Thomas Price (South Australian politician)

Thomas Price (19 January 1852 – 31 May 1909), frequently referred to as Tom Price, served as the South Australian United Labor Party's first Premier of South Australia. He formed a minority government at the 1905 election and was re-elected with increased representation at the 1906 election, serving in the premiership until his death in 1909.[1] It was the world's first stable Labor government. Shortly afterwards, John Verran led Labor to form the state's first of many majority governments at the 1910 election.

Thomas Price
Thomas Price.jpeg
Premier of South Australia
In office
26 July 1905 – 31 May 1909
MonarchEdward VII
GovernorSir George Le Hunte
Sir Day Bosanquet
Preceded byRichard Butler
Succeeded byArchibald Peake
Leader of the Opposition in South Australia
In office
15 July 1904 – 26 July 1905
Preceded byJohn Darling
Succeeded byRichard Butler
Leader of the United Labor Party
In office
12 December 1899 – 31 May 1909
Preceded byLee Batchelor
Succeeded byJohn Verran
Member of the South Australian
House of Assembly
In office
21 April 1887 – 31 May 1909
Preceded byJosiah Symon
Succeeded byGeorge Dankel
ConstituencySturt (1887–1902)
Torrens (1902–1909)
Personal details
Born
Thomas Price

(1852-01-19)19 January 1852
Brymbo, Wales, United Kingdom
Died31 May 1909(1909-05-31) (aged 57)
Mount Lofty, South Australia
Political partyUnited Labor Party

Achievements of the Price government included free state secondary schools, the formation of wages boards and a minimum wage, establishing the Municipal Tramways Trust through nationalisation, the costly administration of the Northern Territory was surrendered to the Federal government, and reform (though limited) of the upper house. The government also attained successive budget surpluses and reduced the accumulated public debt.

Early lifeEdit

Tom Price was born in Brymbo, Denbighshire, Wales in 1852 to John and Jane Price.[2] His family moved to Liverpool in 1853 where Tom grew up.[3] Tom Price emigrated to South Australia with his family in 1883.[4] He was a stonecutter, teacher, lay preacher, businessman, stonemason and clerk-of-works.

ParliamentEdit

 
ULP parliamentarians following the 1893 colonial election.

Price quickly became involved in trade union activity, and was elected to the South Australian House of Assembly for Sturt in April 1893,[5] becoming Labor leader in 1899. He contested the single statewide Division of South Australia at the 1901 federal election as the second of two Labor candidates behind Lee Batchelor. The seat elected seven members, Price finished eighth with a 38.2 percent vote.

World-first stable Labor government 1905−09Edit

 
Price Ministry, c. 1905

Price came to power at the 1905 state election in a minority government, the Price-Peake administration, after increasing his party's representation from five to 15 in the 42-member lower house, with a primary vote of 41.3 percent, an increase of 22.2 percent. With the support of eight liberals headed by Archibald Peake, Price forced conservative Premier Richard Butler to resign. Price retained the premiership at the 1906 double dissolution election with an additional five Labor seats in the House of Assembly, just two short of a parliamentary majority in their own right, with a primary vote of 44.8 percent, an increase of 3.5 percent. It was the world's first stable Labor government, and was so successful that, following the 1910 election, Labor, led by John Verran, formed the first of the state's many majority governments. On Price's death in 1909, Peake formed a minority government until 1910.

Price introduced many reforms, including free state secondary schools, the formation of wages boards, the institution of a minimum wage, and the establishment of the Municipal Tramways Trust through nationalisation. The costly administration of the Northern Territory was surrendered to the Federal government, and there was limited reform of the Legislative Council. Price obtained a double dissolution on the issue of the reform of the upper house. Nevertheless, the Council continued to be intransigent regarding its reform, and Price accepted its compromise proposal of a £17 householder franchise. Labor's left wing criticised him for the concession.

The Price Government enacted a number of laws relating to social matters: the suppression of brothels and gaming, the control and care of drunkards, and the consolidation of legislation on the supply of alcohol and local option in liquor licensing.[6] The government also achieved successive budget surpluses and reduced the accumulated public debt.[7]

LegacyEdit

 
Funeral of Thomas Price

Price suffered from diabetes but died from tuberculosis of the throat[8] at Mount Lofty on 31 May 1909. He was given a State funeral and buried at Mitcham Cemetery.

An island of the Whidby Group off the south-west coast of Eyre Peninsula had been left unnamed after Matthew Flinders' early explorations. It was named Price Island by the Government of South Australia in his honour. A guiding light for mariners was also erected on the island.[9]

Personal LifeEdit

Tom Price married Anne Elizabeth Lloyd (c. 1860 – 1 September 1950) on 14 April 1881 at St David's Welsh Church of England in Liverpool.[10] Their children included:

Other children were Edward Hugh Price (1884–1954), engineer with the Harbors Board, (Thomas) Arthur Price (1888–1942), a railways employee,[12] Annie Mary "Ann" Price (1890–1985), Ada Olive "Olive" Price (1891-1952) married Horace Wicks and Florence Gwendoline "Flo" Price (1894–1957) married Alfred Charles Clarke in 1920.

His widow was in 1915 one of four women appointed a Justice of the Peace,[13] the first in Australia.

Tom Price was an active Methodist and Freemason.[14]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Former Member of Parliament Details". South Australian Government. Retrieved 2 June 2017.
  2. ^ Weekes, Steven. "Price, Thomas (Tom) (1852–1909)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Retrieved 26 November 2019.
  3. ^ Weekes, Steven. "Price, Thomas (Tom) (1852–1909)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Retrieved 26 November 2019.
  4. ^ Weekes, Steven. "Price, Thomas (Tom) (1852–1909)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Retrieved 26 November 2019.
  5. ^ "Statistical Record of the Legislature 1836 to 2009" (PDF). Parliament of South Australia.
  6. ^ Thomas Price: ADB
  7. ^ Archibald Peake: ADB
  8. ^ "Death of the Hon. T. Price". The Border Watch. XLIX (4729). South Australia. 2 June 1909. p. 3. Retrieved 23 July 2019 – via National Library of Australia.
  9. ^ "Islands of the West Coast." The Register, South Australia (1925-09-02). Retrieved 2014-02-16.
  10. ^ Weekes, Steven. "Price, Thomas (Tom) (1852–1909)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Retrieved 26 November 2019.
  11. ^ Weekes, Steven. "Price, Thomas (Tom) (1852–1909)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Retrieved 26 November 2019.
  12. ^ "A Rail Car Mishap". The Advertiser (Adelaide). South Australia. 25 October 1924. p. 13. Retrieved 27 August 2016 – via National Library of Australia.
  13. ^ "Women Justices". The Barrier Miner. XXVIII (8388). New South Wales, Australia. 7 July 1915. p. 4. Retrieved 27 August 2016 – via National Library of Australia.
  14. ^ Weekes, Steven. "Price, Thomas (Tom) (1852–1909)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Retrieved 26 November 2019.

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit

Political offices
Preceded by
John Darling Jr.
Leader of the Opposition of South Australia
1904–1905
Succeeded by
Richard Butler
Preceded by
Richard Butler
Premier of South Australia
1905–1909
Succeeded by
Archibald Peake
Preceded by
Richard Foster
Commissioner of Public Works
1905 – 1909
Succeeded by
Laurence O'Loughlin
Parliament of South Australia
Preceded by
William Stock
Member for Sturt
1893–1902
Served alongside: John Jenkins
District abolished
New district Member for Torrens
1902–1909
Served alongside: John Jenkins
Succeeded by
Thomas Ryan
Party political offices
Preceded by
Lee Batchelor
Leader of the United Labor Party
1899–1909
Succeeded by
John Verran