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The Dictionary of Australasian Biography/Officer, Sir Robert

< The Dictionary of Australasian Biography

Officer, Sir Robert, M.A., son of Robert Officer, was born in Scotland in 1800, and graduated B.A., and subsequently M.A., at St. Andrews University. Having obtained his diploma as a member of the Royal College of Surgeons, England, he emigrated to Tasmania, where he was appointed Government medical officer for New Norfolk, and also acquired considerable private practice in partnership with Dr. Agnew, who has since been Premier of the colony. Sir Robert paid a brief visit to Victoria whilst the gold fever was at its height; but ultimately returned to Tasmania, where, after filling the post of Assistant Colonial Surgeon, he retired from the medical profession, resigning his practice to Dr. Agnew. In 1853 he was returned to the old Legislative Council, then the only Chamber, for Buckingham. In the following year the new Constitution Act was passed, and when the first election under the bi-cameral system took place, in Sept. 1856, Sir Robert Officer was returned to the House of Assembly for the district of Glenorchy. He was at once chosen Chairman of Committees, and on the retirement of Mr. Fenton in August 1861 became Speaker of the House. This position he held uninterruptedly until April 1877, having been four times re-elected in the interval, and having throughout the whole term of his Speakership been returned unopposed for Glenorchy. Sir Robert was knighted in 1869; and after his resignation of the Speakership, on which occasion he received the thanks of the House for his long and valuable services, he retired to live at Hall Green, his residence near New Norfolk, where to the last he occupied himself in hop cultivation and salmon acclimatisation, industries in which he was greatly interested, and of which he was one of the leading pioneers. He died on July 8th, 1879.