According to Punch (McKinley), Jens August Jensen was a Tasmanian 20 stone (127 kilogram) giant ‘with protuberant girth and wealth of watch chain’.
The son of Danish gold-rush immigrants, Jensen worked as a stable boy, rabbit-hawker, miner and mining engine-driver before finally achieving wealth as a publican in Tasmania.
He won the house of assembly seat of George Town two years after federation. George Town had recorded one of the highest ‘yes’ votes for federation in Australia.
In 1910 Jensen won the federal seat of Bass. His portfolios included defence, trade, customs and navy, but he lost the ministry after criticism of his handling of navy purchases.
According to the Australian Dictionary of Biography, Jensen was placid in public, at times violent at home and gave most of his wealth away to Maggie Gilbert his alcoholic cousin and mistress for 37 years. His estate was contested unsuccessfully by four of his children after his death at South Caulfield.