Bill Neilson

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Bill Neilson

Bill Neilson.jpg
34th Premier of Tasmania
In office
31 March 1975 – 1 December 1977
Preceded by Eric Reece
Succeeded by Doug Lowe
Constituency Franklin
Personal details
Born (1925-08-27)27 August 1925
Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
Died 9 November 1989(1989-11-09) (aged 64)
Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
Nationality Australia Australian
Political party Labor Party
Spouse(s) Jill Benjamin
Occupation Post delivery man

William Arthur Neilson AC (27 August 1925 – 9 November 1989) was Premier of Tasmania from 1975 to 1977.

Born in Hobart, and educated at Ogilvie High School, Neilson became a postman before entering politics. He married Jill Benjamin, daughter of Phyllis Benjamin, in Melbourne in 1948. They had one son Andrew and three daughters, Christine, Carol and Robin.

Neilson was elected to the Tasmanian House of Assembly on 23 November 1946 at the age of 21, representing the Labor Party (ALP). For many years he was not only the youngest MHA in Tasmania,[1] but also the youngest person to be elected to any Australian parliament.[2]

He held various cabinet offices, including those of Minister for Tourism and Attorney-General. For over a decade (1958-1969), and again 1972-1974, he was Minister for Education. He was made Attorney-General again on 12 April 1974, and five days later was also made Deputy Premier, Police Minister and Environment Minister.[3]

When the Premier Eric Reece was required to retire due to his age, Neilson was elected Tasmanian Leader of the ALP and Premier of Tasmania, on 31 March 1975. The following year Neilson's government was re-elected, narrowly defeating (by just one seat) the Liberal Party led by Sir Max Bingham; but towards the end of his tenure, he suffered from nervous exhaustion.[4] He resigned as Premier, and from Parliament, on 1 December 1977.

After his term as premier, Neilson accepted the position as Agent-General for Tasmania in London, but soon his successor in the premiership, Douglas Lowe, abolished the post on cost-cutting grounds. In the 1980s, Nielson wrote as a theatre critic for The Mercury newspaper in Hobart. He died of cancer in November 1989.


  1. ^ "NEILSON, William Arthur". Parliament of Tasmania.
  2. ^ "Parliamentary Library: Australian Political Records". Parliament of Australia. Archived from the original on 17 October 2008.
  3. ^ "Ministers – House of Assembly – 1950 to 1989". Parliament of Tasmania. 24 January 2006.
  4. ^ Boyce, Peter. "Neilson, William Arthur (Bill) (1925–1989)". Australian Dictionary of Biography.
Political offices
Preceded by
Eric Reece
Premier of Tasmania
Succeeded by
Doug Lowe
Party political offices
Preceded by
Eric Reece
Leader of the Labor Party in Tasmania
Succeeded by
Doug Lowe

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