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Edmund Jowett

1858 – 1936

Edmund Jowett (1858-1936), pastoralist, businessman and politician, was the son of a stuffmaker and learned the wool trade at his uncle's mill in Thornton, Yorkshire. In 1876, following his father and brother, he arrived in Melbourne, working on the Argus, contributing articles to the Australasian Banking Record and becoming the wool expert of the Australian Mercantile Land and Finance Co. Ltd. Though he had emigrated without capital, from 1886 he gradually acquired pastoral properties (mainly in Queensland, but some in New South Wales and Victoria) until he controlled over forty, covering more than six million acres (2,428,140 ha). Specialising in developing unimproved properties, he promoted woollen-manufacturing, instituted 'Wool Week', and headed a 'Use More Wool' committee. In 1916 he was appointed growers' representative on the wartime Central Wool Committee and subsequently served in a similar capacity on the Commonwealth Bureau of Commerce and Industry and on the Victorian Meat Advisory Committee. He took no active part in politics until that year, when, following the death in action of his younger son, he campaigned on the Darling Downs for conscription. On the formation of the National Party in January 1917 he became its Victorian vice-president, and in October that year he won the seat of Grampians at a by-election. In 1919 he was re-elected with the endorsement of the Victorian Farmers' Union and, in early 1920, was chosen as deputy leader of the new parliamentary Country Party. In 1922 when a redistribution abolished his seat he unsuccessfully contested Bendigo; he remained an active member of the Country Party for the remainder of his life. Jowett was Australian president of the British Immigration League from 1916 and representative in Australia of the Royal Colonial Institute. His publications included The Unnatural Fall in Prices Due to Currency Legislation (1895), The Ruinous Fall in the Prices of Produce and the Prevailing Scarcity of Money (1894), Electoral Reform for Australia (1917) and Proportional Representation for the Senate (1919). He was a director of several companies, including the Norwich Union Insurance Society, and belonged to the Melbourne, Australian and Queensland clubs. At his death he was credited by the Bulletin with having owned more sheep than anyone else in the world.

Updated 2018