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

Austin Chapman

Austin Chapman (1864-1926)

Member for Eden-Monaro (New South Wales) 1901-1926


Austin Chapman was born in Bong Bong, New South Wales, and was involved in auctioneering and the hotel business. He was a member of the New South Wales Legislative Assembly 1894-1901 and was renowned for his hard working efforts in his electorate, and as an enthusiastic supporter of federation.

At the first federal election in 1901 Chapman was elected to represent the federal seat of Eden-Monaro in the House of Representatives. A Protectionist and loyal supporter of the Barton government, Chapman performed the strategically important duties of Government Whip in the first House or Representatives (1901-03). He held ministerial portfolios from 1903 to 1908, and chaired a royal commission which recommended the introduction of old-age and invalid pensions in 1906. Following a stroke in 1909, Chapman sat as a backbencher until 1923, when he again took ministerial office. Chapman took great pride in his part in introducing the penny post into Australia. He was responsible for the introduction of the standard lightweight wheat bag, which became known as the “Chapman Sack”. He died in office in January 1926.

Determined to have the nation’s capital in the Eden-Monaro district, and after initially supporting the sites of Dalgety and Bombala, Chapman was instrumental in securing Canberra as the site of the federal capital. He was knighted in 1924.

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