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Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Tye, Cyrus Willmot (1879–1946)

by Lenore Coltheart

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 12, (MUP), 1990

Cyrus Willmot Oberon Tye (1879-1946), public servant, was born on 14 January 1879 at Macdonaldtown, Sydney, son of Thomas Tye, butcher, and his wife Eugenie, née Cozens, both native-born. Educated at Newington College, in 1897 he joined the Department of Public Instruction. Transferring to the Department of Lands as a clerk in 1900, he was involved with closer settlement. On 20 March 1907 Tye married Constance Isabel Elizabeth Cauthra Hall with Presbyterian forms at Rockdale; they were to have a son and two daughters. A keen cricketer, after World War I he took up baseball and later played golf.

Appointed in 1912 as special clerk to Joseph Davis, director-general of public works, Tye enrolled that year as a part-time student at the University of Sydney and qualified in 1915 with a diploma in economics and commerce. He assisted John Spence with the Norton Griffith & Co. contract in 1916 and in June 1917 became secretary to the minister for public works. In 1920 he was promoted to assistant accountant in the department and was under secretary in 1925-29. As an associate of the Commonwealth Institute of Accountants, Tye was one of the first permanent heads to have accounting qualifications and experience.

In 1925 Britain undertook to provide loan funds at a low interest rate for development schemes in Australia that would increase the migration of British workers. When the Commonwealth government failed to recommend sufficient projects and immigration to New South Wales fell in 1929, the Bavin government set up the Migration Agreement Executive Committee to make arrangements for construction schemes within the State. In May Tye was appointed director of development within the Premier's Department, in charge of the committee and concurrently secretary and executive officer of the Council for the Prevention and Relief of Unemployment. The Wyangala Dam scheme was the first of the projects aimed at developing the resources of the State and attracting British migrants. The committee was maintained by premiers Jack Lang and (Sir) Bertram Stevens; Tye also served on other government boards and was an executive member of the committee organizing the sesquicentenary celebrations in 1938.

During World War II Tye took on numerous responsibilities in the public service. Manager of the Government Stores Department, he was a member of the State Liquid Fuel Control Board and in 1942 had charge of the State Charcoal Undertaking for the Department of Road Transport and Tramways. A diabetic, he died of a coronary occlusion at his home at Mosman on 31 March 1946 and was cremated with Anglican rites; his wife and a daughter survived him. Tye's success in administration under changing governments, his training and experience in financial management, and his ability to take on substantial and varied responsibilities made him a notable professional administrator.

Select Bibliography

  • Report Respecting the Imperial Migration Agreement, Parliamentary Papers (New South Wales), 1923 (1)
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 14, 16 June 1924, 17 Apr 1929, 4 Oct 1939, 2 Apr 1946.

Citation details

Lenore Coltheart, 'Tye, Cyrus Willmot (1879–1946)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1990, accessed online 7 August 2020.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 12, (MUP), 1990

View the front pages for Volume 12

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