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Rogers, Frederick Arthur (1910–1983)

by Doug Tucker

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 18, (MUP), 2012

Frederick Arthur Rogers (1910-1983), orchardist and local government leader, was born on 16 October 1910 at Hartfield, East Sussex, England, fifth of six children of Arthur Edward Rogers, gardener, and his wife Ada Jane, née Lee.  Arriving in Australia soon after Fred’s first birthday, the Rogers family settled at Canungra, Queensland, before moving in 1916 to The Summit, near Stanthorpe, where Arthur established an orchard.  Educated locally, Fred left school at 13 and worked full time for his father, while playing soccer and other sports for recreation.  On 1 November 1934 at St Luke’s Church of England, Toowoomba, he married Annie Barbara Fitch.  The Rogers family acquired more land and developed its fruit-growing business.

Elected to the Stanthorpe Shire Council in 1943, Rogers became deputy shire chairman in 1946 and, from 1948, served for thirty-five years as shire chairman.  He was appointed in 1949 to the Stanthorpe Hospital Board (deputy-chairman 1959-81) and in 1965 to the Stanthorpe Fire Brigade Board.  At the 1956, 1957 and 1960 State elections he had unsuccessfully stood as the Country Party candidate for the seat of Carnarvon.  He was president (1967-76) of the Darling Downs Local Government Association.

A member (1960-83) of the executive of the Local Government Association of Queensland, Rogers sat on the traffic (1960-64), industrial (1964-83) and finance (1972-83) committees.  He was senior vice-president in 1971 and president in 1972-83.  Also on the executive (1972-83) of the Australian Council of Local Government Associations, he was elected president for 1973 and for 1979.  In 1973 he led local government delegates to the first Commonwealth Constitutional Convention, held in Melbourne.  Representing local government on both the executive and standing committee 'A', he attended subsequent conventions in 1975, 1976, 1978 and 1983.  He was also a member (1976-83) of the Advisory Council for Inter-government Relations.

Rogers led the LGAQ when it was struggling with unprecedented challenges arising from the regional development policies of Gough Whitlam’s Federal Labor government and from the increasingly anti-local government decisions of (Sir) Johannes Bjelke-Petersen’s State administration.  In the 1970s the association was faced with the Queensland government’s failure to consult, especially in relation to electoral changes; its dismissal of the Gold Coast City Council in 1978 and threats to oust others; the transfer of important responsibilities away from shire and town councils; escalating financial pressures; and growing industrial unrest.  Rogers’s unswerving support for local government, ability to make impromptu speeches, skill in negotiation, instant recall of detail and impartial chairmanship of meetings and conferences commanded universal respect.  Calm, dignified, tireless and courageous, he was regarded with affection by those around him.  In 1976 the Institute of Municipal Administration made him an honorary fellow.  He was appointed MBE (1974) and OBE (1980).

Of medium height, stocky build and fair complexion, Rogers was active in many district sporting, community and industry associations.  He was founding president (1954-60) of the Stanthorpe Apple Blossom Festival, a charter member of the Rotary Club of Stanthorpe (and a Paul Harris fellow), sometime chairman of The Summit fruit-growers’ co-operative and president of the local bowls club.  At the time of his death he was patron of the Stanthorpe Soccer Club and the Stanthorpe and District Choral Society.  Survived by his wife and two of their three sons, Rogers died on 4 July 1983 at Stanthorpe and was buried with Uniting Church forms in the local cemetery, after a funeral service attended by 1500 people.  A portrait by Robert Barnett hangs in the Stanthorpe Civic Centre.  The LGAQ set up the Fred Rogers Memorial Trust to fund research on local government matters.

Select Bibliography

  • Notable Queenslanders 1975
  • D. Tucker, 'Local Government and Decentralisation', in A. Patience (ed), The Bjelke-Petersen Premiership 1968-1983, 1985
  • Local Government Association of Queensland Conference, Proceedings, 1960, 1964, 1971-83
  • Local Government in Queensland, January 1973, p 6
  • Locgov Digest, May 1983, p 3
  • Stanthorpe Border Post, 12 July 1983, p 1
  • private information

Citation details

Doug Tucker, 'Rogers, Frederick Arthur (1910–1983)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.online.anu.edu.au/biography/rogers-frederick-arthur-14464/text25556, published first in hardcopy 2012, accessed online 25 February 2020.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 18, (MUP), 2012

View the front pages for Volume 18

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