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 William Austin Zeal

Sir William Austin Zeal (1830-1912)

Senator for Victoria 1901-1906

William Zeal was born in Westbury, Wiltshire, England and migrated to Melbourne, Victoria in 1852. A certified surveyor and engineer, Zeal spent two years on the Castlemaine goldfields and in 1856 became a government surveyor and railway engineer. Zeal was an active member of the Victorian Legislative Assembly and Council intermittently from 1864 until 1901, and was President of the Legislative Council 1892-1901. He was knighted in 1895. Zeal was elected as a Victorian delegate to the Australasian Federal Convention of 1897-98.

In 1901 Zeal, a Protectionist, was elected to represent Victoria in the Senate at the first federal election. Disappointed at not being chosen as President of the Senate, he never felt at home in Federal Parliament. He retired from politics in 1906.

Zeal was a successful businessman, who invested wisely in many mining ventures and financial institutions, which made him a wealthy man. A bachelor, he was 70 years old at the time of his election to the Senate.

previous | list of members