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Herbert James Mockford Payne (1866–1944)

by Scott Bennett

This article was published:

Herbert James Mockford Payne (1866-1944), draper and politician, was born on 17 August 1866 in Hobart Town, son of Henry Payne, gardener, and his wife Hannah, née Reed. After an elementary education at Hobart's Central State School, Payne moved to the north-west coast, where he married Margaret Annie Stones at Ulverstone on 18 January 1888 with Congregational forms. He worked as a draper's assistant at Burnie before starting his own clothing emporium there about 1892.

Payne became active in non-Labor politics, and in 1902 founded the Reform League, which called for reduction of State expenditure, endorsed candidates and campaigned in the 1903 Tasmanian election, but disappeared soon after. Payne was elected to the House of Assembly for Burnie. He was involved in the Tasmanian Liberal League, becoming Darwin divisional president, and in 1909-19 he represented Darwin in the assembly. He served on the 1906-07 royal commission on wages and wage earners and was chairman of committees (1909-12). From 1912 he was treasurer and minister responsible for agriculture and railways in the Solomon government until it was turned out by a no-confidence motion in 1914. By then he was virtually a full-time politician, having left his shop in 1906.

Between 1919 and 1937 Payne was a National and United Australia Party senator for Tasmania. He was a most conscientious parliamentarian, always to be found in his seat. He developed an expertise in tariff matters, and as a member of the 1923-24 royal commission on the Navigation Act visited Australia's mandated territories, in which he took a keen interest. He introduced the private member's bill in 1924 which provided for compulsory voting at Commonwealth elections, and in 1926 was a member of the joint select committee on Commonwealth electoral law and procedure. He was also a member of the joint public works committee in 1926-29, and temporary chairman of committees in 1929-33. In 1928 he represented Australia at the Inter-Parliamentary Union Conference in Berlin.

Payne was a past pro-grand master of the Manchester Unity Independent Order of Oddfellows and a Freemason. He played bowls and enjoyed gardening and motoring. Following the death of his wife in 1936 and his first and only defeat in 1937, he moved to Melbourne, where he married Constance Evelyn Rogers on 30 March 1938. He lived at Coburg, and died there in hospital, on 26 February 1944, survived by his wife and by a son and two daughters of his first marriage. He was cremated. His son, Leslie Herbert Payne, member of the House of Assembly for Denison in 1924-25, predeceased him.

Select Bibliography

  • Advocate (Burnie), 28 Feb 1944
  • private information.

Citation details

Scott Bennett, 'Payne, Herbert James Mockford (1866–1944)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1988, accessed online 20 May 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 11, (Melbourne University Press), 1988

View the front pages for Volume 11

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