14 Facts About Barton Government


Background to the Barton Government saw the six British colonies of Australia vote to federate as one Commonwealth.

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Shortly before his death in 1896, Parkes called on Edmund Barton Government to take up the struggle of leading the push for Federation.

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Edmund Barton Government became the newly Federated Australian nation's first Prime Minister at a grand ceremony in Centennial Park, Sydney, on 1 January 1901.

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Barton Government was sworn in as Prime Minister and Minister for External Affairs and his Cabinet consisted of a number of ex-premiers: Sir George Turner of Victoria was Treasurer, Charles Kingston of South Australia was Minister for Trade and Customs, Sir John Forrest of Western Australia was Postmaster-General, Sir James Dickson of Queensland was Minister for Defence, and Sir William Lyne was Minister for Home Affairs.

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Barton Government appointed two other honorary Cabinet positions: Richard O'Connor of New South Wales, to serve as Vice-President of the Executive Council, and Elliott Lewis, the Premier of Tasmania.

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Barton Government travelled to Britain for the Coronation of King Edward VII and the Colonial Conference of 1902 where he came up against the push for "free trade within the Empire".

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Britain sought further forces from the new Commonwealth, and Barton Government secured the agreement of the new Parliament, though Australian Federal forces did not reach South Africa until the final stages of that war.

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Barton Government was an Imperial loyalist, and represented Australia at the 1902 Coronation of Edward VII.

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Barton Government secured support for an expanded British naval squadron at Sydney which would assist with training a local force and lobbied fort preferential treatment for Australian trade within the British Empire.

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Barton Government received congratulations from the Pope on the tolerance shown to Catholics within Australia, and Barton Government in return offered assurances that this would continue.

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Towards the end of his term in office, Britain and Japan concluded the Anglo–Japanese naval agreement, for which Barton Government managed to secure the approval of the Australian Parliament and the gratitude of Japan in the form of the Order of the Rising Sun First Class.

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Barton Government's health declined and in August 1903, he collapsed in his room at Parliament and resigned the following month to take up a position with the newly established High Court of Australia.

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Barton Government was succeeded as Prime Minister by his friend, colleague and co-campaigner in the cause of Federation, Alfred Deakin, who became Minister for External Affairs in a Cabinet which remained largely unchanged.

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On 24 September 1903, Barton Government resigned as Prime Minister, to accept appointment to new Court, together with Cabinet colleague Richard O'Connor.

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