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 Cash Neild

John Cash Neild (1846-1911)

Senator for New South Wales 1901-1910

Born in Bristol, England, John Cash Neild migrated with his family to New Zealand in 1853 and to Sydney, New South Wales in 1860. Neild, an insurance agent, entered local politics in 1876 and was Mayor of Woollahra 1888-89. He became a member of the New South Wales Legislative Assembly in 1885. In 1896 he raised a volunteer regiment, St George’s English Rifles. The Rifles were destined for disaster and nearly ended in mutiny as a result of Neild’s lack of military experience and leadership skills.

In 1901 Neild, a Freetrader, was elected to represent New South Wales in the Senate at the first federal election. At the opening of Federal Parliament in Melbourne in May 1901 Neild wore a scarlet military uniform. Often eccentric, always individual and refusing to accept any form of party discipline, Neild harangued the chamber on “every conceivable subject”. In 1904 he was the subject of a Senate inquiry into his claim that the military had tried to curtail his right of freedom of speech in the Parliament. He was re-elected to the Senate at the top of the poll in 1903, but was defeated in the election of 1910.

In 1906 Neild retired from the militia and was appointed honorary colonel. He is perhaps best remembered for his zealous commitment to his militia regiment and his unwavering support of everything British.

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