Andrew Fisher was an Australian politician who served as the fifth prime minister of Australia, from 1908 to 1909,1910 to 1913, and 1914 to 1915, holding office as the leader of the Australian Labor Party.
88 Facts About Andrew Fisher
In 1910 Fisher led Labor to its first federal election victory and first majority government.
Andrew Fisher left school at a young age to work in the nearby coal mines, becoming secretary of the local branch of the Ayrshire Miners' Union at the age of 17.
Andrew Fisher immigrated to Australia in 1885, where he continued his involvement with trade unionism.
Andrew Fisher settled in Gympie, Queensland, and in 1893 was elected to the Queensland Legislative Assembly as a representative of the Labor Party.
Andrew Fisher lost his seat in 1896, but returned in 1899 and later that year briefly was a minister in the government of Anderson Dawson.
In 1901, Andrew Fisher was elected to the new federal parliament representing the Division of Wide Bay.
Andrew Fisher was the Minister for Trade and Customs for a few months in 1904, in the short-lived government of Chris Watson.
Andrew Fisher was elected deputy leader of the ALP in 1905 and replaced Watson as leader in 1907.
Andrew Fisher initially provided support to the minority government of Protectionist leader Alfred Deakin, but in November 1908 the ALP withdrew its support and Deakin resigned as prime minister.
Andrew Fisher returned as prime minister after the 1910 Australian federal election, which saw Labor attain majority government for the first time in its history.
However, at the 1913 election the ALP narrowly lost its House of Representatives majority to the Liberal Party, with Andrew Fisher being replaced as prime minister by Joseph Cook.
Labor won back its majority in the House, and Andrew Fisher returned for a third term as prime minister.
Andrew Fisher subsequently accepted an appointment as the High Commissioner of Australia to the United Kingdom, holding the position from 1916 to 1920.
Andrew Fisher was born on 29 August 1862 in Crosshouse, a mining village 2 miles west of Kilmarnock, Scotland.
Andrew Fisher was the second of eight children born to Jane and Robert Fisher; he had one older brother, four younger brothers, and two younger sisters.
Andrew Fisher's mother was the daughter of a blacksmith and worked as a domestic servant.
Andrew Fisher was the leader of a temperance society, and in 1863 was one of ten miners who co-founded a cooperative society.
Andrew Fisher spent most of his childhood living in a miners' row, which had an earthen floor and no running water.
Andrew Fisher was kicked in the head by a cow as a small child, leaving him mostly deaf in one ear.
Andrew Fisher was athletic, helping form a local football team, and stood 178 centimetres as an adult, above the average at the time.
In later life, Andrew Fisher recalled attending four schools as a boy.
Andrew Fisher later supplemented his limited formal education by attending night school in Kilmarnock and reading at the town library.
The exact age at which Andrew Fisher left school is uncertain, but he could have been as young as nine or as old as thirteen.
Andrew Fisher is believed to have begun his working life as a coal trapper, opening and closing the trapdoors that allowed for ventilation and the movement of coal.
Andrew Fisher was later placed in charge of the pit ponies, and finally took his place performing "pick-and-shovel work" at the coalface.
Andrew Fisher's father had black lung disease, and gave up mining around the same time as his oldest sons began working.
Andrew Fisher subsequently became the manager of the foodstore at the local cooperative, and the family moved out of miners' row.
Andrew Fisher died of lung disease in 1887, aged 53.
In 1879, aged 17, Andrew Fisher was elected secretary of the Crosshouse branch of the Ayrshire Miners' Union.
Andrew Fisher soon came into contact with Keir Hardie, a leading figure in the union and a future leader of the British Labour Party.
Andrew Fisher had originally been opposed to the strike, and unsuccessfully attempted to negotiate a compromise with mine-owners.
Andrew Fisher lost his job, but soon found work at a different mine.
Andrew Fisher subsequently wrote a letter to Gladstone and received a reply thanking him for his support.
Andrew Fisher was left with little future in Scotland and decided to emigrate; his older brother John had already left for England a few years earlier, becoming a police constable in Liverpool.
Andrew Fisher first saw Australia during a stopover at Thursday Island, where whites were a minority and there was a large Japanese population.
Unlike Hughes, Andrew Fisher never lost his original accent and retained a thick Scottish "brogue" for the rest of his life.
Andrew Fisher began as an ordinary miner and joined the local miners' union, but after successfully sinking a new shaft at Torbanlea, he was employed as a mine manager.
Andrew Fisher moved to the larger gold-mining town of Gympie in 1888, initially working in the No 1 North Phoenix mine and then in the South Great Eastern Extended.
Andrew Fisher continued his involvement in unionism, helping form the Gympie branch of the Amalgamated Miners' Association and serving terms as secretary and president.
Andrew Fisher obtained an engine-driver's certificate in 1891, and was elected president of the related craft union.
Andrew Fisher was a founding member of the Gympie cooperative, and in 1891 became the secretary of the Gympie Joint Labour Committee, the local labour council.
Andrew Fisher helped establish a branch of the Workers' Political Association, the forerunner of the Labor Party, and was the inaugural branch president with George Ryland as secretary.
Andrew Fisher was sacked from his engine-driving job in the same year, and subsequently devoted his full attention to politics.
In 1891, Andrew Fisher was elected as the first president of the Gympie branch of the Labour Party.
Andrew Fisher was active in the Amalgamated Miners Union, becoming President of the Gympie branch by 1891.
Andrew Fisher lost his seat in 1896 following a campaign in which he was charged by his opponent Jacob Stumm with being a dangerous revolutionary and an anti-Catholic, accusations that were propagated by the newspaper Gympie Times.
However Andrew Fisher was a firm believer in federation, supporting the union of the Australian colonies and campaigned for the 'Yes' vote in Queensland's 1899 referendum.
Andrew Fisher stood for the Division of Wide Bay at the inaugural 1901 Australian federal election and won the seat, which he held continuously for the rest of his political career.
Andrew Fisher supported the White Australia policy but argued that any Kanaka who had converted to Christianity and married should be allowed to remain in Australia.
Andrew Fisher established and demonstrated his ministerial capabilities as Minister for Trade and Customs in the Watson Ministry.
The fourth Labour member in the ministry after Watson, Hughes, and Lee Batchelor, Andrew Fisher was promoted to Deputy Leader of the Labour Party in 1905.
When Watson resigned in 1907, Andrew Fisher succeeded him as Labour leader, although Hughes and William Spence stood for the position.
Andrew Fisher was considered to have a better understanding of economic matters, was better at handling caucus, had better relations with the party organisation and the unions, and was more in touch with party opinion.
Andrew Fisher did not share Hughes' passion for free trade or that of Watson and Hughes for defence.
At the 1908 Labour Federal Conference, Andrew Fisher argued for female representation in parliament:.
Andrew Fisher formed his only minority government and the First Andrew Fisher Ministry.
Andrew Fisher committed Labour to amending the Constitution to give the Commonwealth power over labour, wages and prices, to expanding the navy and providing compulsory military training for youths, to extending pensions, to a land tax, to the construction of a transcontinental railway, to the replacement of pound sterling with Australian currency and to tariffs to protect the sugar industry.
The 113 acts passed in the three years of the second Andrew Fisher government exceeded even the output of the second Deakin government over a similar period.
The Andrew Fisher government carried out many reforms in defence, finance, transport and communications, and social security, achieving the vast majority of their aims in just three years of government.
Andrew Fisher wanted additional Commonwealth power in certain areas, such as the nationalisation of monopolies.
The Andrew Fisher government made another attempt, holding a referendum in 1913 which asked for greater federal powers over trade and commerce, corporations, industrial matters, trusts, monopolies, and railway disputes.
Andrew Fisher campaigned on Labor's record of support for an independent Australian defence force, and pledged that Australia would "stand beside the mother country to help and defend her to the last man and the last shilling".
Labor won the election with another absolute majority in both houses and Andrew Fisher formed his third government on 17 September 1914.
Andrew Fisher visited New Zealand during this time which saw Billy Hughes serve as acting Prime Minister for two months.
Andrew Fisher described the Dardanelles Expedition as being "a series of disastrous underestimations" and "one of the most terrible chapters in our history" concluding:.
Andrew Fisher passed this report on to Hughes and to Defence Minister George Pearce, ultimately leading to the evacuation of the Australian troops in December 1915.
The report was used by the Dardanelles Commission on which Andrew Fisher served, while High Commissioner in London.
Andrew Fisher resigned as Prime Minister and from Parliament on 27 October 1915 after being absent from parliament without explanation for three sitting days.
Andrew Fisher was Australia's second High Commissioner to the United Kingdom from 1 January 1916 until 1 January 1921.
Andrew Fisher opposed conscription which made his dealings with Billy Hughes difficult.
Andrew Fisher visited Australian troops serving in Belgium and France in 1919, and later presented Pearce with an album of battlefield photos from 1917 and 1918, showing the horrendous conditions experienced by the troops.
The Dardanelles Commission, including Andrew Fisher, interviewed witnesses in 1916 and 1917 and issued its final report in 1919.
Andrew Fisher arrived back in Melbourne with no firm plans for his future, but the rapturous receptions he received at labour movement gatherings led him to contemplate a return to active politics.
Andrew Fisher was the only remaining former prime minister in the Labor Party, which had lost many experienced MPs in the 1916 party split.
Andrew Fisher seriously considered standing in the resulting by-election, but found there was no guarantee that the local party would accept him as a candidate.
Andrew Fisher was unwilling to actively campaign for preselection, and decided he would only stand if he were drafted; this did not eventuate.
Andrew Fisher explored the possibility of standing for the British House of Commons, but eventually opted for a permanent retirement from politics.
Andrew Fisher contracted a severe case of influenza in September 1928, and eventually died from complications of the disease on 22 October, aged 66.
Andrew Fisher is one of only three Australian prime ministers to die overseas, and he and George Reid are the only ones who both began and ended their lives outside Australia.
Andrew Fisher was buried at Hampstead Cemetery on 26 October 1928.
The first complete biographies of Andrew Fisher did not emerge until the 100th anniversary of his prime ministership.
Obituarists of Andrew Fisher generally emphasised his modesty, integrity, and dedication to the labour movement.
Andrew Fisher was praised for successfully managing the conflicting personalities within his own party, but as a leader of his country was often compared unfavourably with Deakin and Hughes.
However, beginning in the 1970s a different view of Andrew Fisher began to emerge, which coincided with more of his personal papers becoming available to researchers.
Andrew Fisher is generally seen as one of the most significant figures in the early years of his party.
In 1911 Andrew Fisher declined the offer of honorary degrees from the universities of Oxford, Cambridge, Glasgow and Birmingham, although he did accept the Freedom of the City from the cities of Glasgow, Edinburgh and Bristol.
In 2008, Labor Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, a fellow Queenslander, launched a biography titled Andrew Fisher, written by David Day.