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FRANK JOSEPH SCOTT WISE, WESTERN AUSTRALIA’s LABOUR PREMIER

The first cover has the careful placement of the three war tax surcharge overprint stamps, the red 2½d on 2d, the blue 3½d on 3d KGVI and the purple 5½d on 5d merino sheep, all issued on 10 December 1941, but this is not a first day cover. The three stamps are ‘socked on the nose’ WYNDHAM/ -4 MAY 42/ WEST AUSTRALIA. The 2½d stamp is a perfin, probably W.A. but this is not definite. The cover has a blue BY AIR MAIL/PAR AVION label and a blue registration label WYNDAM/ WEST AUSTRALIA/ NO 651 plus the usual registration red crayon cross hatching. The cover is addressed to Mrs. F.J.S. Wise, 1 Rosser Street, Cottesloe (W.A.) (Figure 1 & 1A).

The reverse has the identical Wyndham origin cancel, a REGISTERED PERTH/ -7 MAY 42/ WESTN AUSTRALIA transit and a COTTESLOE/ 815-8 MY 42/WESTN AUSTRALIA reception postmark. There is a fine blue Western Australia Parliament shield on the flap, seen more clearly on the next cover (Figure 2).

The second cover was sent from the same person, has the same stamps placed as carefully as the first, again socked on the nose and sent to Mrs F.J.S. Wise at the same address in Cottesloe. In manuscript it was meant to go ‘Air Mail’ and ‘Register’ but there is no evidence that the cover was sent registered. All 3 stamps have a BROOME/ -4 MY 42/ WESTN AUSTRALIA postmark, and now two of the stamps, the 2½d and the 5½d have a perfin, not positively identified (Figures 3 & 3A).

 

The reverse has no postmarks, no signs of registration, but the fine blue insignia on the flap is better seen than previously (Figure 4).

There is a high likelihood that both covers were sent by Wise, definitely on the same day to his wife, from 2 different towns, Broome and Wyndham, W.A. The distance between the two towns (as the cocky flies is 684 km), and by road on the Great North Highway it would be more than twice this distance to drive. These 2 covers raise an obvious question: Which member of the family was a stamp cover collector?

Frank Joseph Scott Wise (1897-1986) was born in Queensland and educated at the Gatton Agricultural College, Queensland and he became a farmer, concentrating on tropical fruits. After four years of farming he joined the Queensland Department of Agriculture and then six years later he went to Western Australia as an advisor to the Department of Agriculture. In 1928 he was appointed to report on agriculture in the Northern Territory and north–west W.A., and the following year he went back to the department to supervise agricultural development in the North West as a tropical advisor. He was responsible for fostering banana growing in the lower Gascoyne Valley after he convinced the department to buy 500 banana suckers from Queensland. He also played a prominent part in the introduction of buffel grass (Cenchrus ciliaris, renowned for successful use in tropical and sub-tropical pastures) into pastoral areas in the State.

In 1933, he successfully contested the seat of Gascoyne and three years later he was appointed Minister for Agriculture (1935-39), Minister for Lands and Agriculture (1939-45) and Premier and Treasurer (31 July 1945 - 1 April 47). When his government was defeated in 1947, it brought to an end 14 years of Labour Party rule. Frank Wise spent the next four years as Opposition leader (1947-51) before resigning to take up the position of Administrator for the Northern Territory, which involved him as the President of that Territory’s Legislative Council (1951-56). His next appointment was to the Western Australian Legislative Council, in which he served from 1956-71. The Frank Wise Institute for Tropical Agriculture was named after him in 1986. It is situated in the extreme north-east of Western Australia, just west of the Northern Territory border (Figure 5).

Frank Wise, the doyen of Western Australia’s Australian Labour Party, had gained respect on all sides of politics, including the powerful Australian Prime Minister, Robert Menzies, on account of his vast agricultural experience and administrative skills. A picture of Frank Wise is seen in Figure 6.

Addendum: Originally all sites visited were short on biographical data on Wise, but this has been corrected by a wealth of information sent by Russell Hamilton from the Parliamentary Library of W. A. which I have summarized:

Frank Wise b. 30 May 1897 Ipswich, QLD, son of Charles Edward, storekeeper and Emily Gertrude Gordon. Married twice: to Elsie Dorothy Hunter in 1922, 1 son, 2 daughters, widowed 1943; married Patricia Mc Cormick in 1944, 1 son, 3 daughters. He died 29 June 1986 in Cottesloe, a suburb of Perth and is buried in the Karrakatta cemetery. He was awarded an AO, (Order of Australia) in 1979, but he twice refused a knighthood, claiming he "hadn’t earned it". This in spite of the following record:

"In 34 years of parliamentary life Frank Wise held twelve ministerial portfolios. He has had the unique experience of having been leader of the Government and of the Opposition in both Houses of Parliament of Western Australia".


 
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