|27 April 1904 – 18 August 1904|
|Prime Minister||Chris Watson|
|Status||Minority (Protectionist support)|
|Start reason||Predecessor lost confidence motion|
|End reason||Lost confidence motion|
|Predecessor||Deakin Government (I)|
The Watson Government was the third federal executive government of the Commonwealth of Australia. It was led by Prime Minister Chris Watson of the Australian Labor Party from 27 April 1904 to 18 August 1904. The Watson Government was the first Labor Party national government in both Australia and in the world.Watson was aged just 37 when he became Prime Minister of Australia, and remains the youngest person to have held the post.
John Christian Watson, commonly known as Chris Watson, was an Australian politician who served as the third Prime Minister of Australia. He was the first Prime Minister from the Australian Labour Party, and led the world's first Labour Party government, indeed the world's first socialist or social democratic government, at a national level. From paternal German and maternal British ancestry, he is the only Australian Prime Minister not born in a Commonwealth country.
The Australian Labor Party is a major centre-left political party in Australia. The party has been in opposition at the federal level since the 2013 election. Bill Shorten has been the party's federal parliamentary leader since 13 October 2013. The party is a federal party with branches in each state and territory. Labor is in government in the states of Victoria, Queensland, Western Australia, and in both the Australian Capital Territory and Northern Territory. The party competes against the Liberal/National Coalition for political office at the federal and state levels. It is the oldest political party in Australia.
The Australian Federal Parliament had come into being with the Federation of Britain's Australian colonies in 1901. Edmund Barton's Protectionists held power in coalition with Labour, until Barton was succeeded by Alfred Deakin. The short-lived first Deakin Government failed to pass any legislation in the fledgling Australian Federal Parliament, and its shaky coalition with the Labour Party did not long survive the December 1903 Election. By the resumption of Parliament in March 1904, the Deakin Government had fallen, amid a dispute over a Labour Party amendment to the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill.
The Federation of Australia was the process by which the six separate British self-governing colonies of Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia, and Western Australia agreed to unite and form the Commonwealth of Australia, establishing a system of federalism in Australia. Fiji and New Zealand were originally part of this process, but they decided not to join the federation. Following federation, the six colonies that united to form the Commonwealth of Australia as states kept the systems of government that they had developed as separate colonies, but they also agreed to have a federal government that was responsible for matters concerning the whole nation. When the Constitution of Australia came into force, on 1 January 1901, the colonies collectively became states of the Commonwealth of Australia.
Sir Edmund "Toby" Barton, was an Australian politician and judge who served as the first Prime Minister of Australia, in office from 1901 to 1903. He resigned to become a founding member of the High Court of Australia, where he served until his death.
Alfred Deakin was an Australian politician who served as the second Prime Minister of Australia, in office for three separate terms – 1903 to 1904, 1905 to 1908, and 1909 to 1910. Before entering office, he was a leader of the movement for Australian federation.
Under Watson, Labour had adopted a policy of support for the Barton and Deakin Governments in return for concessions. However, the response of the conservative Victorian Government to a railway strike led Federal Labour to stridently pursue inclusion of state public servants within the ambit of the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, which Deakin was reluctant to accept. Labour made gains at the 1903 Election, and when Deakin sought to reintroduce his Bill following the election, the Labour amendment was again carried, leading Deakin to resign.
John Christian (Chris) Watson (1867–1941) was a trade unionist, company director, and politician who led Australia's—and the world's—first Labor national government.
Watson left school aged ten, worked as an assistant railway construction worker, farm hand, stable hand and compositor before becoming heavily involved in trade union politics. He was elected to the Trades and Labour Council in 1890, and the following year became involved with the newly formed Labor Party, entering the NSW Parliament as a Labour MP in 1894.He was active in arguing the Labour case for Federation, and joined Labor's opposition to the Australian Constitution put to referendum in the 1890s, though accepted the majority vote once obtained.
Watson entered the new Federal Parliament as Member for Bland, and at the first meeting of the Federal Parliamentary Labor Party in May 1901, he was elected leader. Through the first decade of Federation, Labour, the Protectionists and Free Traders were unable to secure majorities and were forced to govern in coalitions.Watson was aged just 37 when he became Prime Minister of Australia, and remains the youngest person to hold the post. McMullin wrote of Watson that "in that era of intractable parliamentary unwieldiness, his party had to pursue its objectives in concert with non-Labor MPs, and Watson's amiable personality was an important factor in Labor's capacity to negotiate desirable outcomes."
The Division of Bland was an Australian electoral division in New South Wales. The division was proclaimed in 1900, and was one of the original 65 divisions to be contested at the first federal election. It was abolished in 1906. It was named for Dr William Bland, a New South Wales colonial politician. Based in rural southern New South Wales, it included the towns of Narrandera, Young, Wagga Wagga and West Wyalong. Bland was held by Chris Watson, the first Leader of the federal parliamentary Labor Party and Australia's first Labor Prime Minister. When Bland was abolished in 1906, Watson transferred to South Sydney.
The Watson Ministry was the third Australian Commonwealth ministry, and ran from 27 April 1904 to 17 August 1904. It was the first federal ministry formed by the Australian Labor Party.
Watson became Treasurer, and gave External Affairs to Billy Hughes. Home Affairs went to Egerton Batchelor, and Trade and Customs to Andrew Fisher. Anderson Dawson became Minister for Defence and Hugh Mahon was appointed Postmaster-General. The portfolio of Attorney General went to H. B. Higgins, who was not a Labour member.
Watson commanded a majority in neither the House of Representatives, nor the Senate.Many Australian conservatives greeted the arrival of a Labour Government with fear. Deakin promised "the utmost fair play" to allow the new government to operate, but his Protectionist Party was too divided to agree to serve in a Labour led alliance. Watson soon admitted to "despair", and when his government lost a vote on an amendment to the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill regarding unionists, Watson resigned.
Amid the volatile environment of early Federation Australian politics, the Watson Government passed just six bills. Other than an amended Acts Interpretation Act 1904, these were all money bills, however, Watson advanced the landmark Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, passed later in 1904 by the Reid Government.
George Reid of the Free Trade Party was sworn in as Prime Minister on 18 August, and Watson returned to negotiations with the liberal wing of the Protectionists. Reid governed in shaky coalition with the Protectionists, and his government lasted until July 1905. Reid denounced Labour as the "Socialist tiger". Watson encouraged Deakin to abandon the Free Traders, saying: "We, and especially me, don't want office, but I have the utmost anxiety to stop the retrogressive movement which Reid is heading." Deakin commenced his second term as Prime Minister in July 1905, with Labour's support.
Reid adopted a strategy of trying to reorient the party system along Labour vs non-Labour lines – prior to the 1906 election, he renamed his Free Trade Party to the Anti-Socialist Party. Reid envisaged a spectrum running from socialist to anti-socialist, with the Protectionists in the middle. This attempt struck a chord with politicians who were steeped in the Westminster tradition and regarded a two-party system as very much the norm.
Sir George Houston Reid was an Australian politician who led the Reid Government as the fourth Prime Minister of Australia from 1904 to 1905, having previously been Premier of New South Wales from 1894 to 1899. He led the Free Trade Party from 1891 to 1908.
The Free Trade Party which was officially known as the Australian Free Trade and Liberal Association, also referred to as the Revenue Tariff Party in some states, was an Australian political party, formally organised in 1887 in New South Wales, in time for the 1887 colony election, which the party won. It advocated the abolition of protectionism, especially protective tariffs and other restrictions on trade, arguing that this would create greater prosperity for all. However, many members also advocated use of minimal tariffs for government revenue purposes only. Its most prominent leader was George Reid, who led the Reid Government as the fourth Prime Minister of Australia (1904-5). In New South Wales it was succeeded by the Liberal and Reform Association in 1902, and federally by the Anti-Socialist Party in 1906. In 1909, the Anti-Socialist Party merged with the Protectionist Party to form the Commonwealth Liberal Party.
The Protectionist Party was an Australian political party, formally organised from 1887 until 1909, with policies centred on protectionism. It advocated protective tariffs, arguing it would allow Australian industry to grow and provide employment. It had its greatest strength in Victoria and in the rural areas of New South Wales. Its most prominent leaders were Sir Edmund Barton and Alfred Deakin, who were the first and second prime ministers of Australia.
The Commonwealth Liberal Party was a political movement active in Australia from 1909 to 1917, shortly after Federation. The CLP came about as a result of a merger between the two non-Labor parties, the Protectionist Party and the Anti-Socialist Party which most of their MPs accepted. The CLP is the earliest direct ancestor of the current Liberal Party of Australia.
The First Deakin Ministry (Protectionist) was the 2nd ministry of the Government of Australia. It was led by the country's 2nd Prime Minister, Alfred Deakin. The First Deakin Ministry succeeded the Barton Ministry, which dissolved on 24 September 1903 following Sir Edmund Barton's retirement from Parliament to enter the inaugural High Court. The ministry was replaced by the Watson Ministry on 27 April 1904 after the Labour Party withdrew their support over the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill.
The Watson Ministry (Labour) was the 3rd ministry of the Government of Australia, and the first national Labour government formed in the world. It was led by the country's 3rd Prime Minister, Chris Watson. The Watson Ministry succeeded the First Deakin Ministry, which dissolved on 27 April 1904 after Labour withdrew their support and Alfred Deakin was forced to resign. The ministry was replaced by the Reid Ministry on 17 August 1904 after the Protectionist Party withdrew their support over the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill.
Sir William John Lyne KCMG was an Australian politician who served as Premier of New South Wales from 1899 to 1901, and later as a federal cabinet minister under Edmund Barton and Alfred Deakin. He is best known as the subject of the "Hopetoun Blunder", unexpectedly being asked to serve as the first Prime Minister of Australia but failing to form a government.
Henry Bournes Higgins KC, known by his initials, was an Australian lawyer, politician, and judge. He served on the High Court of Australia from 1906 until his death.
Allan McLean was an Australian politician who served as the 19th Premier of Victoria, in office from 1899 to 1900. He was later elected to federal parliament, where he served as a government minister under George Reid.
Federal elections for the inaugural Parliament of Australia were held in Australia on Friday 29 March and Saturday 30 March 1901. The elections followed Federation and the establishment of the Commonwealth of Australia on 1 January 1901. All 75 seats in the Australian House of Representatives, six of which were uncontested, as well as all 36 seats in the Australian Senate, were up for election.
Federal elections were held in Australia on 16 December 1903. All 75 seats in the House of Representatives, and 19 of the 36 seats in the Senate were up for election. The incumbent Protectionist Party minority government led by Prime Minister Alfred Deakin retained the most House of Representatives seats of the three parties and retained government with the parliamentary support of the Labour Party led by Chris Watson. The Free Trade Party led by George Reid remained in opposition.
Federal elections were held in Australia on 12 December 1906. All 75 seats in the House of Representatives, and 18 of the 36 seats in the Senate were up for election. The incumbent Protectionist Party minority government led by Prime Minister Alfred Deakin retained government, despite winning the fewest House of Representatives votes and seats of the three parties. Parliamentary support was provided by the Labour Party led by Chris Watson, while the Anti-Socialist Party, led by George Reid, remained in opposition.
The Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act 1904 was a law passed by the Parliament of Australia and received assent on 15 December 1904. The Act sought to introduced the rule of law in industrial relations in Australia and, besides other things, established the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration.
The Barton Government was the first federal Executive Government of the Commonwealth of Australia. It was led by Prime Minister Sir Edmund Barton, from 1 January 1901 until 24 September 1903, when Barton resigned to become one of the three founding judges of the High Court of Australia.
The history of the Australian Labor Party has its origins in the Labour parties founded in the 1890s in the Australian colonies prior to federation. Labor tradition ascribes the founding of Queensland Labour to a meeting of striking pastoral workers under a ghost gum tree in Barcaldine, Queensland in 1891. The Balmain, New South Wales branch of the party claims to be the oldest in Australia. Labour as a parliamentary party dates from 1891 in New South Wales and South Australia, 1893 in Queensland, and later in the other colonies.
The first Deakin Government was the second federal executive government of the Commonwealth of Australia. It was led by Prime Minister Alfred Deakin, from 24 September 1903 until 27 April 1904. Deakin was the second Prime Minister of Australia, but served as Prime Minister again from 1905–1908 and 1909–1910 – see Second Deakin Government and Third Deakin Government.
The Reid Government refers to the period of federal executive government of Australia led by Prime Minister George Reid. It lasted from 18 August 1904 - 5 July 1905. Reid was the one and only Prime Minister of Australia to belong to the Free Trade Party. Allan McLean of the Protectionist Party served as deputy.
The Deakin Government (1905-1908) refers to the period of federal executive government of Australia led by Prime Minister Alfred Deakin. It lasted from 5 July 1905 to 13 November 1908. Deakin was the second Prime Minister of Australia having previously led the Deakin Government (1903-1904), and held the office again in 1909–1910.