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Gale, Walter Augustus (1864–1927)

by J. G. Williams

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 8, (MUP), 1981

This is a shared entry with Charles Frederick Gale

Walter Augustus Gale (1864-1927), by Laura Greenham, 1917-27

Walter Augustus Gale (1864-1927), by Laura Greenham, 1917-27

National Library of Australia, nla.pic-an24261464

Charles Frederick Gale (1860-1928), civil servant, and Walter Augustus Gale (1864-1927), parliamentary clerk, were the sons of William Gale, merchant and collector of customs, and his wife Mary Ann, née Scott. Charles Frederick was born on 26 November 1860 at Geraldton, Western Australia. He was educated at the Bedford Commercial School in England and later at Bishop Hale's College (Hale School), Perth. He was a squatter in the Gascoyne district in the early 1880s, but was ruined by drought and went prospecting. From 1893 he was an assistant inspector of stock at Geraldton and from 1897 inspector of pearl-shell fisheries at Shark Bay. Two years later he became chief inspector of fisheries at Perth and in 1906 gave the joint select committee on the fishing industry valuable information on the western fishing grounds, gathered while leading a trawling expedition in 1904. From 1908, after an amalgamation, Charles was also chief protector of Aboriginals.

His first report recommended the establishment of reserve stations which the natives of each tribal district 'could look upon as a home'. Gale suggested that this could be done splitting up some of the large pastoral holdings. He anticipated the 'strong opposition and protestation' of the squatters, but during his term, Moola Bulla, the first Aboriginal cattle-station, was begun. In 1909 he also persuaded pastoralists to ration free of charge Aboriginal indigents on their properties, by pointing out that they were, after all, 'born in the country from which in many instances large profits are yearly made'.

On 22 July 1914, in Melbourne, he married a widow, Flora Marie Farquhar, née Blackman. He then took long service leave in Japan. After resuming work in February 1915, he was retrenched in March, 'owing to the re-organisation of certain departments'. This was probably due less to differences over policy than to a clash of personalities. R. H. Underwood, the minister, held a low opinion of Gale's 'ability and energy'. The dismissal upset public servants and a select committee of inquiry was appointed on the motion of Gale's friend, (Sir) Walter Kingsmill. All witnesses attested that Gale's work had been satisfactory and the committee reported that his dismissal was 'illegal'; it recommended reinstatement. This was not done and further intimidatory measures forced him to accept retrenchment. In 1917-19 he was secretary of the Civil Service Club.

Gale was a committee member of the Western Australian Turf Club and a justice of the peace. Childless and survived by his wife, he died of pneumonia, in the Armadale hospital on 24 September 1928. His estate was sworn for probate at £500.

Walter was born on 22 November 1864 at Geraldton, Western Australia, and was educated at the High School, Perth, and the Collegiate School of St Peter, Adelaide. He won a scholarship to Exeter College, Oxford, England, where he spent a year in 1884, excelling in cricket and football, but did not graduate. He returned home next year to teach at the High School, Perth. A protégé of (Sir) John Forrest, in 1886 he became an assistant registrar in the colonial secretary's office for two years. He then became secretary to the Central Board of Education. In 1890 he was acting registrar-general and registrar of patents and next year became clerk and librarian of the Legislative Assembly. On 18 November 1896 at Busselton he married Georgiana Kennedy Richardson-Bunbury; they had a daughter and two sons.

On 1 May 1901 Walter became the second clerk-assistant to the Federal House of Representatives in Melbourne and, soon after, clerk-assistant. He wrote poetry and songs and published a booklet of war verse, Are we downhearted? NO NO (1915), from which over 10,000 copies of the urging, patriotic 'Play the game' were circulated by the Commonwealth to aid recruiting. In 1917 he succeeded Charles Gavan Duffy as clerk of the house and in 1920 he was appointed C.M.G. From that year he was also honorary secretary of the Empire Parliamentary Association and in 1924 toured South Africa, as guest of their association, with members of the Australian parliament.

After eight years of failing health, Walter collapsed at work, in the new Parliament House, Canberra, and died from heart disease on 27 July 1927. He had been esteemed by members of all parties for his thorough parliamentary knowledge and after his burial in the churchyard of St John's Anglican Church, Canberra, a memorial holly tree was planted below his old office.

Select Bibliography

  • J. S. Battye (ed), Cyclopedia of Western Australia, vol 1 (Adel, 1912)
  • P. Biskup, Not Slaves, Not Citizens (Brisb, 1973)
  • Parliamentary Papers (Legislative Assembly, Western Australia), 1902, 2 (A8), 1909, 1 (2)
  • Western Mail (Perth), 10 Apr 1914, 3 Aug 1917
  • Table Talk (Melbourne), 11 July 1901
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 7 May, 3 June 1920, 11, 30 July, 1924, 28, 30 July, 24 Sept 1927
  • Herald (Melbourne), 23 Mar, 3 May, 27, 28 July 1927
  • Australasian (Melbourne), 6 Aug 1927.

Citation details

J. G. Williams, 'Gale, Walter Augustus (1864–1927)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/gale-walter-augustus-6370/text10799, published first in hardcopy 1981, accessed online 23 October 2018.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 8, (MUP), 1981

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