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

George Foster Pearce

George Foster Pearce (1870-1952)

Senator for Western Australia 1901-1938

Born at Mount Barker, South Australia, George Foster Pearce was a carpenter by trade who migrated to the Western Australian goldfields in the 1890s. He became active in union affairs and Labor politics, and was selected to run as a Labor candidate in the first Senate elections in 1901 by the Perth Trades and Labor Council.

One of the youngest senators in the first Parliament, Pearce was to have a distinguished parliamentary career spanning almost 38 years, 25 of which he spent as a government minister. He was Minister for Defence at a time critical to the development of the armed services of Australia and came to be regarded as an elder statesman greatly relied upon by prime ministers such as Hughes, Bruce and Lyons.

Pearce retired from politics following his defeat in the general election of 1937. He was appointed Privy Councillor in 1921, an officer of the French Legion d’honneur in 1924 and was knighted in 1927.

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