John Coates’ long political career, first as a Member of the House of Representatives for the seat of Denison (1972–75) and then as a Tasmanian senator (1981–96), mirrored the fortunes of federal Labor over three decades. John Coates was born in Melbourne on 23 March 1944, the son of Graeme Coates and his wife Catherine, née Croker. Both his parents were primary school teachers
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Jean Margaret Button (later Hearn), was born in Launceston, Tasmania, on 30 March 1921. Jean was the eldest of four children of Elton Roy Button, a draper, and his English-born wife Emily Gertrude, née Barrow. The family lived at Smithton on the north-west coast. Jean attended the local primary school and then Methodist Ladies’ College (now Scotch Oakburn College), Launceston. On 28 September 1940,
Reginald James Murray was born in Wellington, New Zealand, on 27 April 1906 to Walter James Murray, a commercial traveller, and Nellie, née Miller. Walter Murray’s birthplace was Edinburgh; Nellie was born in Hobart. After Reginald’s birth, the family moved to Brisbane, Queensland, and later to Hobart, Tasmania, where Reg (as he came to be known) developed the ‘natural curiosity . . . of
Robert Hurley Wordsworth, army officer, civil administrator and farmer, who confessed to entering politics as an ‘afterthought’, was born on 21 July 1894 at Collarenebri, New South Wales, son of William Henry Wordsworth, storekeeper, and Robena, née Walker. William later became a pastoralist in the Cowra district. Robert was educated at Sydney Church of England Grammar School (1908-10), where he was a military cadet.