Sir George Foster Pearce KCVO was an Australian politician who served as a Senator for Western Australia from 1901 to 1938.
42 Facts About George Pearce
George Pearce began his career in the Labor Party but later joined the National Labor Party, the Nationalist Party, and the United Australia Party; he served as a cabinet minister under prime ministers from all four parties.
George Pearce left school at the age of 11 and trained as a carpenter, later moving to Western Australia and becoming involved in the union movement.
George Pearce continued on in cabinet when Billy Hughes became prime minister in 1915, and after the Labor Party split of 1916 followed Hughes to the National Labor Party and then to the Nationalists.
George Pearce served in cabinet under Stanley Bruce and, after joining the UAP in 1931, Joseph Lyons.
George Pearce was Minister for Defence from 1908 to 1909,1910 to 1913,1914 to 1921, and 1932 to 1934.
George Pearce was born in Mount Barker, South Australia, the fifth of eleven children born to Jane and James George Pearce.
George Pearce's father was a blacksmith of Cornish descent, while his mother was born in London.
An uncle, George Pearce, briefly served in the South Australian House of Assembly.
George Pearce grew up in the small town of Redhill, attending the local public school.
George Pearce left school at the age of 11 and began working as a farm labourer, but later secured a carpentry apprenticeship.
George Pearce moved to Adelaide once he completed his training, but struggled to find work during the economic downturn of the early 1890s.
In 1893, George Pearce moved to Coolgardie, Western Australia, to take advantage of the gold rush, working as a prospector with little success.
George Pearce later settled in Perth and resumed his work as a carpenter, joining the Amalgamated Society of Carpenters and Joiners.
George Pearce became prominent in the local labour movement, and in 1897 led a strike on building sites that led to him being blacklisted for several weeks.
On 4 April 1897, George Pearce married Eliza Maud Barrett at Trinity Church, Perth.
In 1893, George Pearce helped found the Progressive Political League, a precursor to the Western Australian branch of the ALP.
George Pearce was elected to the Subiaco Municipal Council in 1898.
George Pearce narrowly missed out on being a member of the first Labor Party Cabinet when Chris Watson became Prime Minister in 1904.
George Pearce was Chairman of Committees in the Senate from 1907 to 1908.
In 1908, George Pearce was elected to cabinet by the ALP caucus as a member of the first Fisher Ministry.
George Pearce had long shown an interest in defence matters in the Senate and was chosen by Prime Minister Andrew Fisher to become Minister for Defence.
George Pearce believed it was his duty as minister to accept "any reasonable expenditure on armament, ammunition, and accoutrements" recommended by his advisers and to resolve disagreements between sections of the military.
George Pearce regained the defence portfolio in the second Fisher Ministry.
George Pearce attended the 1911 Imperial Conference in London where the relationship between the Royal Navy and Royal Australian Navy was determined.
George Pearce oversaw the implementation of the Universal Service Scheme of compulsory military training scheme, and in 1912 approved the creation of the Central Flying School at Point Cook, Victoria, which became the "birthplace of Australian military aviation".
In 1914, Australia entered World War I Upon Billy Hughes' ascension as Prime Minister, Pearce was named Deputy Leader of the party.
George Pearce served as acting prime minister from January to August 1916, while Hughes was in England and France.
George Pearce was the first senator to hold the position, and the only senator to do so until Bill Spooner in 1962.
Outside of the defence portfolio, George Pearce oversaw the creation of Advisory Council of Science and Industry, the predecessor of the CSIRO, which Hughes had approved before his departure.
George Pearce was convinced of the necessity of introducing conscription, but the majority of his party did not agree.
George Pearce became the first Father of the Senate in 1923.
George Pearce was appointed a Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order in 1927.
In 1932, George Pearce joined the newly formed United Australia Party, and served as a minister in the government of Joseph Lyons until his defeat at the 1937 election.
George Pearce campaigned for the "No" vote in the 1933 Western Australian secession referendum, touring the state with Lyons and Tom Brennan for two weeks.
At the 1937 federal election, George Pearce's candidacy was opposed by the Wheatgrowers' Union and the Dominion League of Western Australia, a leading secessionist organisation.
George Pearce was a senator for 37 years and three months, a record term.
George Pearce made no attempts to re-enter parliament after his defeat.
George Pearce served on the Commonwealth Grants Commission from 1939 to 1944, and as chairman of the Defence Board of Business Administration from 1940 until it was abolished in 1947.
George Pearce had lived mainly in Melbourne since entering the Senate, but co-owned a farm in Tenterden, Western Australia, with his son and visited regularly.
George Pearce published an autobiography, Carpenter to Cabinet, in 1951, which had been written over a decade earlier.
George Pearce died at his home in Elwood on 24 June 1952, aged 82.