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Bill Neilson

Bill Neilson, 1975 (AOT, PH30/1/9983)

William Arthur (Bill) Neilson (1925–89), politician, was born in Hobart. He is said to have attended Labor Party meetings from the age of eleven, as a normal part of family life. When elected MHA for Franklin in 1946, aged 21, he was the youngest member to gain a seat. He held many positions including state Labor President, Treasurer, and two terms as Minister for Education (which he found particularly satisfying in view of his own limited education).

Neilson took over as Premier from Eric Reece in 1975 and (with Doug Lowe as deputy) eased the party through the transition from the old guard to the new, without conflict. Ill-health led to his resignation in 1977. He was Agent-General in London until the position was abolished in 1981.

Further reading: T Newman, Tasmanian premiers, 1856–1988, Hobart, 1988.

Wendy Rimon