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Quayle, Bronte Clucas (1919–1986)

by Geoff Kolts

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 18, (MUP), 2012

Bronte Clucas Quayle (1919-1986), lawyer and public servant, was born on 24 October 1919 in North Adelaide, son of Alfred Charles Clucas Quayle, storekeeper, from the Isle of Man, and his New South Wales-born wife Edith Annie, née Turbill, formerly Frearson. After attending the Collegiate School of St Peter, Bronte enrolled in law at the University of Adelaide. On 19 September 1940 he enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force. Promoted to corporal, he sailed in November to Palestine and served in the Australian Army Pay Corps. In 1942 he became a staff sergeant and returned to Australia, where he worked in paymasters’ offices in Victoria and Queensland. He embarked with the 5th Division for Milne Bay, Papua, in January 1943. Again promoted, he was a warrant officer engaged in administrative duties. From March 1944 until his discharge in January 1946 he was attached to the army’s South Australian accounts office. On 22 April 1944 at the St Peter’s school chapel he married Joan Proctor Strickland, a member of the Australian Women’s Army Service.

Resuming his law studies, Quayle won a Stow prize in 1947 and graduated from the University of Adelaide (LL.B, 1948). On 15 December 1947 he was admitted as a barrister and solicitor of the Supreme Court of South Australia. In 1950 he joined the parliamentary drafting division in the Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department (from 1970 the Office of Parliamentary Counsel), Canberra. Second parliamentary counsel from 1970, he became the first parliamentary counsel in 1977. He was appointed QC in 1978.

Brilliant at drafting bills quickly and with great clarity, Quayle specialised in taxation and in retirement-benefits legislation for public servants and members of the defence force. Trusted and appreciated by ministers of both the Liberal Party-Country (National) Party coalition and the Australian Labor Party, he gave easily understood explanations of complex provisions to parliamentarians and public servants. In 1962, at the request of the government of Pakistan, he was seconded to help with the drafting of a new constitution for the republic. In recognition of his outstanding contribution the government of Pakistan awarded him the Sitara-e-Pakistan (Star of Pakistan).

Quayle was prominently involved in securing uniformity in State and Territory legislation. Adept at training young lawyers in the art of drafting legislation, he instigated a system of on-the-job training in which an experienced drafter worked with one who was less experienced. He also helped to form the Commonwealth Association of Legislative Counsel, to assist co-operation among legislative drafters in Commonwealth countries. In 1969 he was appointed OBE and in 1979 CB. Suffering from ill health, he retired in 1981.

Kind, gregarious and popular at both formal and informal occasions, Quayle was a member of the Canberra Yacht, Sporting Car, and Wine and Food clubs. He was an agnostic. Survived by his wife and their two sons, he died of congestive cardiac failure on 12 October 1986 in Canberra and was cremated.

Select Bibliography

  • Canberra Times, 17 Mar 1962, p 6, 26 Dec 1980, p 4, 16 Oct 1986, p 6
  • Australian Law Journal, vol 60, no 12, Dec 1986, p 694
  • B883, item SX10238 (National Archives of Australia)
  • private information and personal knowledge.

Citation details

Geoff Kolts, 'Quayle, Bronte Clucas (1919–1986)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/quayle-bronte-clucas-15579/text26793, published first in hardcopy 2012, accessed online 13 November 2019.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 18, (MUP), 2012

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