Alfred Deakin - Encyclopedia Britannica 1911




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"ALFRED DEAKIN (1856-1919), Australian statesman, was born at Melbourne Aug. 3 1856, the son of a coach proprietor. He was educated at the university of Melbourne and was called to the Victorian bar in 1877; but before that date he had already worked as a journalist, and he continued to contribute frequently to the press, especially to the Melbourne Age. He entered the Victorian Legislature in 1878 and first took office as Minister of Public Works and Water Supply (1883-6). In 1885 he became Solicitor-General and in 1887 he was senior representative for his Colony at the first Imperial Conference held in London on the occasion of Queen Victoria's Jubilee. He was a member of all the bodies formed to promote the Federation of Australia as well as of the delegation which proceeded to London with the Australian Commonwealth bill in 1 9 o° and, as Attorney-General, he was included in Sir Edmund Barton's first Federal " Cabinet of the Captains " (1901-3), succeeding him as Premier of Australia. During his legislative career in Victoria he was active in promoting social legislation and an ardent advocate of preference in favour of Great Britain. This fiscal policy he pursued during his three Federal premierships (1903-4, 1905-8, 1909-10), and he was also a strong supporter of Australia's cooperation in Imperial defence, being responsible for the acceptance of the measure authorizing Australian naval construction in 1909 and for the invitation to Lord Kitchener to come to Australia to report on the question of defence. He also passed that year an Act enforcing military training upon all able-bodied citizens. He was the leading figure at the Imperial Conference in London of 1907. After 1910 he led. the Opposition in the Australian Parliament until ill-health compelled his retirement in 1913. He always refused any titular distinction; but he was credited by many. with being the most brilliant orator of the British Empire, and the enthusiasm which he evoked in London was great. He represented " Centre " thought in Australian politics and for a long time was a reconciling influence between the Conservatives and the Labour party. He died Oct. 7 1919.

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