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Obscure Insult

In August 1928 perhaps Tasmania’s most obscure parliamentary insult was cast. It occurred during the Budget debate and was delivered by the Shadow Treasurer, Edward Dwyer-Gray, later a Premier of Tasmania. The insult was made while Dwyer-Gray was in full flight attacking the Government over what he called a ‘dubious’ contract with the E.Z. Co.

Dwyer-Gray dubbed the Government a ‘diplozoon’, and the report on the debate in the Mercury drew attention to the fact that no one queried what he had said!

Edmund Dwyer-Gray
(1870-1945)

Diplozoon
a fused worm-like organism

Perhaps the parliamentarians at the time were not really listening, or did not wish to appear ignorant. Dwyer-Gray certainly assumed the latter, because stung by the fact that his insult had not hit home, he complained about the ‘lamentable ignorance’ of the ‘good old English language’. Going further he was forced to explain to his parliamentary colleagues that a diplozoon was a ‘fat worm of two organisms fused together’. By which one supposes he was being critical of the loose coalition of forces making up the then conservative McPhee Government. Even so, Dwyer-Gray’s insult fell flat and had no influence on the passage of the Bill.

By 1934 Dwyer-Gray was himself Treasurer, and remained so until 1939. In June of that year his brief stint as Premier came about because of the sudden death of Albert Ogilvie. He resigned the Premiership when a factional compromise, perhaps another ‘fusion’ of support, formed within the ALP for Robert Cosgrove. Dywer-Gray remained as Treasurer until his own death in 1945.

 

Terry Newman