Alfred Deakin

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Alfred Deakin

Born: 3rd of August 1856, in Fitzroy (Melbourne, Victoria)Parents: William Deakin of Northamptonshire and Sarah Bill of England Llanarth, Monmouthshire, Wales•British migrants who arrived in Australia during the 1850’s. •Settled in a suburb named Collingwood in 1853. Once settled, William pursued his former occupation of a clerk and shopman•1851: William joined exodus of men to the goldfields of Victoria and assumed a variety of jobs e.g., storekeeping, water-carting and carrying, before becoming a partner in a coaching business and later manager of Cobb & Co. in Victoria.

Alfred Deakin

Early Life


3rd April 1882: Deakin got married to 19-year-old Elizabeth Martha Anne Browne (‘Pattie’), daughter of wealthy Hugh Junor Browne, a prominent spiritualist.Deakin had 3 daughters, named Ivy, Stella and Vera. 1887: lived for a time with Deakin's parents in Llanarth, their house in Walsh Street, South Yarra was completed. For the rest of his active life, Deakin walked, bicycled or took the tram into the city.

Working for the Under- Privileged <----

Early Career

1872: Continued his journey through to the University of Melbourne, to study law. At university ,he was a member of the debating club and other societies including spirituals.1877: Admitted to the job of the barrister but he had difficulties finding briefs.1878: Decided to become a journalist. During 1878 and 1883, wrote regularly for ‘The Age ‘and ‘The Leader’ newspapers. May 1878: introduced to a person called David Syme, leader of ‘The Age’ newspaper group. He helped Alfred Deakin with his editing and became a close friend to him.  David started introducing Deakin to writing political articles. A few years after, his ambition on Victorian politics was aroused by the retirement of a liberal parliamentarian George Higinbotham.

1887 - 1900: Deakin became increasingly involved in the Federation Movement and became Victoria’s most prominent representative in all Federal conferences and conventions held to discuss Federation and to draft the Australian constitution1.1887: Involved in the movement of Federation and became Victoria’s most prominent representative in all of the conferences and conventions held to discuss this issue.2.1890: Participated as a delegate to the Australian federal conference, convened by Sir Henry Parkes who agreed to hold an inter-colonial convention to draft a Federal constitution.3.1891: Leading negotiator at the Federal convention which produced a draft constitution that contained much of the Constitutional Australia as finally enacted in 1900?4.March 1897: Participated again as a delegate to the second Australian federal convention in Adelaide5.1899: Campaigned in Queensland.6.1900: Travelled to London with Edmund Barton and Charles Kingston to oversee the passage of the federation bill and the Australian constitution through the British parliament.7.1 January 1901: Australia was constituted and inaugurated as a Federation.

Building a Nation

Alfred Deakin - Leader of the Federation movement

The Deakin Family

Deakin was always sympathetic towards, under-privileged and was concerned about their welfare. Motivated him to introduce a legislation in support of workers “to curb sweated labour” and improve the condition of workers in factories. 1885-1893: Introduced factory acts, social measure that was inspired by existing legislation in Britain, played a big part towards the benefit of the factory workers. Act provided for regulation and inspection of factories, enforced sanitary regulation, limited hours of work, female and youths and compensated workers for injury [1].


Final DaysJanuary 1913: Retired from Parliamentary life.Despite his memory failing him he was persuaded to:•1914:Chair a Royal commission on Food Supply •1915:Act as president of the Australian Commission at the International Exposition in San Francisco. Death: 7th of October 1919.Caused By: Meningoencephalitis (infection in the brain); at an early age of sixty three.


Among the Federal Constitution of the world you will look in Vain for one as broad in its popular base, as liberal in its working principles, as generous in its aim as his measure…. Let us stand shoulder to shoulder in defence of the enlightened liberalism of the constitution”

•Although federation had been an idea within Australian colonies for 50 years, it was Deakin’s skills and knowledge relating to law, history, oration and negotiation which was instrumental in the success of the Federal movement, •A proud, native Australian, who felt the need for a collective voice to deal with the British Government. At the 1887 colonial conference, Deakin delivered a memorable speech, where he spoke out against the colonial officers and British policy in the Pacific•He defined himself as an “Imperial Australian Briton” favouring self governing Australia but loyal to the British Empire. •Played a key role in drafting the constitution, encouraged Australia to vote for the constitution and finally travelled to London to ensure its passage through the British Parliament•Without Alfred Deakin, Federation Movement would not be a reality today!

First Government (1903-1904):•In his first being Prime minister he didn't pass any legislation. •His refusal to bring state employees under Federal control brought down his government in 1904.Second Government (1905-1908): The second time of being prime minister was the best period because he passed and established several laws. He gained international reputation for experiments in welfare policies and reforms in working conditions. Some of the laws passed were: •Passed bills to create Australian currency.•1905: Copyright act was passed.•1906: Bureau of census and statistics was established, Australian Industries protection act. Act was to force companies to pay fair wages by setting conditions for tariff protection.•December 1907: First bill was made to establish compulsory military service.•1908: Bureau of meteorology was established, Quarantine act passed, Amended the judiciary act to increase the size of the high court to fiver, Papua act passed. Established an Australian administrator for the former British New guinea.•Invited Theodore Roosevelt’s great white fleet to visit Australia, in a symbolic act of independence from Britain.

Australia's second prime minister

1864: Started school at the Melbourne Church of England Grammar School. Alfred did not excel at games. Later he looked back upon his schooldays as a time of wasted opportunities. During his school life he won a few subject prizes and survived happily enough to the upper school where he came under the influence of the school's renowned headmaster, Dr John Bromby, whose style of oratory, which Deakin's own later closely resembled, fascinated him. At last he was inspired to work seriously.

Deakin was a clever a boy and developedalove for reading at a very young age1871: Matriculated (enrolled) into a university,passing in English and Latin, as well as in history, algebra and Euclid (geometry).

Sibling: Katie Deakin (born: 1850), who was a close companion of Alfred Deakin

February 1879: With Syme's assistance he became the Liberal candidate for a largely rural electorate West Bourke, which he won narrowly.Roles in the Victorian Government – Minister for Public Works and Water Supply, Chief Secretary and Solicitor General and he led the Liberal Party from 1886.

Third Government: (1909 - 1910) Deakin - Forced to become the head of a fusion government of Labour, Protectionist and Free Traders as he was deemed as the only acceptable candidate. Parliamentary debates during this time was characterised by aggression and arguments. -1909: Established the financial agreement, which gave the state’s annual grant of 25 shillings ($ 2.50) per person, which was the basis of commonwealth state agreement until 1927.This government was doomed to fail and an election was held again on 13th April 1910. Alfred Deakin lost to the Labour leader, Andrew Fisher


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