THD Hall

Thomas Donald Horne (TDH) Hall was the man who moved the resolution that brought the Public Service Association into existence in 1913.


The Public Service Act of 1912 was seen as a breakthrough, and an increasing number of public servants saw the need for an organisation to represent the service in negotiations with the newly established Public Service Commission. The Civil Service Association could obviously not fulfil this role, and the need for a completely new body was apparent.

Talk at the conference went round and round the subject, but, as Hall recalled in 1963 , nobody seemed prepared to “bell the cat”. Accordingly he moved the vital resolution, that incorporation be sought for a Public Service Association to maintain the rights and privileges of the service, and to give expression to the aspirations and desires of its members.

Thomas Hall was at that time a junior officer in the Agriculture Department, but rose to be Clerk of the House of Representatives before his retirement from the service in the 1940s.

Interviewed in 1963, he recalled that had to forsake a Queen’s Jubilee Scholarship to take a cadetship in the Agriculture Department in 1901 at 40 pounds a year a year. Conditions in the Service were very different in those days, with no women, and appointments and promotions largely in the gift of the politicians.

When Queen Victoria died, he recalled, all government offices closed for three weeks and the blinds were drawn in every government office until the official funeral rites were over.

It was the conditions prevailing in the public service which motivated Hall to become involved in the union. Doing what was essentially he was nevertheless paid as junior. Recommendations for increases in salary were consistently turned down by Treasury, which had the determining say in such matters.

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