Charles Sturt University
Charles Sturt University

Regional Records On-Line Guide

Thomas Louis Bull, BEM (1905-1976)

Thomas Louis Bull (1905-76) was born at Wagga Wagga on 7 September 1905, the fourth of five sons of Henry James Bull, grazier, and his wife Charlotte Roberta, nee Tresilian. Tom was educated in a one-teacher school at Gobbagaula, near Narrandera, and at Wesley College, Melbourne. He became a partner in several of his family's pastoral properties in the Narrandera district, and in 1948 bought 'Yarramundi', a 5000 acre sheep and cattle run fronting the Murrumbidgee River near Euroley. 'Yarramundi' had at one time been part of John Peter's Tubbo Station (RW2).

Bull was a man of strong beliefs-an avowed free trader, an elder of the Presbyterian Church and an enthusiastic Rotarian-who was active all his adult life in producer organizations and Country Party politics. He held office continuously as a director of the Narrandera Pastures Protection Board from 1943 until his death. Board chairman in 1948-50, 1955-57 and 1972-74, he represented the South Western Boards on the New South Wales Council of Advice in 1956-67. He was president of the Graziers' Association of Riverina in 1959-62, vice-president of the Australian Woolgrowers' and Graziers' Council in 1960-62, and president in 1962-65. As Council president, he worked to unify the wool industry, securing support from the Australian Wool and Meat Producers' Federation in 1962 for the establishment of the Australian Wool Industry Conference. Secretary of the Narrandera branch of the Country Party (RW2104) in 1945-66, Bull was a successful candidate for New South Wales at the 1964 Senate election. He took his place on 1 July 1965, delivering his maiden speech during the Budget debate on 2 September.

Bull was deeply involved in the Senate's committee work. A Temporary Chairman of Committees in 1967-68, he was elected Chairman of Committees and Deputy President of the Senate on 25 November 1969. Colleagues on both sides of the chamber praised his fairness, his respect for parliamentary tradition and his gentlemanly demeanour. He served on the Select Committee on the Container Method of Handling Cargoes (1967-68), the Select Committee on Medical and Hospital Costs (1968-70) and the Standing Orders Committee (1969-71). As a member of the Standing Orders Committee, he was one of the architects of the Senate's system of properly serviced standing committees. He found considerable satisfaction in his appointment as chairman of the Standing Committee on Primary and Secondary Industry and Trade (1970-71).

Most political commentators assumed Bull would be returned at the November 1970 election, but he was placed third on the Coalition ticket in NSW, and a massive increase in support for the Democratic Labor Party led to his defeat. Disappointed to be leaving the Senate at a time of unprecedented rural crisis, he remained active in state and regional affairs, chairing the Riverina Regional Advisory Council in 1973-75 and the New South Wales Pastures Protection Boards Committee of Inquiry in 1974-75. He also maintained his involvement with the Country Party, managing John W. Sullivan's (RW80, RW103) successful campaign for the federal seat of Riverina at the December 1975 election.

Tom Bull died in hospital at Wagga Wagga on 11 August 1976, after a short illness, and was cremated privately; more than 500 people attended a memorial service at St John's Presbyterian Church in Narrandera. His wife Jessie, n??e Hendry, whom he had married on 11 March 1937, and their two sons and two daughters all survived him.

Compiled by : Don Boadle.

Sources : Boadle, D. 'Thomas Louis Bull (1905-1976)' in Ann Millar (ed.), The Biographical Dictionary of the Australian Senate, vol. 3, forthcoming.