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Philip Oakley Fysh

Philip Oakley Fysh (Parliament of Tasmania)

Philip Oakley Fysh (1835–1919), politician, arrived in Tasmania in 1859 and established a wholesale business in Hobart. He entered the Legislative Council in 1866, battled the reactionary politics of the landed-gentry-dominated Parliament, and briefly became Premier in 1877.

In a visit to England in the late 1870s Fysh was attracted to the new English Liberalism, and his reputation was built around his second period as Premier, 1887–92. His extensive reform agenda included changes in health, industrial safety, social welfare and education, as well as adult male suffrage, payment of members of parliament and legitimation of trade unions. The first comprehensive system of taxation modernised the economy and funded an extensive public works programme. In 1901 Fysh entered federal politics, but retreated into conservatism, disliking the growing influence of the Labor Party.

Further reading: Q Beresford, 'The evolution of a Tasmanian Liberal', 1865–92', B Letters thesis, University of New England, 1978; ADB 8.

Quentin Beresford