The Mott family has launched newspapers in New South Wales, Victoria and Western Australia and has owned or held an interest in Australian newspapers for all except seven years since 1856. George Henry Mott (1831–1906) started Albury’s first newspaper, the Border Post, in 1856 after working as a journalist in Melbourne and an editor in Castlemaine and Beechworth. He sold the paper in January 1859, but remained editor until 31 March 1860. The next day he became the owner of the Chiltern Standard in Victoria, and also soon bought the Ovens Tribune in Beechworth. In November that year, he again bought the Border Post. For 11 months, he published his three papers bi-weekly virtually as the one newspaper, with only slight variations. The Albury and Chiltern papers were published daily from 19 January 1863, but changed to tri-weekly 10 weeks later, only three weeks after buying the Constitution in Beechworth. Mott sold his newspapers in February 1864. As a citizen, he campaigned for separation of the Riverina, organised an anti-customs league and in 1868 was mayor of Albury. His greatest work was the formation of the North-Eastern Railway League, which resulted in the completion of the Melbourne–Wodonga line and the eventual link with Albury.
In 1869, George Mott returned to Victoria, having bought a partnership in the Hamilton Spectator, which he edited until 1885. Three sons—Sydney Arthur Charnock (1859–1929), Hamilton Charnock (1871–1963) and Decimus Horace (1873–1947)—joined the rush to the Western Australian goldfields in the 1890s, starting newspapers at Kalgoorlie and Coolgardie. Back in Melbourne, with Federation a reality, Mott reminded his sons that Albury was one of the sites being considered for the national capital. Hamilton and Decimus returned to Albury and established the daily Border Morning Mail on 24 October 1903. With 11 Motts working at the Mail in 1924, the two brothers decided they should take separate paths. Hamilton stayed, buying the interest in the Mail held by Decimus, who moved to Melbourne with his family, buying and developing the Leader group of suburban newspapers. At least one of Decimus’s three older brothers owned newspapers in the suburbs of Melbourne from 1888 until 1923. The Leader group merged with Progress Press in 1976.
By the 1980s, the Leader group controlled more than 40 per cent of Melbourne’s suburban newspapers. The Herald and Weekly Times bought Leader for $57 million in 1986, but was swallowed by News Limited a year later. One branch of the family continued its newspaper interests when Walter Hilaire Mott acquired an interest in the East Gippsland Newspaper Group (James Yeates & Sons Pty Ltd), publishers of the Bairnsdale Advertiser, Lakes Post and East Gippsland News. At Albury, the Mott family continued as owners of the Border Mail and moved it across the border to Wodonga in 1999. On 25 July 2006, John Fairfax Holdings Ltd (now Fairfax Media) completed the acquisition of the Albury daily that the Motts had run for 103 years.
REF: R. Kirkpatrick, Country Conscience (2000).