George Reid

Born in Scotland, Reid came to Australia at the age of seven. Caught up in his early teens in the public debates over manhood suffrage, he joined the Sydney Mechanics' School of Arts Debating Society at fifteen. By 1879 he was in Parliament as a Free Trader.

He was known as ‘Yes-No Reid’ after he attacked the draft federal Constitution - but supported Federation in 1898. This ambivalence soured his relationship with many Federationists, but resulted in a more democratic Constitution, and in effect brought New South Wales into the Commonwealth.

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Learn more on George Reid at ADB Online and the National Archives Online.


18 August 1904

George Reid becomes Prime Minister

George Reid, Leader of the Opposition, becomes Prime Minister after the Watson Labour government falls due to the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill (ironically, the same Bill’s defeat months earlier had brought Watson to power). Reid’s government finally passes the legislation. For more information, visit the Australian Prime Ministers Centre.


George Reid c.1904.