Alexander Paterson (Australian politician)

Alexander Paterson (24 January 1844 – 23 March 1908) was an independent member of the Australian House of Representatives, representing the Division of Capricornia, Queensland.

Alexander Paterson
Alexander Paterson.jpg
Member of the Australian Parliament
for Capricornia
In office
30 March 1901 – 23 November 1903
Preceded byNew seat
Succeeded byDavid Thomson
Personal details
Born(1844-01-24)24 January 1844
Greenock, Scotland
Died23 March 1908(1908-03-23) (aged 64)
NationalityScottish Australian
Political partyIndependent
OccupationShipping manager

Born in Greenock, Scotland, Paterson worked as a shipping manager before migrating to Australia in 1875. In Australia, Paterson was involved in business ventures in Melbourne and Queensland, gaining enough stature in Queensland to be elected to the inaugural Australian parliament.

Paterson contested the seat of Capricornia in the 1901 Federal election, winning by a margin of 139 votes over the ALP candidate Wallace Nelson.[1]

On 15 June 1901, during the first parliament of the Commonwealth, the Immigration Restriction Bill 1901 was introduced, defined as A Bill for an Act to place certain restrictions on Immigration and to provide for the removal from the Commonwealth of Prohibited Immigrants.

The wording of the bill also listed in its definitions that restrictions "means any person who is unable to write out 50 words in a European language dictated by an officer".

Paterson spoke in favour of the bill, and in particular of the 'Chinese problem'. The bill was subsequently passed, and set in motion what is popularly known as the White Australia policy, which survived until late in the 20th century.

Alexander Paterson did not contest the subsequent election, and retired from politics.


  1. ^ "Capricornia Returns Complete: Mr Paterson's Majority 139". Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton, Qld. : 1878 - 1954): 5. 12 April 1901.
Parliament of Australia
New division Member for Capricornia
Succeeded by
David Thomson