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The Honourable
 Sir Robert Cotton 
KCMG, AO

In office
4 August 1965 – 13 July 1978

Born 29 November 1915(1915-11-29)
Broken Hill, New South Wales
Died 25 December 2006 (aged 91)
Sydney, New South Wales
Nationality Australian
Political party Liberal Party of Australia
Occupation Businessman, pastoralist

Sir Robert Carrington 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 an Royal Australian Air Force pilot in 1942 and 1943, but did not participate in wartime action 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. Cotton was a member of the Australian Liberal Party from its foundation in 1944. He ran unsuccessfully for the seat of Macquarie against the sitting Australian Labor Party member Ben Chifley in the 1951 federal election. In 1949 and 1950 he was President of Oberon Council. From 1957 to 1960 he was State President, Liberal Party, New South Wales. He 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 and Minister for Industry and Commerce from 1975 to 1977.[3]

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.[4]

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.[5]

Honours

Cotton was knighted (KCMG) in 1978 and was made an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) in 1993.[4] He received a Doctor of Science from the University of Sydney in 1995.[6]

Notes

Political offices
Preceded by
Reginald Swartz
Minister for Civil Aviation
1969 – 1972
Succeeded by
Gough Whitlam
Preceded by
Clyde Cameron
Minister for Science and Consumer Affairs
1975
Succeeded by
James Webster
Preceded by
Lionel Bowen
Minister for Industry and Commerce
1975 – 1977
Succeeded by
Phillip Lynch
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Nicholas Parkinson
Australian Ambassador to the United States
1982 – 1985
Succeeded by
Rawdon Dalrymple
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