The Governor-General and the first Federal Ministry, January 1901

The Governor-General and the first Federal Ministry, January 1901

Seated (L to R): Edmund Barton (NSW), Prime Minister, Minister for External Affairs; Lord Hopetoun, Governor-General; Sir William Lyne (NSW), Minister for Home Affairs

Standing (L to R): Sir John Forrest (WA), Post-Master General; George Turner (Vic), Treasurer; Richard O’Connor (NSW), Vice-President of Executive Council; Sir Neil Lewis (Tas), Minister without portfolio; Sir James Dickson (Qld), Minister for Defence; Alfred Deakin (Vic), Attorney-General; AC Budge, Clerk of the Executive Council, NSW; Charles Kingston (SA), Minister for Trade and Customs

This photo by Crown Studio appeared in the weekly magazine The Sydney Mail and New South Wales Advertiser on Saturday 12 January 1901, two days after Sir James Dickson’s death.

(Dixson Library, State Library of New South Wales)

 

Letters authored in 1901

THE NEW COMMONWEALTH. REJOICINGS AT SYDNEY. FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT. SYDNEY, Jan. 8 1901; Feb. 12 1901. A week has passed since the new century and the new nation were ushered in together. Never was a moonlit midnight in Sydney marked by a wilder, more prolonged, or generally more discordant welcome than was December 31, 1900. Hymns in the churches, patriotic songs in the theatres, glees in the homes, and convivial choruses at the clubs were extensively sung. Outside these places, however, all music was lost in the tumultuous uproar of the streets, where whistles, bells, gongs,…
THE NEW COMMONWEALTH. FISCAL QUESTIONS. AUSTRALIA AND THE WAR. FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT. SYDNEY, Jan. 15 1901; Feb. 20 1901. Awaking in a somewhat dazed condition from nine days’ continuous festivities, the puzzled citizens of New South Wales are looking about them in some bewilderment to discover if they can find some traces of the tremendous change in their fortunes which they have just been cele­brating. So far there is nothing visible but the rows of posts, from which flags are being removed, and galleries, arches, and ornamentations in course of being dismantled. Everything else is…
THE NEW COMMONWEALTH. MR. BARTON’S POLICY. FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT. SYDNEY, Jan. 22 1901; Feb. 26 1901. Mr. Barton, as Prime Minister of the Commonwealth, last week announced the policy on which his Administration proposes to stake its fortunes. What with the arrival of the Governor-General and of the Imperial troops, the celebrations and all the interests associated with them, the public had, for the time at all events, concentrated its attention on holiday events to such a degree that the speech, by suddenly recalling them to their obligations, created a sensation, though in itself…
THE NEW COMMONWEALTH. ELECTION CAMPAIGN. FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT. SYDNEY, Jan. 29 1901; 5 Mar. 1901. The political truce caused by the lamented death of Queen Victoria is now expiring, and on Monday next Mr. Reid will rally the Opposition with the first formal criticism of the Ministerial policy which was unfolded by Mr. Barton, who will reply in the same week. The campaign will then begin in earnest. The only speaker of the first rank who has addressed the public so far has been our State Attorney-General, Mr. B. R. Wise, who has made his bow to the electors of Conobolas, an inland…
AUSTRALIA’S LOYALTY. ITS GROWTH AND POWER. FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT. SYDNEY, Feb. 5 1901; Mar. 12 1901. His Majesty King Edward VII. has been duly proclaimed our Monarch by the Commonwealth Government and by the States of the Union amid the greatest enthusiasm. In Melbourne this was done with much pomp and in the presence of twenty thousand people. It is almost needless to say that not a single antagonistic voice was raised anywhere or on any grounds to mar the unanimity of Australia’s greeting to her King. It was not merely the customary acceptance of a constitu­tional change natural…
THE NEW COMMONWEALTH. AUSTRALIAN BUSH FIRES. PACIFIC ISLAND TROUBLES. FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT. SYDNEY, Feb. 12 1901; Mar. 19 1901. Perhaps the philosophers of the future may trace a relation between the physical surroundings or climate of Australia and the temperament of its people, but it will take a few generations to provide sufficient material for their generalisations, and many more before they are likely to arrive at an agreement. In the meantime the vast extent of the continent and the precariousness of the water supply over the greater part of it render its changeful weather…
THE NEW COMMONWEALTH. FEDERAL ELECTIONS. THE AUSTRALIAN PRESS. FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT. SYDNEY, Feb. 19 1901; Mar. 26 1901. The date of the arrival of the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and York having been determined, it has become possible to fix the Federal election day for the end of March. We have something less than six weeks within which to decide our policy for the next few years, yet it must be confessed that so far the great public is manifesting but a languid interest in its promulgation. We are nightly assured by sundry speakers that the political world is shaken to its very…
THE NEW COMMONWEALTH. SHATTERED IDEALS. FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT. SYDNEY, Feb. 26 1901; Apr. 2 1901. The Commonwealth is beginning by disappoint­ing its best friends. All our idealists were Federalists, and they are now suffering their first disillusions. Much is still possible within the next month, for we are accustomed to rapid elec­tioneering rallies, but at the moment the outlook is depressing. Our first shock has come with the publication of the lists of candidates for the Federal Parliament. These are either our old hacks or colts of no better quality. Our local politicians have…
THE NEW COMMONWEALTH. LABOUR QUESTION. THE SUGAR INDUSTRY. FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT. SYDNEY, Mar. 5 1901; Apr. 9 1901. Only three weeks separate us from the Federal elections, and still the political condition of the continent is torpid. Mr. Reid himself is not before the public, though he is very active behind the curtain arranging for the next and crowning act of his campaign. The Free Trade nominations for the Senate and many of the House constituencies are now published. In the meantime there is nothing striking enough to attract general atten­tion. The war of candidates continues…
THE NEW COMMONWEALTH. ATTITUDE OF NEW ZEALAND. LOVE OF INDEPENDENCE. FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT. SYDNEY, Mar. 12 1901; Apr. 16 1901. The Empire is the sum of its parts, and the more these are united politically and commercially the greater their prosperity and its power. The Commonwealth, which comprises within its control six communities hitherto separate, repre­sents an immense stride, not only towards Australian unity but towards Imperial Federation. But immense as is the extent and promise of our union, it is not yet geographically complete. A seventh province remains apart, not one…
THE NEW COMMONWEALTH. FEATURES OF THE ELECTION. IMPERIAL COURT OF APPEAL. FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT. SYDNEY, Mar. 19 1901; Apr. 23 1901. The nominations for the Senate are complete. Some fifty competitors offer themselves for the six places allotted to New South Wales. The length of the list tells its own tale, and makes the juvenility of our politics quite painfully apparent. There is among us no party discipline, but we have a plentiful supply of egotistic faddists and an incoherent public opinion which encourages the egregious to seek notoriety by appealing for votes. The number of…
THE NEW COMMONWEALTH. DEMAND FOR MEN OF MARK. CABINET RECONSTRUCTION. FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT. SYDNEY, Mar. 26 1901; Apr. 29 1901. The creation of the Commonwealth, whatever may be its effect in its own sphere, has already pro­duced in the States a condition approaching politi­cal paralysis. Nothing less than this would have rendered it possible for Sir William Lyne to continue our Premier for three months after he had accepted office in the Federal Ministry. He has only just resigned his seat for his provincial constituency within a few days of submitting himself for a Commonwealth…
THE NEW COMMONWEALTH. THE FISCAL QUESTION. COMPOSITION OF PARTIES. FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT. SYDNEY, Apr. 2 1901; May 13 1901. The electoral cyclone has passed, and we can now begin to estimate the condition in which it leaves us. In this State it discloses an unmiti­gated defeat of the Protectionists, and conse­quently of the Barton Ministry, whom they are supporting. The Prime Minister’s own seat was not contested, but of the twenty-five constituencies in which the verdict of the electors was challenged, no less than fifteen fell to the Free Trade Opposition. Mr. Reid himself was…
THE NEW COMMONWEALTH. PARTIES IN PARLIAMENT. POLITICAL PREFERENCES. FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT. SYDNEY, Apr. 9 1901; May 15 1901. The composition of the first Parliament of the Commonwealth is on the whole more satisfactory than had been anticipated. The Senate in par­ticular promises to prove an efficient body. Its members being elected by the States as single constituencies, their polling furnishes some in­teresting indications of popular feeling. The number of candidates in New South Wales divided the voters so much that Mr. Walker, who headed the poll with seventy-eight thousand…
THE NEW COMMONWEALTH. MINISTERIAL REORGANISATION. “POLITICAL” APPOINTMENTS. FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT. SYDNEY, Apr. 16 1901; May 24 1901.   The Commonwealth, with its Parliament about to assemble and its Ministry free to commence work, is entering on its most susceptible stage. Precedents are being established which must be potent in their influence on our future development. We are making, of necessity, a fresh beginning in politics, and essaying many important departures. Alert as all are in the endeavour to forecast the ultimate consequences of passing events, and alive as we believe…
THE NEW COMMONWEALTH. PRESTIGE OF THE CROWN. AUSTRALIAN LOYALTY. FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT. SYDNEY, Apr. 23 1901; May 28 1901. The royal visit was predestined to success as far as cordiality of feeling and careful preparation could secure it. Whether the power of the Crown has increased or not, the personal prestige of the Sove­reign and his family undoubtedly is increasing. When the late Grand Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha came to Australia five-and-thirty years since he was received with immense enthusiasm, which was deepened when the act of an insane fanatic shadowed the close of his tour.…
THE NEW COMMONWEALTH. WELCOME RAINS. AGRICULTURAL OUTLOOK. FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT. SYDNEY, Apr. 30 1901; Jun. 4 1901. By far the most important event of the week has occurred outside the political world, gently agitated by speculations as to the legislation which the Barton Cabinet is preparing in Melbourne. The really fruitful and memorable occurrence has been in the physical world, where we have been enriched and inspirited by abundant rains both along the coast—Sydney receiving four and a half inches on Sunday—and inland, where no such welcome fall has been experienced for years. The…
THE NEW COMMONWEALTH. “PRIDE OF RACE.” STATE PARTISANSHIP. FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT. MELBOURNE, May 8 1901; Jun. 13 1901. Their Royal Highnesses the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and York have arrived, and the tension, increasing in Melbourne for weeks past, is at last relieved. The explosion of enthusiastic loyalty with which they were welcomed must have been gratifying because of its absolute unanimity and universality. The scene presented has long since been described at length by means of the telegraph, and it only remains to refer to a few of its distinc­tive features. That which has…
THE NEW COMMONWEALTH. RIVAL POLITICAL PARTIES. FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT. MELBOURNE, May 15 1901; Jun. 20 1901. The description of the splendid festivities and of the ceremony connected with the opening of the Federal Parliament I shall leave to Mr. E. F. Knight, of the Morning Post, who is now here, and is accompanying the royal party throughout the tour. There are, however, points arising out of political considerations connected with the new order of things with which I may deal. There were not wanting ominous incidents in both Chambers, though the Government succeeded with its nomi­nees in…
THE NEW COMMONWEALTH. BUDGET PROBLEMS. REQUIREMENTS AND RESOURCES. FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT. SYDNEY, May 21 1901; Jun. 25 1901. Their Royal Highnesses the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and York are being welcomed in Queensland; and Sydney is busy with preparations which will enable us to vie with Melbourne. As a consequence the actual commencement of our first Australian Parliament is in some danger of being overlooked. Its proceedings will probably prove fitful, if not languid, until our distinguished visitors have left for New Zealand. But for all that, the far-see­ing, especially…
THE NEW COMMONWEALTH. LABOUR PARTY TACTICS. OPPOSITION BLUNDERING. FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT. SYDNEY, May 28 1901; Jul. 6 1901. Sydney is seething with excitement under the joint impulses of the royal visit and the splendid series of magnificent spectacles provided in its honour. It is unfortunate that at such a moment attention should be diverted to private disputes between employers and em­ployed, and unfortunate also that the means by which one of them has been settled should be political coercion, but the fact remains, and its significance cannot be overlooked. An iron trade strike…
THE NEW COMMONWEALTH. FISCAL RELATIONS. IMPERIAL DEFENCE SCHEME. FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT. SYDNEY, Jun. 4 1901; Jul. 11 1901. Commonwealth affairs continue at a discount, and will be so until our royal guests have departed. At present Sydney, attired in her best and with all her leaders present from the Prime Minister down­wards, declines to be deterred either by threats of small-pox or a local strike in the iron trade from her complete surrender to loyal festivities. She has not so far paid serious attention to the intimation that the long-expected conference of legal representatives…
THE NEW COMMONWEALTH. POLITICAL ISSUES. FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT. SYDNEY, Jun. 11 1901; Jul. 23 1901. Our royal visitors are now in New Zealand, where it is to be hoped they will be favoured with a continuance of the “Australian” weather, bright, clear, and sunny, which they have enjoyed on the mainland. In Sydney not even the shadows of the coming State elections, of the small-pox outbreak, or the iron strike could diminish the inexhaustible enthusiasm with which they have been received. The brilliant corps of British journalists who accompany them can paint the spectacles they have…
THE NEW COMMONWEALTH. MINISTERIAL SLIP. VARIOUS STATE PROBLEMS. FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT. SYDNEY, Jun. 18 1901; Jul. 25 1901. To ardent Federalists the progress of the Union appears painfully slow. It is now six months since we were proclaimed one people. It is nearly three months since we elected our representatives, and almost six weeks have elapsed from their meeting in Parliament. All that has been accomplished in the way of legislation has been the launching of a Public Service Bill, providing for the control and payment of the twelve thousand employees with whom we begin national…
THE NEW COMMONWEALTH. THE STATE PARLIAMENTS. RAILWAY RATES. TRADE DIFFICULTIES. FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT. SYDNEY, Jun. 25 1901; Aug. 1 1901. Sydney is not exhilarating just now. The strike of the iron workers drags its slow length along and steadily increases the numbers of those who remain out of work rather than accept the employers’ terms. Shipwrights, boiler makers, dockers, painters, and decorators, and other trades connected with ship­ping are throwing in their lot with their companions. As the area of conflict widens the suffering and bitterness intensify. We are looking…