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

Sir Philip Oakley Fysh

Sir Philip Oakley Fysh (1835-1919)

Member for Tasmania 1901-1903, Denison (Tasmania) 1903-1910


Philip Oakley Fysh was born in Highbury, England, migrated to Melbourne, Victoria, in August 1859 and settled in Tasmania later that year. Fysh, a merchant, had a distinguished career as a colonial parliamentarian. As Premier of Tasmania 1877-78 and 1887-92 he was instrumental in introducing a raft of social and political reforms. A committed federationist, Fysh represented Tasmania at the federal conventions of 1891 and 1897-98, and was a member of the Federal Council of Australasia 1895-97. As Tasmania’s Agent-General in London 1899-1901, he joined Barton, Deakin and Kingston in securing British approval for the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Bill. Fysh was knighted in 1896.

At the first federal election in March 1901 Fysh was elected as a Freetrader to the House of Representatives for Tasmania and was appointed minister without portfolio in the Barton Ministry. He was described as a “fairtrader rather than a freetrader”. In 1903 he was elected to represent the electoral division of Denison and was appointed Postmaster-General. Fysh retired from politics in 1910.

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