Arthur Robinson (Australian politician)

Sir Arthur Robinson KCMG (23 April 1872 – 17 May 1945) was an Australian politician, at different times a member of the upper and lower houses of the Victorian parliament and a federal MP.

Sir Arthur Robinson

Arthur Robinson 1900s.png
Member of the Australian Parliament
for Wannon
In office
16 December 1903 – 12 December 1906
Preceded bySamuel Cooke
Succeeded byJohn McDougall
Personal details
Born(1872-04-23)23 April 1872
Carlton, Victoria
Died17 May 1945(1945-05-17) (aged 73)
East Melbourne, Victoria
Political partyFree Trade Party
Spouse(s)Annie Summers Puckle
RelationsEdmund Barton (uncle)
William Barton (grandfather)
Alma materUniversity of Melbourne

Early lifeEdit

Robinson was born at Carlton, Victoria, the son of journalist Anthony Bennett Robinson and Harriet, née Barton, the sister of Sir Edmund Barton. He attended Scotch College (where he was later Chairman of the School Council) before studying law at the University of Melbourne. He became a barrister and solicitor in 1896, partnering William Bruce in the firm that was to become Arthur Robinson & Co. (a forerunner of modern firm Allens). Robinson became known as a free trader and a conservative (in contrast to his uncle Edmund Barton), but he was also an ardent federalist. On 18 April 1899 he married Annie Summers Puckle at Malvern.[1]


Robinson was elected to the Victorian Legislative Assembly in 1900 for the seat of Dundas, but was defeated in 1902. Subsequently, he entered the Australian House of Representatives as the Free Trade member for Wannon in 1903, succeeding Samuel Cooke. He was defeated in 1906 by Labour, which ran a successful campaign focussing on his opposition to aspects relating to unionism in the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. Returning to state politics, he was elected to the Victorian Legislative Council for Melbourne South Province in 1912 and held his seat until his retirement in 1925, holding ministerial positions in the governments of Sir Alexander Peacock and Sir Harry Lawson, including as Solicitor-General (21 March 1918 – 20 January 1920),[2] Attorney-General (21 October 1919 – 10 July 1924) and a concurrent appointment as Solicitor-General (20 September 1920 – 11 July 1924).[3][4]

Robinson was significantly involved in the State Electricity Commission, supporting Sir John Monash in its establishment. His experiences in state parliament also changed his enthusiasm for federalism into opposition to federal powers. He was also appointed a CMG in 1921 and a KCMG in 1923.[1]

Following his retirement in 1925, Robinson attempted to re-enter the federal House of Representatives as the Nationalist candidate for Fawkner, but was defeated by his friend George Maxwell, who was elected as an independent. He was condemned by The Age as a "crusted Tory" and a "relic of a bygone age".[1]

Later lifeEdit

Robinson's wife Annie died in 1937, and he remarried on 20 February 1939 at Scotch College to Beverley Nelson Wood. He continued to be active in community until his death on 17 May 1945 at East Melbourne, survived by his wife, a son and daughter of his first marriage, and a son of his second.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d Foster, Leonie (1988). "Robinson, Sir Arthur (1872–1945)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Melbourne University Press. ISSN 1833-7538. Retrieved 16 March 2008 – via National Centre of Biography, Australian National University.
  2. ^ "Appointments Ministers of the Crown Solicitor-General Arthur Robinson". Victorian Government Gazette. 21 March 1918. p. 1918:1217.
  3. ^ "Ministers of the Crown Appointment Solicitor-General Arthur Robinson". Victorian Government Gazette. 20 September 1920. p. 1920:2951.
  4. ^ "Arthur Robinson". re-member: a database of all Victorian MPs since 1851. Parliament of Victoria. Retrieved 12 February 2019.


Parliament of Australia
Preceded by
Samuel Cooke
Member for Wannon
Succeeded by
John McDougall
Victorian Legislative Assembly
Preceded by
John Thomson
Member for Dundas
Succeeded by
John Thomson
Victorian Legislative Council
Preceded by
Henry Skinner
Member for Melbourne South
Served alongside: Thomas Payne
Succeeded by
Frank Clarke
Political offices
Preceded by
Harry Lawson
as Attorney-General
Attorney-General of Victoria
Solicitor-General of Victoria

Mar 1918 – Jan 1920 & Sep 1920 – Jul 1924
With: Harry Lawson as Solicitor-General
Jan – Sep 1920 
Succeeded by
Henry Cohen
Preceded by
Agar Wynne
as Solicitor-General