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

Henry Dobson

Henry Dobson (1841-1918)

Senator for Tasmania 1901-1910

Henry Dobson was born in Hobart, Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania). He was called to the Tasmanian Bar in 1864 and became one of the colony’s most respected lawyers. He was the member for Brighton in the Tasmanian House of Assembly 1891-1900, serving as Leader of the Opposition 1891-92 and Premier 1892-94. A strong supporter of federation, Dobson was a member of the Federal Council of Australasia from 1893 and represented Tasmania at the 1897-98 Australasian Federal Convention.

Dobson was elected as a Freetrader to represent Tasmania in the Senate at the first federal election in 1901. He was Temporary Chairman of Committees 1904-08 and Chairman of Committees 1908-09. He was responsible for the introduction of the first private member’s bill, the Matrimonial Causes Bill, in July 1901. The Bill lapsed at the end of the parliamentary session in 1902 and was not considered further. Dobson was defeated at the election of 1910 and retired from politics.

Dobson is remembered in Tasmania for his involvement in making attendance at school five days a week compulsory and for sponsoring the introduction of kindergartens. He was well liked by his peers and community and worked hard to promote tourism in Tasmania in the early 1900s.

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