Henry Bland (public servant)

Sir Henry Bland
Secretary of the Department of Defence
In office
1 May 1968  1970
Preceded by Sir Ted Hicks
Succeeded by Sir Arthur Tange
Secretary of the Department of Labour and National Service
In office
Preceded by William Funnell
Succeeded by Hal Cook
Personal details
Born (1909-12-28)28 December 1909
Randwick, New South Wales
Died 8 November 1997(1997-11-08) (aged 87)
Nationality Australian
Spouse(s) Rosamund Nickal
(m. 1933–97; his death)
Parents Francis Bland
Alma mater University of Sydney,
LLB (Hons)
Occupation Public servant

Sir Henry Armand "Harry" Bland (28 December 1909 – 8 November 1997) was a senior Australian public servant. He was Secretary of the Department of Defence from 1968 to 1970.

Life and career

Bland was born in Randwick, Sydney on 28 December 1909, the son of Francis Bland.[1] Bland's mother died from septicaemia soon after he was born.[2] In 1925 and 1926, Bland attended Sydney Boys High School.[3]

He studied law at the University of Sydney, graduating with honours, and was admitted as a solicitor of the NSW Supreme Court in 1935. In 1940 and 1941, he was official secretary to the NSW Agent-General in London, and acted as Agent-General himself for some months. On return to Australia he advised the NSW and Commonwealth governments on civil defence.[4]

Bland commenced his Australian Public Service career in 1942, as Principal Adviser to the Director-General of Manpower. In 1946 he was appointed Assistant Director of Employment in the Department of Labour and National Service.[4][5] Between 1952 and 1967, Bland was Secretary of the Department of Labour and National Service.[6] In the role, he was the main architect of the Commonwealth Employment Service.[1]

Bland was appointed Secretary of the Department of Defence in 1968, but he stayed in the role just two-years, retiring in 1970.[7] During his short time as head of the department, Bland initiated a broad and intense program of administrative reform,[7] including a "rolling" five year defence program that intended to make allowances for Australian defence needs over a five-year period, expecting to shorten the waiting time for hardware by having service departments make submissions for their needs earlier than in the past.[8]

In 1971-2, he undertook a review of land transport in Victoria for the state government, which resulted in the Bland Report recommending closure of many Victorian Railways branch lines and passenger services.[9]

In July 1976 Bland was appointed Chairman of the ABC,[1] a position in which Dr. Earle Hackett had been acting since the death of Prof Richard Downing in November 1975. He resigned after only five months, following clashes with both staff (who resented his appointment as what they called "Malcolm Fraser's hatchet man") and the Fraser government itself, which backed down on its intention to remove the position of Staff Commissioner on the ABC Board. The position was held by Marius Webb, who had been at loggerheads with Bland from the start.[4]


Bland was honoured as a Knight Bachelor in 1965.[10]


  1. 1 2 3 Farquharson, John, "Bland, Sir Henry (Harry) (1909–1997)", Obituaries Australia, Australian National University, archived from the original on 17 September 2013
  2. Bland, Henry (1975). "Sir Henry Bland interviewed by Mel Pratt for the Mel Pratt collection" (Interview). Interview with Mel Pratt.
  3. Order of the British Empire (PDF), Sydney High School Old Boys Union, archived from the original (PDF) on 2 March 2016
  4. 1 2 3 Farquharson, John, "Administrative guru of his day", The Canberra Times, 13 November 1997, p. 11
  5. "Envoy Post to Sir Edwin Hicks". The Canberra Times. 7 December 1967. p. 1.
  6. CA 40: Department of Labour and National Service, Central Secretariat/ (by 1947 known as Central Office), National Archives of Australia, retrieved 25 April 2014
  7. 1 2 "Sir Henry Bland tells of his unfinished business at Defence". The Canberra Times. 30 September 1970. p. 19.
  8. Juddery, Bruce (28 August 1970). "Sir Henry's legacy of dissatisfaction". The Canberra Times. p. 2.
  9. Victoria, Report of the Board of Inquiry into the Victorian Land Transport System, Government Printer, Melbourne,1972
  10. "Search Australian Honours: BLAND, Henry Armand", itsanhonour.gov.au, Australian Government, archived from the original on 25 April 2014
Government offices
Preceded by
William Funnell
Secretary of the Department of Labour and National Service
Succeeded by
Hal Cook
Preceded by
Sir Ted Hicks
Secretary of the Department of Defence
Succeeded by
Sir Arthur Tange
Media offices
Preceded by
Richard Downing
Chairman of the Australian Broadcasting Commission
Succeeded by
John D Norgard
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