Andrew Fisher, past prime minster of Australia, symbolised the powerful political influence exercised by the mining fields and miners on that country’s growth as a democratic nation.
Andrew Fisher was three times prime minister of Australia. He led the nation at the time of Gallipoli landing. He had also been a minister in the first Queensland Labor Government (1899) and the first federal Labor government (1904). By occupation he was a coal miner, then a gold miner and finally a mine engine driver. He symbolised the powerful political influence exercised by the mining fields and miners on Australia’s growth as a democratic nation. Significantly his government began the transcontinental railway, so vital to Western Australian and its eastern goldfields.
Andrew Fisher was Prime Minister of Australia in a period when a wide variety of national institutions and policies were being shaped. He was personally respected on all sides of politics.
In his political heyday he covered part of the period when Australia had hundreds of prosperous mining towns. Indeed the Prime Minister of Australia had spent part of his childhood in a mining field or represented in the federal parliament a constituency with strong mining interests. Fisher, along with Deakin, Cook, Hughes, Scullin, Menzies, Curtin and Chifley belonged to this distinguished group.
Before entering parliament he was essentially a mining man. Through his political career he represented a constituency centred on the Gympie goldfields. The miners’ trade union was the early base of his political power.
He was treasurer as well as Prime Minister in his three terms as Prime Minister. He learned his early financial skills in a Queensland mining town and in its civic organisations, including the trade union, the Presbyterian Church, the friendly society called Manchester Unity which provided social welface and a local newspaper of which he was a founder and the initial chairman of directors and treasurer.
He was an early leader of the Labor Party which, in some states depended heavily on the support from mining fields rather than capital cities, and was prominent in trying to improve the conditions of miners.
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