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William Lyne

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William Lyne

The Honourable
Sir William Lyne
KCMG
13th Premier of New South Wales
In office
14 September 1899 – 27 March 1901
Preceded by George Reid
Succeeded by John See
Member of the Australian Parliament
for Hume
In office
29 March 1901 – 31 May 1913
Preceded by New division
Succeeded by Robert Patten
Personal details
Born (1844-04-06)6 April 1844
Apslawn, Colony of Tasmania
Died 3 August 1913(1913-08-03) (aged 69)
Double Bay, New South Wales, Australia
Nationality British subject
Political party Protectionist (1901–09)
Independent (1909–13)
Occupation Clerk, landowner

Sir William John Lyne KCMG (6 April 1844 – 3 August 1913), Australian politician, was Premier of New South Wales and a member of the first federal ministry. As premier, Lyne presided over the passage of progressive legislation for miners’ accident relief, shearers’ accommodation, and aged pensions, together with the introduction of the early closing of shops.[1]

Contents

  • Early life 1
  • State politics 2
  • Federal politics 3
  • Fusion Government 4
  • Assessment 5
  • Honours 6
  • See also 7
  • References 8

Early life

Lyne was born at Albury, New South Wales.[3]

State politics

Lyne was the member for railway expansion and pressed on with the building of the Culcairn to Corowa line in his own electorate.[5]

The John Cash Neild with a preparation of a report upon old age pensions, and he had promised the leader of the Labor Party that he would give Neild no payment for this without the sanction of Parliament. Finding that the work was much greater than he expected, Neild had asked for and obtained an advance in anticipation of a vote. Lyne, by a clever amendment of a vote of want of confidence, made it practically impossible for the Labor party to support Reid, thus aligning the Labor Party who held the balance of power against Reid. Lyne became Premier by agreeing to reforms proposed by the Labor Party.[3][6] Lyne promised the Labor Party specific reforms and he passed 85 Acts between July and December 1900, including early closing of retail shops, coal mines regulation and miners' accident relief, old-age pensions and graduated death duties.[5]

Lyne was a consistent opponent of the Federation of Australia until the establishment of the Commonwealth in 1901. He was one of the representatives of New South Wales at the 1897 convention and sat on the finance committee but did not have an important influence on the debates. When the campaign began before the referendum of 1898, Lyne declared himself against the bill, and, at the second referendum, held in 1899 he was the only New South Wales convention representative who was still dissatisfied with the amended bill. Reid, after some vacillation had, however, declared himself whole-heartedly on the side of federation, and the referendum showed a substantial majority on the "Yes" side.[3]

Federal politics

As Premier of the largest colony, Lyne considered himself entitled to be the first Prime Minister of Australia when the colonies federated in January 1901. In December 1900 the Governor-General, Lord Hopetoun, offered the post to Lyne; but because Lyne had opposed federation, most senior politicians, notably Alfred Deakin, told Hopetoun that they would not serve under Lyne. Hopetoun was forced to accept the majority view that Edmund Barton, the leader of the federation movement, should be Prime Minister.

Lyne became Minister for Home Affairs in Barton's cabinet on 1 January 1901 and was elected to the first federal Parliament as member for the Division of Hume in March 1901. He was responsible for the Commonwealth Franchise Act 1902 (preceded the Commonwealth Electoral Act), including the introduction of women's suffrage and the establishment of the Commonwealth Public Service.[5] He remained Minister for Home Affairs until Charles Kingston left the cabinet, and became Minister for Trade and Customs in his stead on 7 August 1903. He retained this position when Deakin became Prime Minister towards the end of September. The general election held in December 1903 resulted in the return of three nearly equal parties, and Deakin was forced to resign in April 1904 but came back into power in July 1905 with Lyne in his old position.

In April 1907 Lyne accompanied Deakin to the colonial conference and endeavoured to persuade the British politicians that they were foolish in clinging to their policy of free trade. Deakin and Lyne returned to Australia in June, and when Sir John Forrest resigned his position as Treasurer at the end of July 1907, Lyne succeeded him.[3]

Fusion Government

In November 1908, the Labor party withdrew its support from Deakin, and Fisher succeeded him and held office until June 1909 when Deakin and Cook joined forces and formed the so-called "Fusion" government. Lyne accused Deakin of betrayal, and thereafter sat as an independent Protectionist. His bitter denunciations of his one-time friend continued during the 11 months the ministry lasted but Deakin did not respond. The Labor Party came in with a large majority in the April 1910 election and Lyne was elected as a pro-Labor independent. However, Lyne lost his seat in the May 1913 election when the Labor Party lost to the opposition Commonwealth Liberal Party.

Lyne died in the Sydney suburb of Double Bay, a few months afterwards. He was twice married, and was survived by one son and three daughters of the first marriage and by Lady Lyne and her daughter.[3]

Assessment

Lyne was more of a politician than a statesman, always inclined to take a somewhat narrow view of politics. He did some good work when Premier of New South Wales by putting through the Early Closing bill (regulating shopping hours), the Industrial Arbitration bill, and bringing in graduated death duties; but even these measures were part of his bargain with the Labor party.

He was tall and vigorous, in his younger days a typical Australian bushman. He knew everyone in his electorate and was a good friend to all. He was bluff and frank and it was said of him that he was a man whose hand went instinctively into his pocket when any appeal was made to him. In Parliament, he was courageous and a vigorous administrator.

Scarcely an orator, he was a good tactician. Although overshadowed by greater men like Barton, Reid and Deakin, his views had much influence in his time. In his early political life he was a great advocate of irrigation, and in federal politics he had much to do with the shaping of the policy of protection eventually adopted by the Commonwealth.[3]

His reputation has been badly affected by Alfred Deakin's description of him as "a crude, sleek, suspicious, blundering, short-sighted, backblocks politician".[5]

Honours

Lyne was created KCMG in 1900.[3] The Federal electoral Division of Lyne and the Canberra suburb of Lyneham are named after him.

See also

References

  1. ^ Ross McMullin, The Light on the Hill: The Australian Labor Party 1891-1991
  2. ^ "John Lyne". The Parliament of Tasmania from 1856. Parliament of Tasmania. 2005. Retrieved 20 August 2007.  and "Electorate of Apsley – History". Parliament of Tasmania. 2007. Archived from the original on 1 September 2007. Retrieved 20 August 2007. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Serle, Percival. "Lyne, Sir William John (1844–1913)".  
  4. ^ "Sir William John Lyne (1844–1913)". Members of Parliament.  
  5. ^ a b c d  
  6. ^  
Parliament of New South Wales
Preceded by
George Day
Member for Hume
1880–1894
With: Levin/Hayes
Succeeded by
Himself
Preceded by
Himself
James Hayes
Member for Hume
1880–1901
Succeeded by
Gordon McLaurin
Political offices
Preceded by
Henry Badgery
Secretary for Public Works
1885
Succeeded by
Jacob Garrard
Preceded by
Jacob Garrard
Secretary for Public Works
1886 – 1887
Succeeded by
John Sutherland
Preceded by
James Brunker
Secretary for Lands
1889
Succeeded by
James Brunker
Preceded by
James Young
Secretary for Public Works
1891 – 1894
Succeeded by
James Young
Preceded by
George Reid
Premier of New South Wales
1899–1901
Succeeded by
Sir John See
Preceded by
Joseph Carruthers
Colonial Treasurer of New South Wales
1899–1901
Succeeded by
Thomas Waddell
Parliament of Australia
New division Member for Hume
1901–1913
Succeeded by
Robert Patten
Political offices
New title Minister for Home Affairs
1901–1903
Succeeded by
John Forrest
Preceded by
Charles Kingston
Minister for Trade and Customs
1903–1904
Succeeded by
Andrew Fisher
Preceded by
Allan McLean
Minister for Trade and Customs
1905–1907
Succeeded by
Austin Chapman
Preceded by
Sir John Forrest
Treasurer of Australia
1907–1908
Succeeded by
Andrew Fisher
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