Doug Lowe (Australian politician)

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The Honourable
Doug Lowe
AM
35th Premier of Tasmania
In office
1 December 1977 11 November 1981
Deputy Neil Batt
Preceded by Bill Neilson
Succeeded by Harry Holgate
Member of the Tasmanian House of Assembly
for Franklin
In office
10 May 1969 8 February 1986
Member of the Tasmanian Legislative Council for Buckingham
In office
24 May 1986 2 May 1992
Preceded by Ken Lowrie
Succeeded by David Crean
Personal details
Born (1942-05-15) 15 May 1942 (age 76)
Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
Nationality Australian
Political party Labor (1969–1981)
Independent (1981–1992)
Spouse(s) Pamela June Grant

Douglas Ackley Lowe AM (born 15 May 1942) was the 35th Premier of Tasmania, from 1 December 1977 to 11 November 1981. His time as Premier coincided with controversy over a proposal to build a dam on Tasmania's Gordon River, which would have flooded parts of the Franklin River. The ensuing crisis saw Lowe overthrown as Premier and resign from the Labor Party, acting as an independent for the remainder of his political career.

Order of Australia series of Australian national honours

The Order of Australia is an order of chivalry established on 14 February 1975 by Elizabeth II, Queen of Australia, to recognise Australian citizens and other persons for achievement or meritorious service. Before the establishment of the order, Australian citizens received British honours.

Premier of Tasmania head of government for the state of Tasmania, Australia

The Premier of Tasmania is the head of the executive government in the Australian state of Tasmania. By convention, the leader of the party or political grouping which has majority support in the House of Assembly is invited by the Governor of Tasmania to be Premier and principal adviser.

Gordon River river in western Tasmania

The Gordon River is a major perennial river located in the central highlands, south-west, and western regions of Tasmania, Australia.

Contents

Born in Hobart, he was a former electrician by trade. He is married to Pamela June Grant and has four children, two sons and two daughters.

Early political career

Lowe was elected to the Tasmanian House of Assembly representing the electorate of Franklin for the Labor Party on 10 May 1969, at the 1969 state election. He was made a minister in the government of Eric Reece on 3 May 1972, when he became Minister for Housing. In 1975 he became Minister for the Environment and Planning, and was also appointed Deputy Premier. In 1976, he took on the Industrial Relations and Health portfolios. When the then-Premier Bill Neilson resigned as Premier on 1 December 1977, Lowe became Tasmania's 35th Premier. [1]

Tasmanian House of Assembly lower house of the Parliament of Tasmania

The House of Assembly, or Lower House, is one of the two chambers of the Parliament of Tasmania in Australia. The other is the Legislative Council or Upper House. It sits in Parliament House in the state capital, Hobart.

Division of Franklin (state) Tasmanian state electoral division

The electoral division of Franklin is one of the five electorates in the Tasmanian House of Assembly, located in southern Tasmania and includes Bruny Island, Kingston and the eastern shore of the Derwent River. Franklin is named after Sir John Franklin, the Arctic explorer who was Lieutenant-Governor of Van Diemen's Land (1837–43). The division shares its name and boundaries with the federal division of Franklin.

The Australian Labor Party , commonly known as Tasmanian Labor is the Tasmanian branch of the Australian Labor Party.

Premier of Tasmania

At the age of 35, Lowe was the youngest person ever to become Premier of Tasmania. The first year of his premiership was fairly uneventful, and he retained his seat of Franklin in the 1979 election with the highest ever personal vote in the House of Assembly: 24,971 or 51.2% of the vote (although this was before the Robson Rotation method of printing several variations of ballot papers, so Lowe's vote may have been boosted by his position on the ballot paper). [2]

Robson Rotation is a method of arranging the names of candidates on ballot papers in single transferable vote elections so as to eliminate any influence of the so-called "donkey vote".

Franklin Dam dispute

In 1978, the Hydro-Electric Commission, Tasmania's electricity generator, announced its intention to build a second dam (the Gordon-below-Franklin) on the Gordon River, which given its location would have flooded parts of the environmentally-sensitive Franklin River valley which was joined to the Gordon upstream of the proposed dam site. Noting community concerns over the environmental impact of the proposed dam, Lowe instituted a moratorium on new dam proposals in 1979, and set up the Energy Advisory Council to advise the Cabinet of alternative proposals. The Department of the Environment was instructed to advise the HEC to undertake an environmental impact assessment and report, which when tabled to Parliament recommended proceeding to flood the Franklin. Several alternative proposals were raised: the establishment of a national park on the same site, and a large number of submissions questioning the project and recommending no dam be built at all. [3]

Franklin River river in western Tasmania

The Franklin River is a major perennial river located in the Central Highlands and western regions of Tasmania, Australia. The river is located in the Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park at the mid northern area of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area. Its source is situated at the western edge of the Central Highlands and it flows west towards the West Coast.

A moratorium is a delay or suspension of an activity or a law. In a legal context, it may refer to the temporary suspension of a law to allow a legal challenge to be carried out.

National park park used for conservation purposes of animal life and plants

A national park is a park in use for conservation purposes. Often it is a reserve of natural, semi-natural, or developed land that a sovereign state declares or owns. Although individual nations designate their own national parks differently, there is a common idea: the conservation of 'wild nature' for posterity and as a symbol of national pride. An international organization, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and its World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA), has defined "National Park" as its Category II type of protected areas.

By mid-1980, Tasmania's high levels of unemployment—the highest in the country—were starting to bite economically, and the HEC and elements of the government were adamant that the dam project would alleviate Tasmania's employment and financial problems, although there was considerable public opposition to the dam. Lowe suggested a compromise: the construction of a dam on the Upper Gordon, upstream from the Franklin above the Olga River (Gordon-above-Olga). He also proposed to declare the controversial Lower Gordon area a national park, as suggested by the Department of Parks and Wildlife. [3]

The compromise proposal pleased neither the Hydro-Electric Commission nor the Tasmanian Wilderness Society which was campaigning against the dam. It also caused a deadlock in the Tasmanian Parliament: the House of Assembly rejected the HEC's Lower Gordon (Gordon-below-Franklin) dam, and the Legislative Council rejected the lower house's legislation, and voted against the Upper Gordon (Gordon-above-Olga) dam, insisting they proceed with the original proposal. Lowe, now personally opposed to damming in the region, was successful in the expansion of the existing Frenchmans Cap National Park to include the Franklin, Gordon and Olga Rivers in the Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park. [3]

Referendum and no-confidence motion

In an attempt to break the deadlock, the Tasmanian government called a referendum, the Tasmanian power referendum for 12 December 1981. When Lowe announced this to the media, he was asked to clarify if the referendum would include a 'No dams' option, and he indicated it would. The President of the Labor Party in Tasmania, however, wrote to members of parliament and instructed them to withdraw the 'No dams' option, forcing Lowe into a humiliating backdown, and restricting the options to a choice between the two dam proposals. [4]

On 11 November 1981, members of the Labor Party moved a motion of no confidence against Lowe's leadership, petitioning him to resign as Premier and leader of the party, which he did. Harry Holgate was installed as Premier in his place. Instead of joining the backbenches, Lowe resigned from the ALP and joined the cross-benches as an Independent. [5]

Legislative Council

Lowe continued to serve in the House of Assembly as an Independent, until he retired on 8 February 1986. Shortly afterwards, however, he successfully ran for the Legislative Council representing the electoral district of Buckingham from 24 May 1986 to 2 May 1992 when he retired from politics.

After politics

After leaving politics, Doug Lowe became executive director of the Tasmanian branch of the Australian Medical Association. [6] In 2005, he was temporarily contracted by the state government to secure more specialist staff for the Royal Hobart Hospital. [7]

Honours

Lowe was made a Member of the Order of Australia in the Queen's Birthday Honours in 2000, for service to the community of Tasmania, particularly in the area of social welfare, to the development of health policy, and to the Tasmanian Parliament. [8] He was also awarded a Centenary Medal in 2001. [9]

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References

  1. Ministers – House of Assembly – 1950 to 1989, 24 January 2006.
  2. Highest Individual Vote Winners Since 1959, Tasmanian House of Assembly, 23 July 2002.
  3. 1 2 3 How do governments and political parties respond to new issues?, Discovering Democracy Units Curriculum.
  4. Kellow, Aynsley (1996). Transforming Power: The Politics of Electricity Planning. UK: Cambridge University Press. ISBN   0-521-47122-2.
  5. Thompson, Peter (1984). Bob Brown of the Franklin River. Sydney: Allen & Unwin. ISBN   0-86861-673-7.
  6. Hearing continues into cardiologist's contract, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 17 September 2003.
  7. Union says hospital trouble-shooter appointment 'strange', Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 17 September 2003.
  8. LOWE, Douglas Ackley, It's an Honour (Government of Australia), 12 December 2006.
  9. LOWE, Douglas Ackley, It's an Honour (Government of Australia), 12 December 2006.
Political offices
Preceded by
Bill Neilson
Premier of Tasmania
1977–1981
Succeeded by
Harry Holgate
Party political offices
Preceded by
Bill Neilson
Leader of the Labor Party in Tasmania
1977–1981
Succeeded by
Harry Holgate
Tasmanian Legislative Council
Preceded by
Ken Lowrie
Member for Buckingham
1986–1992
Succeeded by
David Crean