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Harry Ross Anderson (1917–1961)

by K. W. Ryan

This article was published:

Harry Ross Anderson (1917-1961), professor of law, was born on 11 December 1917 at Fremantle, Western Australia, son of William Henry Anderson, civil servant and soldier, and his wife Gladys May, née Steadman, both Australian born. Ross was educated at Perth Modern High School and the University of Western Australia (LL.B., 1938). Winning a Rhodes scholarship in 1938, he attended Exeter College, Oxford, and graduated with first-class honours in jurisprudence (B.A., 1940; M.A., 1945). On his return to Perth, he joined the Australian Military Forces in October 1940 and was commissioned lieutenant in March 1942. He transferred to the Australian Imperial Force on 1 September and was attached to the Australian Intelligence Corps, New Guinea Force, in April 1943. That month he was seconded to the Air Liaison Group. Returning to Australia in March 1944, he spent six months at Tarakan, Borneo, in 1945 and was demobilized in Brisbane early next year.

On 6 February 1946 Anderson married Suzette Daphne Walcott Chase at St Mary's Anglican Church, West Perth. Having been admitted to the Bar on 18 March 1947, he practised in Perth before accepting a research scholarship at the University of Western Australia in 1948. Next year he was appointed senior lecturer in law at the University of Queensland. Promoted chief lecturer (reader) in 1952, he became foundation professor of public law in 1960.

Anderson taught contract, constitutional and administrative law, and public international law. His research in constitutional and administrative law, particularly on section 92 of the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Australia, produced a series of scholarly and thought-provoking articles that appeared in the Australian Law Journal in 1953, 1955 and 1959. He also wrote extensively on Commonwealth-State relations, contributing 'The States and Relations with the Commonwealth' to Essays on the Australian Constitution (edited by R. Else-Mitchell, Sydney, 1952, 1961) and 'The Constitutional Framework' to The Government of the Australian States (edited by S. R. Davis, Sydney, 1960). On sabbatical in England in 1956, Anderson began a large-scale study of judicial control of administrative tribunals and continued this work while he was a visiting fellow (1959) at the Australian National University, Canberra; he published on the subject in the University of Queensland Law Journal in 1956 and 1957.

An excellent administrator, Anderson was editor (1950-61) of the university's law journal, secretary of the staff association and a member (1960) of the senate. He was also an active member of the Labor Party and the Labor Lawyers' League. As president of the Queensland Civil Liberties League he had briefly been involved in public controversy in 1953 over his criticism of the State Labor government's printers and newspapers bill, at which time he was criticized in parliament by the attorney-general. Keenly interested in the arts, particularly ballet, and a former interstate hockey player, Anderson was a dynamic, popular and sociable man with a wide range of friends. Survived by his wife and two daughters, he died of cancer on 23 February 1961 at the Repatriation General Hospital, Greenslopes, and was cremated. The Ross Anderson memorial prize in constitutional law is awarded by the university.

Select Bibliography

  • Parliamentary Debates (Queensland), 1953-54, p 578
  • University of Queensland Law Journal, 4, 1961, p 95
  • University of Queensland Gazette, May 1961
  • Courier-Mail (Brisbane), 19 Nov 1959, 24 Feb 1961
  • Age (Melbourne), 23 Feb 1961
  • West Australian, 24 Feb 1961
  • University of Queensland Archives.

Citation details

K. W. Ryan, 'Anderson, Harry Ross (1917–1961)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1993, accessed online 21 June 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 13, (Melbourne University Press), 1993

View the front pages for Volume 13

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