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

Richard Edwards

Richard Edwards (1842-1915)

Member for Oxley (Queensland) 1901-1913

Richard Edwards was born in Montgomeryshire, Wales, and was the only Welshman elected to the first Federal Parliament. Edwards arrived in Victoria in 1862 and spent a few years on the goldfields before going to New Zealand. In 1867 he returned to Australia, and in 1869 opened a drapery store in Brisbane and established extensive business interests. Edwards was a director and large shareholder of the Telegraph newspaper.

In the first federal election in 1901, Edwards was returned as the member for Oxley, Queensland, in the House of Representatives. Elected as a Protectionist, Edwards had changed his allegiance to Freetrade by the 1903 election. He was subsequently associated with the Anti-Socialist group, and ultimately the Liberal Party.

A committed and consistent opponent of socialism and a strong advocate of the White Australia policy, Edwards retired from public life in 1913.

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