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William Morris Hughes

(1862—1952) prime minister of Australia


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(1862–1952)

Australian statesman and prime minister (1915–23). He was awarded the CH in 1941.

Born in London, of Welsh parents, Hughes was educated in London as a student teacher before emigrating to Australia at the age of twenty. He studied law at Sydney University and was admitted to the bar in 1903.

Hughes first entered politics when he was elected to the New South Wales parliament in 1894. Transferring to federal parliament in 1901, he became leader of the Labor Party and prime minister in 1915. Leaving the party in 1917 over the issue of conscription, which he strongly supported, Hughes continued in office as the head of the newly formed Nationalist Party. In 1919 he attended the Paris Peace Conference, where he secured an Australian mandate for part of New Guinea and other German colonies in the Pacific. Resigning as prime minister in 1923 after the break-up of his coalition government, he remained politically active and was appointed attorney general (1939–41) and a member of the War Advisory Council (1941–45). His death, at eighty-eight, ended a political life spanning fifty-eight years.

Subjects: History.


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