Bob Cotton

The Honourable
Sir Robert Cotton
Senator for New South Wales
In office
4 August 1965  13 July 1978
Preceded by Sir William Spooner
Succeeded by Chris Puplick
Personal details
Born (1915-11-29)29 November 1915
Broken Hill, New South Wales
Died 25 December 2006(2006-12-25) (aged 91)
Sydney, New South Wales
Nationality Australian
Political party Liberal Party of Australia
Occupation Businessman, pastoralist

Sir Robert Carrington "Bob" Cotton KCMG, AO (29 November 1915  25 December 2006) was an Australian politician and Senator for New South Wales in the Parliament of Australia from 1966 to 1978. During that period he held the portfolios of Minister for Civil Aviation in the Gorton and McMahon governments, and Minister for Industry and Commerce in the Fraser government.

Cotton was born in Broken Hill, New South Wales in 1915. He was educated at St Peter's College, Adelaide and trained as a Royal Australian Air Force pilot in 1942 and 1943, but did not participate in action in World War II as he was seconded to the Department of Supply. Instead Cotton established the timber industry in Oberon, New South Wales as a wartime priority.[1]

After the war Cotton became a businessman and pastoralist in Oberon. He was a member of the Liberal Party of Australia from its foundation in 1944. In 1949 and 1950 he was President of Oberon Shire Council. In the 1951 federal election he ran unsuccessfully for the seat of Macquarie against the sitting Australian Labor Party member Ben Chifley (the Leader of the Opposition and a former Prime Minister). From 1957 to 1960 he was New South Wales State President of the Liberal Party.

Cotton was appointed to the Senate to fill a vacancy caused by the resignation of Sir William Spooner in August 1965.[2] He was Minister for Civil Aviation from 1969 to 1972, responsible for the Department of Civil Aviation. During Cotton's term as Minister, the Department introduced security legislations to exclude non-passengers from international airport departure terminals.[3] Cotton was Minister for Industry and Commerce from 1975 to 1977.[4]

Cotton retired from Parliament in 1978. He was Australian Consul-General in New York from 1978 to 1981. He was a director of the Reserve Bank of Australia in 1981 and 1982 and was the Australian Ambassador to the United States from 1982 to 1985, and from 1991 to 1994 he was Chairman of the Australian National Gallery Foundation.[5]

He died on Christmas Day 2006 in Sydney aged 91 after a long illness. He was survived by his second wife, two daughters and a son, three stepchildren, seven grandchildren, four great-grandchildren and a sister.[6]


Cotton was knighted (KCMG) in 1978 and was made an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) in 1993.[5] He received a Doctorate of Science from the University of Sydney in 1995.[7]


  1. "Robert Cotton, 1915–2006". The Sydney Morning Herald. 4 January 2007. Retrieved 5 January 2007.
  2. "The Australian Election Archive Index of Senate appointments 1901–2003". Psephos. Adam Carr. Retrieved 5 January 2007.
  3. Cranston, Frank (1 December 1972). "DCA plan for tighter security". The Canberra Times. ACT. p. 7.
  4. "Sir Robert Cotton" (Press release). Prime Minister of Australia. 29 December 2006. Archived from the original on 30 September 2007. Retrieved 5 January 2007.
  5. 1 2 "Papers of Sir Robert Cotton". National Library of Australia. August 1996. Retrieved 5 January 2007.
  6. "PM pays tribute to Sir Robert Cotton". The Australian. 29 December 2006. Retrieved 5 January 2007.
  7. "Sir Robert Cotton KCMG AO". University of Sydney. 2 June 1995. Retrieved 5 January 2007.
Political offices
Preceded by
Reginald Swartz
Minister for Civil Aviation
Succeeded by
Gough Whitlam
Preceded by
Clyde Cameron
Minister for Science and Consumer Affairs
Succeeded by
James Webster
Preceded by
Lionel Bowen
Minister for Industry and Commerce
Succeeded by
Phillip Lynch
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Peter Barbour
Australian Consul General in New York
Succeeded by
Denis Cordner
Preceded by
Nick Parkinson
Australian Ambassador to the United States
Succeeded by
Rawdon Dalrymple
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