Andrew Fisher

Andrew Fisher (1862-1928) served as prime minister in 1908-09, 1919-13, and 1914-15. He was one of the founders of the Labor Party in Australia. He rose to office from great poverty, beginning work in a Scottish coal pit at the age of 10.

Fisher emigrated to Australia in 1885, and won the Queensland seat of Wide Bay at the first federal election, after a brief career in the Queensland Parliament. The government he formed in 1910 was the first federal government with a stable majority. It established the Commonwealth Bank, laid the foundations of the navy, introduced maternity allowances and invalid pensions. He resigned the prime ministership in 1915, worn out by wartime responsibility, tension within his party over the war, and the exclusion of Australia from policy-making on the war. It was Fisher who pledged Australia’s ‘last man and last shilling’ to the cause of Empire loyalty at the outbreak of the First World War, winning the 1914 election with his promise.

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Events

13 November 1908

Andrew Fisher becomes Prime Minister

Labour Party leader Andrew Fisher becomes Prime Minister when the Deakin government falls after Labour withdraws its support. Fisher’s first government establishes the Canberra region as the site for Australia’s new capital city. For more information, visit the Australian Prime Ministers Centre.

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Andrew Fisher c.1908.
29 April 1910

Andrew Fisher becomes Prime Minister for the second time

At the 1910 federal election, Fisher’s Labour Party wins a convincing majority of seats in the House of Representatives and Fisher becomes Prime Minister leading Australia’s first-ever majority government. Labour gains seventeen additional seats to hold a total of forty-three of the seventy-five House of Representative seats, and all eighteen Senate seats up for election to hold a total of twenty-two out of thirty-six seats. In addition to being Australia’s majority government, the election results in Australia’s first Senate majority and the world’s first Labour Party majority government. During Fisher’s second term, the Royal Australian Navy is established, the first Commonwealth bank notes are printed, the size of the High Court Bench is again increased (to seven judges), and the nation’s new capital, Canberra, is formally proclaimed by the Governor-General. The Party changes the spelling of its name to ‘Labor’ in 1912. For more information, visit the Australian Prime Ministers Centre.

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Andrew Fisher c.1908.
17 September 1914

Andrew Fisher becomes Prime Minister for the third time

In Australia’s first double dissolution election, Andrew Fisher and the re-christened Australian Labor Party are returned to power, ousting the Cook government. Fisher is Prime Minister during the now-legendary Anzac landing at Gallipoli. For more information, visit the Australian Prime Ministers Centre.

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Andrew Fisher c.1908.