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George Richard Dibbs

(1834—1904) politician in Australia


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(1834–1904) became a well-known figure in the Sydney shipping and trade world of the 1870s. He entered the Legislative Assembly in 1874, committed to representing local business, and a staunch advocate of state responsibility for education. For supporting assisted immigration, he was branded an enemy of labour and lost his seat in 1877. Excoriated by the unions and elements of the press for being chairman of a shipping company that used Chinese labour, Dibbs regained popular support for serving a prison sentence rather than pay a fine for slander. He was returned to parliament in 1882 and was appointed colonial treasurer. Between 1885 and 1894 he served three times as premier of protectionist ministries. Elected to represent NSW at the 1891 Federal Convention, Dibbs reluctantly accepted the inevitability of the union, but he was chiefly intent on sabotaging the plans of his rival Parkes, which explains his support for Sydney as the federal capital. While in London the following year promoting Australia's creditworthiness, he ignored the advice of Edmund Barton and his republican sympathies, and accepted a knighthood. He later proposed a plan for the unification of NSW and Victoria, and the gradual absorption of the smaller colonies. In 1894 Dibbs's government was defeated; in 1895 he lost his seat.

From The Oxford Companion to Australian History in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Australasian and Pacific History.


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