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Andrew Fisher

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Rt Hon Andrew Fisher

Andrew Fisher (29 August, 1862 - 22 October, 1928), Australian politician and fifth Prime Minister of Australia, was born in Crosshouse, a mining village near Kilmarnock in Ayrshire Scotland. He had almost no formal education and worked in the coal-mines from childhood. In 1885 he and his brother migrated to Queensland, where Fisher worked as a miner, first in Burrum and then in Gympie, where he married Margaret Irvine, his landlady's daughter. He was active in the Amalgamated Miners Union and was part owner of a labour newspaper, the Gympie Truth.

In 1893 Fisher was elected to the Queensland Legislative Assembly as Labor MP for Gympie. He lost his seat in 1896, but won it back in 1899. In that year he was Secretary for Railways and Public Works in the seven-day government of Anderson Dawson, the first parliamentary socialist government in the world. Like most Labor men, he was lukewarm towards federation, but when the first federal Parliament was elected in 1901, he was elected Labor MP for Wide Bay.

Fisher was Minister for Trade and Customs in the Watson government in 1904, and established himself as one of Labor's most prominent leaders, with a reputation for financial knowledge and "soundness." When Watson retired in 1907, Fisher was his natural successor as Labor leader, although Billy Hughes also wanted the position.

When Alfred Deakin's Protectionist government resigned in 1908, Fisher formed his first, minority, government. In 1909 Deakin formed the Liberal Party and Fisher was voted out after eight months in office, but his tenure of office heightened his reputation. At the April 1910 elections, Labor won control of both Houses and Fisher formed Australia's first majority Labor government.

Fisher's 1910-13 ministry carried out many reforms, such as establishing old-age pensions, forming an Australian Navy and issuing Australia's first paper currency. But his two attempts, in 1911 and 1913, to carry constitutional referendums to give the government power to regulate monopolies and industrial conditions were rejected by the voters, and at the 1913 elections Labor was narrowly defeated by the Liberals, led by Joseph Cook.

Labor retained control of the Senate, and in 1914 Cook engineered a double dissolution election in an attempt to gain control of both Houses. The First World War broke out in the middle of the election campaign, and Fisher was able to campaign on Labor's record of support for an independent Australian defence force. He pledged that Australia would "stand beside the mother country to help and defend her to the last man and the last shilling." Labor won the election comfortably.

But Fisher found the strain of leadership in wartime taxing, particularly the pressure to introduce conscription, which he opposed. By 1915 his health was suffering, and in October he resigned and was succeeded by Hughes. The Cabinet then appointed him High Commissioner in London, where he served as a popular representative of Australia until 1921. He continued to live in London in retirement, despite calls by some Laborites in Australia for him to return and re-enter politics. He died in London in 1928.

The federal electoral division of Fisher is named after him.

See also

External links

  • Andrew Fisher (http://primeministers.naa.gov.au/meetpm.asp?pmId=6) - Australia's Prime Ministers / National Archives of Australia


Preceded by:
Chris Watson
Leader of the Australian Labor Party
1907–1915
Succeeded by:
Billy Hughes
Preceded by:
Sir William Lyne
Treasurer of Australia
1908-1909
Succeeded by:
Sir John Forrest
Preceded by:
Sir John Forrest
Treasurer of Australia
1910-1913
Succeeded by:
Sir John Forrest
Preceded by:
Sir John Forrest
Treasurer of Australia
1914-1915
Succeeded by:
William Higgs
Preceded by:
Alfred Deakin
Prime Minister of Australia
1908–1909
Succeeded by:
Alfred Deakin
Preceded by:
Alfred Deakin
Prime Minister of Australia
1910–1913
Succeeded by:
Joseph Cook
Preceded by:
Joseph Cook
Prime Minister of Australia
1914–1915
Succeeded by:
Billy Hughes

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Template:AustraliaPMde:Andrew Fisher

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