Ernest Burgmann

Ernest Burgmann (1885 – 1967) educator, social activist and bishop
In 1934 Burgmann was called to be bishop of Goulburn (Canberra and Goulburn from 1950).  He refused to abdicate the role of social and church critic. He maintained his interest in working-class struggles and took up rural issues, such as soil erosion and hydro-electric power. His monthly letters to the diocesan paper, Southern Churchman, became national news. Energetically improving his ‘team’, he promoted university and continuing education for the clergy, and sought well-trained men and women for posts in the diocese.

Ernest Henry Burgmann was a prominent Australian Anglican bishop and social activist. He served as the bishop of Goulburn from 1934, and Canberra and Goulburn from 1950 to 1960.

Although he never joined a political party, Burgmann was active in Australian politics and maintained a strong interest in working-class issues. H. V. Evatt appointed him to the Australian delegation at the 1948 United Nations Assembly in Paris. Burgmann opposed the attempted banning of the Communist Party of Australia in 1951 and was described by Prime Minister Robert Menzies in Parliament as a “most meddlesome priest”.

Burgmann wrote prolifically throughout his life, mainly essays and booklets on social justice and reform, together with interpretations of biblical scripture. Burgmann College, established in 1971 and affiliated with the Australian National University, and Burgmann Anglican School in Canberra are named after him. He was the grandfather of Australian Labor Party politician, Meredith Burgmann and academic Verity Burgmann and great grandfather of comedian Charles Firth and (former) politician Verity Firth.

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Burgmann College

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