The Ogilvie family has strong Tasmanian connections and a history of community service.
James Ogilvie arrived in Tasmania as a convict, from Aberdeen Scotland. His sons AG and EJ Ogilvie were born in (1890) at the Victoria Tavern Hobart. AG Ogilvie attended St Patricks College Ballarat and St Virgils College Hobart. AG Ogilvie studied law at the University of Tasmania and established himself as a barrister in criminal defence work. He entered Labor politics winning the seat of Franklin in 1919. He joined Joe Lyons' cabinet in 1923.
Famously AG Ogilvie helped prepare 'The Case for Tasmania 1926' that increased Commonwealth support for the State and which stands today as a substantive argument in favour of Tasmania.
In October 1929 Lyons went to the House of Representatives with Ogilvie assuming leadership of the Opposition in Tasmania. Elected Premier in 1934 Ogilvie took the reins and proved to be a remarkable success. He set about reforming the Tasmanian economy. Major policy shifts included:
- Abolition of state secondary school fees
- Rebuilding the Royal Hobart Hospital
- Public service salaries were restored
- Increased unemployment relief
- Increased public works - famously in building the road to Mount Wellington's pinnacle.
Hydroelectric development was important to the Ogilvie Government, with the opening of Tarraleah station in February 1938 and the commencement of work at Lake St Clair. In financing these and other activities Ogilvie benefited from the Commonwealth Grants Commission and the Loan Council. Ogilvie's major industrial development was in pulp and paper, with Ogilvie himself managing the establishment of the Australian Newsprint Mills plant at Boyer, southern Tasmania.
The Premier understood the quality of life issues. He encouraged a shorter working week and a full Saturday holiday. The Royal Hobart Hospital was superbly rebuilt, and public health services improved.
Rural area schools were also established and bus services provided.
Ogilvie's interest in tourism made him adamant that Tasmania pursues this industry - he opened Hastings Caves and thermal springs to the public. He donated a Tasmanian Devil to an American zoo. Ogilvie travelled widely, including through Europe on the eve of WWII. Upon his return, he established the Tasmanian Council on Refugees which assisted refugees seeking safe haven.
Prosperity for Tasmania
As Ogilvie's economic programme started delivering new prosperity all economic indicators in Tasmania rose. In February 1937 Labor won a clear electoral victory commencing 35 years of unbroken Labor government.
Ogilvie's extensive travel through Europe in 1935 and briefly in 1937 gave the firsthand experience of totalitarian Europe. By 1938 Ogilvie became outspoken in urging rearmament, correctly perceiving that war was coming.
Ogilvie's reputation and popularity were evident in the wake of his sudden death. Among those at the massively attended funeral in Hobart was Dame Enid Lyons. Public subscription raised the statue of Ogilvie (by S. J. Hammond) which stands today in Parliament Gardens.