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

John Henry Keating

John Henry Keating (1872-1940)

Senator for Tasmania 1901-1923

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Born in Hobart, Tasmania, John Keating was admitted to the Bar in 1894 and became known as a brilliant advocate. At 28, he was the youngest member to be elected to the first Commonwealth Parliament. A strong supporter of federation, he campaigned enthusiastically for a “yes” vote in the 1898 and 1899 referendums. He was a great admirer and supporter of Edmund Barton and Richard O’Connor.

In 1901 Keating topped the poll to represent Tasmania in the Senate at the first federal election. As Government Whip in the first Senate, he was closely involved in the coordination of Protectionist senators, and the government program in the Senate. He was a minister in the Deakin ministry, Vice-President of the Executive Council in 1906, and Minister for Home Affairs 1907-08. An active supporter of Australia’s involvement in World War I, Keating visited England and the Western Front in 1916. Defeated in the election of 1922, Keating left the Senate in 1923 and returned to legal practice. He continued to be involved with Federal Parliament as an adviser and counsel.

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