Premiers of Queensland

Privacy Level: Open (White)
Date: 1859
Location: Queensland, Australiamap
Surnames/tags: Queensland Australia government
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On 10th December 1859 Letters Patent issued by Queen Victoria were read to an elated audience, proclaiming Queensland to be a new colony, separate from New South Wales. From that day forward, Queenslanders were in charge of their own affairs. Queen Victoria assented to the creation of a new and separate colony to be called Queen’s Land on 6th June 1859, a day that continues to be celebrated as Queensland Day.

Under the conventions of the Westminster system followed in Queensland, the premier's authority is derived from two sources: a majority in the Legislative Assembly, and the premier's role as chair of Cabinet, determining the appointment and roles of ministers. Although ministerial appointments are the prerogative of the Governor of Queensland, the Governor makes these appointments under the advice (read, direction) of the premier.

Immediately following an election for the Legislative Assembly, the governor will call on the leader of the party which commands a majority in the Legislative Assembly, and ask them to commission a government. A re-elected government is resworn, with adjustments to the Cabinet as determined by the premier.

Profiles have been developed for Premiers of Queensland, for reasons of privacy other than those still living.

No. Photo Name Birth-place Party Years as Premier No. years Notes
1Robert HerbertEngland Squatter Conserv.1859-1866; 18666yrs 3mthsoversaw development of railways, telegraph and harbours; still youngest premier of any State
2Arthur Macalister CMGScotlandSquatter Conserv.1866; 1866-67; 1874-762yrs 11mthsintroduced Education Act 1875 with free but compulsory education for 6-12yo.
3Robert MacKenzieScotlandSquatter Conserv.1867-186815mths-
4Charles LilleyQldLiberal1868-187018mthswrote Education Act with Samuel Griffiths
5Arthur Palmer IrelandSquatter Conserv.1870-18743yrs 8mthsbeing 7th premiership in 4 years, brought stability; moved to Legislative Council as President for 17 years
6George ThornIrelandLiberal1876-18779mths-
7John DouglasEnglandLiberal1877-18791yr 10mths-
8Sir Thomas McIlwraith KCMGScotlandConserv.; Minist.1879-1883; 1888; 18935yrs 10mthsinadvertently created first step to unite the colonies in federation movement
9Sir Samuel Griffith GCMG KCWalesLiberal; Minist.1883-1888; 1890-18937yrs 2mthstook a keen interest in external affairs, including the newly annexed Territory of Papua and establishing the Queensland Maritime Defence Force; later the inaugural Chief Justice of Australia
10Boyd Dunlop MoreheadNSWLiberal1888-18901yr 9mths-
11Sir Hugh NelsonScotlandMinist.1893-18984yrs 6mthsbest remembered for valuable work as treasurer during the depression following the 1893 financial crisis; became president of Legislative Council
12Thomas ByrnesQldMinist.18986mthsdied in office aged 37 years
13James DicksonEnglandMinist.1898-189914mthsresponsible for winning a 'yes' vote in Qld for federation
14Anderson DawsonQldLabour18996daysfirst socialist gov't in the world
15Robert PhilpScotlandMinist.1899-1903; 1907-19084yrstransitioned to federation
16Arthur MorganQldLiberal1903-19062yrs 4mths-
17William KidstonScotlandLabour; Liberal1906-1907; 1908-19114yrs 10mthslast person to come back as Premier of Qld after losing position
18Digby DenhamEnglandLiberal1911-19153yrs 4mthsearly war years; ensured any German threat neutralised
19Thomas Joseph 'TJ' RyanVictoriaLabour1915-19193yrs 4mthsarguably Labor's most-capable leader
20Edward TheodoreSth AustLabour1919-19255yrs 4mthsabolished the Legislative Council so as to increase power of Legislative Assembly
21William GilliesSth AustLabour19258mthsestablished Main Roads Board (now Department of Transport and Main Roads)
22William McCormackQldLabour1925-19293yrs 7mthsoversaw the development of Mount Isa
23Edward MooreNZCPNP1929-19323yrs 7mthsreduced Legislative Assembly from 72 to 62 seats
24William Forgan SmithScotlandLabour1932-194210yrs 3mthsmajor public works initiated were the Story Bridge, Somerset Dam, Mackay Outer Harbour, Hornibrook Hwy and re-siting the uni to St Lucia; saw start of WW2; quit politics over federal income tax act; then longest-serving premier
25Frank CooperNSWLabour1942-19463yrs 6mthselected premier at 70yo during WW2, when Qld was anticipating invasion
26Edward 'Ned' HanlonQldLabour1946-19525yrs 10mthshad served in WW1
27Vincent GairQldLabour1952-19575yrs 7mthsformed Qld Labour Party (later become the DLP) and was later a Senator
28George Francis 'Frank' Nicklin MMNSWCountry1957-196810yrs 5mthsdecorated WW1 veteran; then longest-serving premier
29Jack PizzeyQldCountry19687mthsdied in office
30Gordon ChalkQldLiberal19687days'caretaker' premier whilst Country Party elected new party leader following Pizzey's sudden death
31Sir Johannes Bjelke-PetersenNZ of Tas parentsCountry-National1968-198719yrs 4mthslongest-serving premier
32Michael AhernQld - livingNational1987-198915mths-
33Russell CooperQld - livingNational19893mths-
34Wayne GossQldLabor1989-19966yrs 2mthspresided over implementation of reforms of the Fitzgerald Inquiry into police corruption
35Robert BorbidgeVictoria - livingNational1996-199816mths-
36Peter BeattieNSW - livingLabor1998-20079yrs 3mthskey agenda was to transform Queensland into Australia’s "Smart State" by restructuring the economy, reforming the education system, skilling the workforce and encouraging innovation, research and development
37Anna BlighQld - livingLabor2007-20124yrs 6mths-
38Campbell NewmanACT - livingLNP2012-20152yrs 11mths-
39Annastacia PalaszczukQld - livingLabor2015-current--

Political parties

Queensland's premiers have been drawn from the following political parties:

  • no party: initially, from 1859, political parties did not exist in Queensland. A majority of the early ten premiers were of a conservative persuasion with specific interests, be it squatters, agriculture or industry. Samuel Griffith was seen to be a close ally of the labour movement and introduced a bill to legalise trade unions, declaring that 'the great problem of this age is not how to accumulate wealth but how to secure its more equitable distribution'. However, he later formed an alliance with Thomas McIlwraith, clearly conservative, the so-called "Griffilwraith".
  • Continuous Ministry was an informal designation used to describe the grouping in the Queensland parliament that existed from 1890 to 1903, and provided six colonial-era premiers of Queensland. The Ministry was formed from a merging of Samuel Griffith's Liberal faction with Sir Thomas McIlwraith's Conservatives, forming the humorously-titled Griffilwraith.
  • Australian Labor Party was formally established in 1892, although a labour member sat in parliament since 1888. Anderson Dawson took the party to power in Queensland in 1899, for six days. Labour governments led Queensland from 1915-1929 and 1932-1956. After 32 years on the 'back-benches', the ALP has governed in Queensland in 1989-1998, 2001-2012 and since 2015. Labour has provided twelve of Queensland's 39 premiers.
  • Australian Country Party from 1920 to 1975; Country National Party to 1982; and thence National Party. Whilst the minor of the conservative coalition parties federally and in other States, the National Party was always the dominant of the partners in Queensland, due mostly to Queensland's excellent decentralisation. Six premiers have come from the Country Party and its successors, providing 25 years of government.
  • Queensland Labor Party was formed in 1957 as a breakaway group from the governing Labor Party after the expulsion of Premier Vince Gair. Gair was defeated at the 1960 election. In 1962 the party became the Queensland section of the Democratic Labor Party (DLP). The party continued to hold seats in the Queensland state parliament until 1972, then suffered a collapse in its vote and wound itself up in 1978.
  • Country and Progressive National Party was a short-lived conservative political in Queensland, formed in 1925 to combine the state's conservative forces into a single party. It held office between 1929 and 1932 under the leadership of Arthur Edward Moore. Following repeated election defeat it split into separate rural and urban wings in 1936.
  • Liberal Party whilst liberal partied around the world range from liberal conservatism on the right to social liberalism on the left, in Australia they have been aligned with conservatism. The Liberal Party of Australia was founded in 1944 as the successor to the United Australia Party (UAP). It has provided one premier to Queensland, Gordon Chalk who, as party leader and deputy premier assumed office upon the death of premier Jack Pizzey in 1968. Seven days later he returned to deputy premier when the County Party appointed Joh Bjelke-Petersen as replacement party leader and, therefore, premier.
  • Liberal National Party was formed in 2008 through the merger, in Queensland alone, of the Liberal and National parties. To date, its sole premier has been Campbell Newman for a month short of three years.

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