1 audiotape reel (approximately 240 min.) : analog, 1 7/8 ips, 2 track, mono ; 7 in.
Arthur Bruce Smith, businessman, barrister and politician, was born June 28, 1851 in Surrey, England, fifth son of William Howard Smith, master mariner and later ship-owner and second wife, Agnes Rosa nee Allen. The family landed in Melbourne on July 7, 1854 aboard Smith's own steamer, Express. Bruce was later educated in England (1862-64) then at Wesley College, Melbourne from where he entered business from 1867-72. Coached by W.W. Mankel, Smith matriculated to the University of Melbourne in Oct. 1872 and studied law there until entering Lincoln's Inn in London where he was called to the Bar in Jan. 1877 and on returning to Melbourne, he was admitted to the Victorian Bar on Sept. 14, 1877. He married Sarah Jane Creswell in 1879 in Toorak. Over the years he pursued his ambition to become a politician while alternating between business and the Bar. He stood for the seat of Emerald Hill as a Constitutionalist in Feb. 1880 and was narrowly defeated, moving to Sydney the following year to practice law and won the by-election for Gundagai in Nov. 1882. Then he resigned his seat in April 1884 returning to Melbourne to become joint managing director of Wm Howard Smith & Sons Ltd. Faced with industrial unrest, he founded the Victorian Employers' Union in 1885 and later the Victorian Board of Conciliation. But in Dec. 1886 he quarrelled with his father and so sold all his shares of the business to his brother Edmund, he returned to Sydney where he lost a by-election for the seat of Kiama. He wrote at this time his massive and anachronistic Liberty and liberalism (1887) where he set out his political philosophy based on his rejection of increasing interference by the State in the free market reflecting his advocacy of classical liberalism of the Manchester School and the influences of Herbert Spencer and social Darwinism. He would contribute to many political journals and often reprinting his articles as pamphlets. He was basically a doctrinnaire free trader extremely laissez-faire and became increasingly anti-socialist after 1900. In 1888 he founded the New South Wales Employers' Union then re-entered politics as the member for Glebe and became Secretary for Public Works then in 1891 he replaced MacMillan as Colonial Treasurer. He was known as a fiery debater but angered his own colleagues for his disregard of procedure and going over the heads of his seniors.
This interview was conducted as part of Yvonne Larrson's research work for her M.A. entitled: The political ideas of Arthur Bruce Smith (Bowral, 1973).
Not yet preserved.
Access open for research; written permission required for public access during the lifetime of the interviewer.
Recorded in 1973.