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From: "Queensland 1900: a narrative of her past, together with biographies of her leading men", compiled by the Alcazar Press, Brisbane.


Mr. HUGH MILES MILMAN

CHIEF COMMISSIONER OF STAMPS FOR THE COLONY OF QUEENSLAND AND ITS DEPENDENCIES

Contrary to the generally accepted belief, the Department of Stamps, with which in Queensland are incorporated probate and succession duties, is one of the most important in the colony - in fact, ever since the original establishment of these taxes, their control and administration has been bestowed only on men of the clearest ability and proved experience. It is not necessary "to grope the dull way on by the dim glittering light of ages gone" to seek the origin of this revenue; and although some writers have contended that collection of money by means of impressed stamps dates back from remote antiquity, they are clearly wrong in that nebulous suggestion, for all the best authorities concur in attributing the origin of stamp duties, as they are known to us now, to Holland, where duties of this description were first imposed in the year 1624. Nor were the English slow to adopt this unique sort of national income, and we find that in the first year of the reign of George the First, the exchequer of that king was enriched by this method of taxation by no less of a sum than £120,000. Since that period this convenient and exact method of raising Government funds has had greater and greater vogue, till at the present day stamps and death duties form one of the most considerable items in the revenue accounts of every portion of the British Empire. In the manipulation and regulation of the raising of income under the various Stamp Acts, in organising the distribution of certain stamped documents, and in the estimation of the amount of stamp and death duty payable in various cases, many points of law and public policy continually arise, and no little adroitness and administrative skill are required, in order to obtain the largest sum with the easiest incidence of the burden, thus avoiding friction with the public. Who will forget that clever manoeuvre put into effect by Mr. Goschen, the British Chancellor of the Exchequer? It was brought to his knowledge that thousands of documents throughout Great Britain were either unstamped or insufficiently stamped, and was therefore liable to a penalty of £10 for each document on presentation for stamping purposes. In the ordinary way these documents would never have been stamped at all. However, a proclamation was issued, remitting the penalty on the papers being presented for stamping within a certain time. The whole affair was a great success. All persons in possession of unstamped documents hastened to avail themselves the opportunity. They themselves were only too pleased to escape the penalties, whilst Mr. Goschen was enabled to place a handsome sum to the credit of the consolidated revenues of the United Kingdom. This is but one instance; but the history of impressed stamps bristles with similar cases of clever taxation. The same practice was followed by the Government on the passage of the Stamp Act of 1890, by which the public received similar advantages for 30 days. In the year 1890, the necessity was strongly felt in the Colony of remodelling and reorganising the then methods of collecting revenue by means of stamp duties, and under and by virtue of the Stamp Act of that year, what amounted to practically a new department was constituted for that purpose, of which more will be said later.

Mr. Hugh Miles Milman, the subject of this biographical notice, was born in London on the 3rd day of August, 1845, and was educated at Marlborough College. He is the son of Sir William Milman, a baronet of the United Kingdom. Originally intended for the navy, he entered this, our foremost service, at the age of 14 years, but after duly and creditably serving five years as a midshipman, was invalided home, and in the year 1865 arrived in the colony of Queensland. Like scores of other younger sons, not being destined to succeed to the family estates, he sought fresh woods and pastures new in what was then the but partially explored hinterland of this colony. In these comparatively-speaking desert districts he entered with enthusiasm into squatting pursuits, and for years was engaged in the arduous and unthankful task of opening up new country on the "Barcoo." The difficulties of these enterprises are well nigh unconquerable by the first generation, and it only too frequently happens that the less adventurous and more matter-of-fact farmer, who comes on the scene much later in the day, takes the major advantage of the pioneer work which was effected often years before he left the motherland. For many years Mr. Milman wrestled with all the difficulties which surround a half-reclaimed run in Australia, but at length exceptional drought and disease among his stock played such havoc with his squatting enterprises, that he accepted what the colony was only too anxious to bestow, namely, the position of police magistrate at Aramac. This was in 1881, and in 1883 the subject of this notice was removed to Cooktown. Here he remained some four and a half years in all, still holding the Government post of police magistrate. But Mr. Douglas receiving the position of Administrator of New Guinea, Mr. Milman was appointed to the somewhat unique position of Government Resident of Thursday island, and, in addition, was made Deputy Commissioner for the western portion of the possession of New Guinea, and Deputy Commissioner under the High Commissioner for the West pacific. Whilst holding these latter appointments, which of course included the control of the "Islands," Mr. Milman saw much of what may be described as active service. He ascended the Fly River, a somewhat hazardous undertaking, for some 100 miles, and pursued various other explorations and expeditions of a similar character. In controlling the natives of the Island he displayed much tact, and was able to smooth over those difficulties which so frequently arise between them and the whites as a result of prejudice and race feeling on either side. It was about this time - in 1890 - that the Government of the colony found it advisable, as has been before mentioned, to remodel the administration of its stamps and death duties, and it became necessary to choose the man whose judicial and administrative experience and capabilities most fitted him for the position. After some consideration the Executive unanimously decided to offer the post to Mr. Milman, and he accepting was at once appointed Chief Commissioner of Stamps for Queensland under the Stamps Act of 1890. Under his control the whole department (much to the colony’s benefit) has been submitted to drastic reform and exact organisation. Much that was old and useless has been swept away by the Chief Commissioner, whilst much that is new and advantageous has been introduced by him into his department, which now works with all the regularity and absence of friction of a well-oiled machine. Mr. Milman comes of an ancient English family, and his father is a baronet of the United Kingdom as previously stated. We find in "Burke’s Peerage" that Francis Milman, the son of the Rev Francis Milman, by Sarah Dwyer his wife of the old family of Dwyer of Levaton in Devonshire, having attained his eminence in the medical profession, was appointed physician to king George III, and was created a baronet by that monarch. The arms of the family are as follows: 3 dexter gaunlets open arg per pale, erm, and erminous attired and ungule d, or, charged on the body with two hirrts fesseways; motto: Deus Nobisque quis contra. The family seat is still where it has been for generations, at Levaton, Woodland, Devonshire, England. The subject of this sketch married in 1871 the youngest daughter of John Jardine, chief gold commissioner for Queensland. This lady is also nobly descended, and is the grand-daughter of Sir Alexander Jardine, baronet, of Abbelgirth, County Dumfries, whose wife was the sister of the Duke of Queensbury. Mr. Milman had three children the issue of this marriage, all daughters - Helen, Cecil Maule, Edith Mary, and the second of whom in 1899 married Dr Berry, of Southport, Queensland. On two occasions Mr. Milman has visited England. It is no flattery to say that he well deserves the gratitude of Queensland. He first helped her in breaking down the barriers of the remote bush, thus making an easier path for the innumerable footsteps of those that follow. In her public service, and in the Islands and New Guinea, whilst continually exercising in his official duties a considerable degree of business acumen, his administration was always characterised by dignity, and by that high sense of honour and absolute unswerving devotion in duty which even in these degenerate days calls forth the emulation and honest admiration of every decent Englishman. His private life is spotless. He has a commanding presence; he is a born administrator, and possesses a simplicity and natural courtesy of manner which, whilst impossible to be learned is so distinguishing a mark of the English gentleman.


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