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Andrew Dawson (16 July 1863 – 20 July 1910), usually known as Anderson Dawson, was an Australian politician, the Premier of Queensland for one week (1–7 December) in 1899. This premiership was not only the first Australian Labor Party government; it was the first parliamentary socialist government anywhere in the world, and it attracted international newspaper coverage.[1]

Anderson Dawson
14th Premier of Queensland
In office
1 December 1899 – 7 December 1899
Preceded byJames Dickson
Succeeded byRobert Philp
ConstituencyCharters Towers
Minister for Defence
In office
27 April 1904 – 18 August 1904
Prime MinisterChris Watson
Preceded byAustin Chapman
Succeeded byJames McCay
Australian Senator for Queensland
In office
30 March 1901 – 31 December 1906
Leader of the Opposition of Queensland
In office
12 May 1899 – 1 December 1899
Preceded byThomas Glassey
Succeeded byRobert Philp
In office
7 December 1899 – 16 July 1900
Preceded byRobert Philp
Succeeded byBilly Browne
Member of the Queensland Legislative Assembly
for Charters Towers
In office
13 May 1893 – 11 June 1901
Serving with John Dunsford
Preceded byRobert Sayers
Succeeded byJohn Burrows
Personal details
Born(1863-07-16)16 July 1863
Rockhampton, Queensland
Died20 July 1910(1910-07-20) (aged 47)
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
Resting placeToowong Cemetery
Political partyAustralian Labor Party
Spouse(s)Caroline Ryan née Quin
OccupationUnion organiser, Journalist, Gold miner


Early lifeEdit

Dawson was born on 16 July 1863 at Rockhampton, Queensland, the son of Andrewson Dawson and his wife Jane (née Smith).[2] When he was six his mother died and he was placed in Diamantina orphanage in Brisbane until he was nine, when an uncle took him to Gympie.[3] He began work as a miner at Charters Towers, and later was elected first president of the Miners' Union. He took up journalism and for a time was editor of the local newspaper, The Charters Towers Eagle.[4][5]


Dawson entered politics at the 1893 election, as one of the two Labor candidates for Charters Towers in the Legislative Assembly of Queensland. He won the seat, and retained it at the 1896 and 1899 elections. When the government of James Dickson resigned on 1 December 1899, Dawson formed a ministry. Although it was defeated as soon as the Legislative Assembly next met, it nevertheless became the first socialist or Labour Party government in the world.

At the first Federal election for the Senate in 1901, Dawson was returned at the head of the Queensland Labor ticket. While in federal parliament, he was regarded as a good speaker, but struggled with persistent ill health associated with chronic lung trouble from his time as a miner, which worsened after he relocated his family from Queensland to the colder climate of Melbourne. He also struggled with alcoholism, and was absent from parliament for periods, which frustrated his colleagues.[4][6]:22–24

In April 1904, when Chris Watson formed the first Federal Labor government, Dawson was given the portfolio of Minister for Defence in light of his prominent status as a former Premier.[4][5] As Minister for Defence, he clashed with Edward Hutton, the aristocratic English General Officer Commanding the Australian Military Forces, who had resisted being answerable to the executive, and had been viewed as disrespectful by successive defence ministers. Dawson proposed a military restructure which eliminated Hutton's position, which was adopted by his successor after the ousting of the Watson government, resulting in Hutton's resignation and return to England. Dawson reportedly stated that the "most satisfying facet" of his stint as minister had been that he had "pulled down from his pedestal the biggest bounder that had ever commanded the forces in Australia."[6]:103–109, 138

By the 1906 election, Dawson had a poor relationship with the Queensland state executive of the Labor Party, and was initially demoted to the unwinnable fourth position on the Labor Senate ticket. As a result of concerns about the electoral fallout of his dumping, he was reinstated to the winnable third position on the ticket, but resigned as a candidate two months later, citing ill health. He subsequently changed his mind, but the executive refused to reinstate him, so he ran as an independent. That move split the Labor vote, and amidst a generally bad election for Labor in Queensland, the entire ticket lost.[6]:158

Later lifeEdit

Anderson Dawson's headstone at Brisbane's Toowong Cemetery.

Dawson was unable to find work in Melbourne, and returned to Queensland in 1909, while his wife and four children remained in Melbourne.[6]:158 He was admitted to the Brisbane General Hospital on 6 July 1910 and was expected to recover, but died of the effects of alcoholism on 20 July 1910.[4][7] His widow and children reportedly did not attend his funeral.[6]:165–166 He was buried in Toowong Cemetery on 21 July 1910.[8]


The Federal electoral division of Dawson is named after him.


  1. ^ Blainey, Geoffrey (2000). A shorter history of Australia. Milsons Point, N.S.W.: Vintage. p. 263. ISBN 1-74051-033-X.
  2. ^ Queensland Registrar-General's Index of Births, 1863/C992
  3. ^ Queensland State Archives Item ID268111, Register - admissions No. 510
  4. ^ a b c d Murphy, D. J. (1981). "Dawson, Andrew (1863 - 1910)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Canberra: Australian National University. Retrieved 2007-10-20.
  5. ^ a b Serle, Percival. "Dawson, Anderson (usually known as Anderson Dawson) (1863-1910)". Dictionary of Australian Biography. Project Gutenberg Australia. Retrieved 2007-10-20.
  6. ^ a b c d e McMullin, Ross (2004). So Monstrous a Travesty: Chris Watson and the World's First National Labour Government. Carlton North, Victoria: Scribe Publications. p. 200. ISBN 1920769137.
  7. ^ "The Hon. A. Dawson". Queensland Times (Ipswich) (Qld. : 1909 - 1954). Ipswich (Qld).: National Library of Australia. 21 July 1910. p. 7 Edition: DAILY. Retrieved 3 February 2015.
  8. ^ Dawson, Andrew (Anderson) Archived 1 June 2012 at the Wayback Machine. — Brisbane City Council Grave Location Search

External linksEdit

Political offices
Preceded by
James Dickson
Premier of Queensland
Succeeded by
Robert Philp
Preceded by
Austin Chapman
Minister for Defence In The Australian Parliament
Succeeded by
James Whiteside McCay
Preceded by
Thomas Glassey
Leader of the Opposition in Queensland
Succeeded by
Robert Philp
Preceded by
Robert Philp
Leader of the Opposition in Queensland
1899 - 1900
Succeeded by
Billy Browne
Parliament of Queensland
Preceded by
Robert Sayers
Member for Charters Towers
1893 – 1901
Served alongside: John Dunsford
Succeeded by
John Burrows