Project Description

William Stewart BOVELL (Sir, known as Stewart) [NB: THIS RECORDING IS OF IRREPARABLE POOR QUALITY. The cracking noises in the early recording on 10 June 1977 are from a log fire burning.]

Sir Stewart was born in Busselton on 19 December, 1906, son of Alexander Robert Stewart Bovell and Ethel (nee Williams). His grandparents, Joseph and Jane Bovell, came to Busselton in the 1850s and all of the male members of the family, including Joseph’s three brothers, were in the colonial mounted constabulary in Busselton where they lived, died and are buried. He had three sisters, Alexandrina Marjorie, Strella Ethel and Annie Lorraine, and one brother, Reginald Eustace John.

Sir Stewart was a member of the Toc H movement and went to its ‘Coming of Age’ Festival in London in 1936. The Australian representatives were received by King Edward VIII because King George V had just died and Edward had not yet abdicated.

In 1941 Sir Stewart enlisted in the Royal Australian Air Force. After WWII he returned to Busselton and entered the family’s shipping business. In 1947 the Member of Parliament for what was then the Sussex (later Vasse) District died suddenly and Sir Stewart was elected to the position in 1947.

He talks of his political career; enjoyable relationships with other members of Parliament; his mentor, Sir David Brand, who was Government Whip when Sir Stewart was elected, and his role as representative of the States to the General Council of the British Commonwealth Parliamentary Association.

He was Minister for Land and Forests and describes how he reconciled the two. Sir Stewart talks of his role as Minister for Immigration in funding the Group Settlement scheme in the South West. On retirement from Parliament on 22 February, 1971, Sir Stewart was appointed Agent General and left for London on the Arcadia on 11 March that year.

He talks fondly of his discussions with the Queen, and his time as Agent General until May 1972. He was knighted on 17 March, 1974 for ‘Service to Western Australia and the Community’.