It is with great sadness that I learnt of the passing of Neil Robson.
Neil was a truly inspirational Tasmanian. Born in Smithton in 1928, Neil’s up bringing was incredibly tough, with his father, uncles and grandparents all passing away by the time he was 17.
He enlisted in the Navy as soon as he was old enough and was sent to Japan as part of the post-World War II occupation force. Neil returned to Tasmania in 1947 and began working in finance. Shortly after in 1949, he married his wife, Desiree.
In the 1960s, Neil became a published author and TV quiz show host.
In 1974, Neil was elected to the Senate, only to lose his seat in the double dissolution election of 1975. In 1976, he stood for the State seat of Bass and won. He was re-elected at every subsequent election until he retired from politics in 1992.
Neil’s contribution to Parliament and Government was profound. In 1979, he introduced a private members’ bill to reform the design of election ballot papers. The reform, named the ‘Robson Rotation’, was passed by Parliament and has been in use ever since. Neil’s other great contribution was as Minister for Industry in the Gray Government. He attended two European Economic Forums, attracting many international businesses to invest in Tasmania. He also established the Tasmanian Development Authority.
Outside of Parliament, Neil served in a number of roles including as a board member of the Port of Launceston, head of the Taxpayers’ Association and as the National President of Mensa. Neil was also a keen cricketer and footballer and was renowned for his books on fishing.
In 2007, Neil was made a Member of the Order of Australia.
On behalf of the Liberal Party, our condolences go out to Neil’s family.