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Andrew Fisher

(1862—1928) prime minister of Australia


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(b. 29 Aug. 1862, d. 22 Oct. 1928).

Prime Minister of Australia 1908–9, 1910–13, 1914–15 Born in Ayrshire (Scotland), in 1879 he was elected district secretary of the Ayrshire Miner's Union, which collapsed after an unsuccessful ten‐week strike in 1881. Fisher emigrated to Queensland in 1885, and within months became manager of a new colliery. In 1891, he founded a local branch of the new Labor Party at Gympie, and became its first president. Elected as Gympie's representative in the Queensland Legislative Assembly, he was one of the few within his party to support a federated Australia. Elected to the first federal parliament in 1901, he became a leading member of the federal Labor caucus (faction). Fisher maintained strong links with the grass roots, succeeding Watson as party leader in 1907.

Fisher withdrew his support from Deakin to form his own government, in which he strove towards more power for the Australian federal state, at the expense of both the British Empire and the individual states. In 1910, he was the first Labor prime minister to be voted into office. His government established a central bank, extended invalidity pensions, and provided maternity allowances. He was less successful in wresting power from the individual states. After narrowly losing the 1913 elections, his support for World War I won him a resounding victory in 1914. He resigned in 1915 due to ill health and his personal opposition to the impending issue of compulsory military service. He became Australian high commissioner in London until 1920, and finally retired to London in 1922.

Subjects: Contemporary History (Post 1945).


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