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

Frederick William Holder

Frederick William Holder (1850-1909)

Member for South Australia 1901-1903, Wakefield (South Australia) 1903-1909

Frederick Holder was born in Happy Valley, South Australia. Educated by his father and at the Collegiate School of St Peter, Adelaide, Holder became a teacher and taught at a number of schools, becoming headmaster of the Kooringa Public School at Burra Burra, South Australia, in 1875. He later became a store manager, town clerk and first managing editor of the Burra Record. In 1885 he was Mayor of Burra.

In 1887 Holder was elected senior member for Burra in the South Australian House of Assembly and held the seat until 1901. He held a number of senior offices including Premier and Treasurer. In 1897 Holder was elected to represent South Australia at the Australasian Federal Convention of 1897-98 and South Australia’s eventual acceptance of the Constitution Bill can be partly attributed to Holder’s efforts.

In March 1901 Holder was elected to represent South Australia in the House of Representatives. Although excluded from the Barton ministry, Holder was elected Speaker of the House of Representatives at the first meeting of that House in May 1901. Holder won universal respect as a firm and impartial Speaker. He worked closely with Sir Richard Chaffey Baker, the first President of the Senate, in the adaptation of the practices of Westminster and the colonial Parliaments to the needs of the new Commonwealth Parliament. Believing that the Speaker should not be associated with any party, Holder was returned as the member for Wakefield, South Australia in 1903 as an Independent. He was knighted in 1902.

On 23 July 1909, while the House was considering legislation, Holder, who had admitted to being disturbed by the ill feeling between the political parties, was heard to exclaim “Dreadful! Dreadful!”, and fell to the floor. He died later that day from a cerebral haemorrhage without recovering consciousness.

previous | list of members | next