Commonwealth of Australia Coat of Arms
For Peace, Order and Good Government: The first Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia
Early proposals
Six colonies
Drafting a constitution
Declaration of the Commonwealth
Conducting the first Federal election
Who could vote?
The election campaign
9 May 1901
The royal visit
The first federal parliamentarians
Ministry of May, 1901
Edmund Barton
Political parties
Legislative program
Relationship between the houses

Members of the First Parliament

Robert Wallace Best

Robert Wallace Best (1856-1946)

Senator for Victoria 1901-1910
Member of the House of Representatives for Kooyong (Victoria), 1910-1922

Robert Best was born in Collingwood, Melbourne, Victoria. He practised as a lawyer, was Mayor of Fitzroy City Council 1888-89 and the member for Fitzroy in the Victorian Legislative Assembly 1889-1901.

Best, a Protectionist, was elected to represent Victoria in the Senate at the first federal elections in 1901. The Senate elected Best as its first Chairman of Committees in 1901. He was included in Deakin’s Protectionist ministry as Vice-President of the Executive Council in 1907-08, when he was also Leader of the Government in the Senate. He was Minister for Trade and Customs in the Fusion Government during 1909-10. He was defeated at the 1910 elections but later that year was elected as the member for Kooyong in the House of Representatives at a by-election, serving his electorate until 1922.

Best was knighted in 1908 and continued to practise as a lawyer throughout his political career.

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