Joseph Cook

Sir Joseph Cook, GCMG (7 December 1860 – 30 July 1947) was an Australian politician who served as the sixth Prime Minister of Australia, in office from 1913 to 1914. He was the leader of the Commonwealth Liberal Party from 1913 to 1917, after earlier serving as the leader of the Anti-Socialist Party from 1908 to 1909.[1]

Cook was born in Silverdale, Staffordshire, England, and began working in the local coal mines at the age of nine. He emigrated to Australia in 1885, settling in Lithgow, New South Wales. He continued to work as a miner, becoming involved with the local labour movement as a union official. In 1891, Cook was elected to the New South Wales Legislative Assembly as a representative of the Labor Party, becoming one of its first members of parliament. He was elected party leader in 1893, but the following year left Labor due to a disagreement over party discipline. He was then invited to become a government minister under George Reid, and joined Reid's Free Trade Party.

In 1901, Cook was elected to the new federal parliament representing the Division of Parramatta. He became deputy leader of the federal Free Trade Party (later renamed the Anti-Socialist Party), again under George Reid, and in 1908 replaced Reid as party leader and Leader of the Opposition. In what became known as "the fusion", Cook agreed to merge his party with Alfred Deakin's Protectionist Party in 1909, forming a unified anti-Labor party for the first time. He became deputy leader of the new Commonwealth Liberal Party, allowing Deakin to become prime minister again, and served as Minister for Defence until the government's defeat at the 1910 election.

Cook replaced Deakin as leader of the Liberals in January 1913, and a few months later won a one-seat majority over Andrew Fisher's Labor Party at the 1913 election. His party failed to secure a majority in the Senate, making governing difficult, and as a result he engineered the first double dissolution. A new election was called for September 1914, at which the Liberals lost their majority; Fisher returned as prime minister. Cook was unable to pass much legislation during his time in office, but did oversee the early stages of Australia's involvement in World War I. He subsequently became Leader of the Opposition for a third time.

In 1917, Cook was involved in a second party merger, joining the Liberals with Billy Hughes's National Labor Party to form the Nationalist Party. He became the de facto deputy prime minister under Hughes, serving as Minister for the Navy (1917–1920) and Treasurer (1920–1921). He was a delegate to the 1919 Paris Peace Conference, where he was a member of the committee that determined the borders of Czechoslovakia, and along with Hughes was one of two Australians to sign the Treaty of Versailles. After leaving politics, Cook served as High Commissioner to the United Kingdom from 1921 to 1927. He died at the age of 86 as one of the last survivors of the first federal parliament.

Sir Joseph Cook

Joseph Cook - Crown Studios 03
6th Prime Minister of Australia
In office
24 June 1913 – 17 September 1914
MonarchGeorge V
Governor-GeneralLord Denman
Sir Ronald Munro Ferguson
Preceded byAndrew Fisher
Succeeded byAndrew Fisher
Leader of the Opposition
In office
8 October 1914 – 17 February 1917
Prime MinisterAndrew Fisher
Billy Hughes
Preceded byAndrew Fisher
Succeeded byFrank Tudor
In office
20 January 1913 – 24 June 1913
Prime MinisterAndrew Fisher
Preceded byAlfred Deakin
Succeeded byAndrew Fisher
In office
17 November 1908 – 26 May 1909
Prime MinisterAndrew Fisher
Preceded byGeorge Reid
Succeeded byAlfred Deakin
Personal details
Joseph Cooke

7 December 1860
Silverdale, Staffordshire, England
Died30 July 1947 (aged 86)
Bellevue Hill, New South Wales, Australia
Resting placeNorthern Suburbs Crematorium, Sydney
Political partyLabor (to 1894)
Independent (1894)
Free Trade (1894–1909)
Commonwealth Liberal (1909–1917)
Nationalist (after 1917)
Mary Turner (m. 1885)
Children8, including Richard
RelativesPeter Cook (grandson)
OccupationCoal miner, trade unionist

Early years

Joseph Cook's early residence in Silverdale
Cook lived in a small terraced house at 86 Newcastle Street for most of his childhood. The building now has a blue plaque commemorating his life.

Cook was born on 7 December 1860 in a small cottage in Silverdale, Staffordshire, England. He was the second of seven children born to Margaret (née Fletcher) and William Cooke. His older sister Sarah died in 1865, but his three younger sisters and two younger brothers lived to adulthood. Cook's parents moved to a one-up-one-down a few months after his birth, before eventually settling in a terraced house on Newcastle Street. The children shared a single room and two beds, and the family could rarely afford meat.[2] Cook's father was a coal miner under the butty system at the near Hollywood pit.[3] He was killed in a mining accident in April 1873, forcing his oldest son to become the family's primary source of income.[4]

Cook's only formal education was at the school attached to St Luke's, the local Anglican church. He left school and began working in the coal mines at the age of nine, earning one shilling per day for ten to twelve hours of work. Beginning at four o'clock in the morning, his tasks were to attend to the horses and clean and oil the mining equipment. After the passage of the Elementary Education Act 1870, Cook was allowed to return to school until he reached the legal leaving age.[4] He left school a second time after his father's death and returned to his former employment at the local colliery. However, as a result of his teacher's attention, together with that of his parents, an exceptionally strong ambition to improve his position became implanted in him. This ambition was to become one of his most prominent characteristics, revealed first in a drive for self-improvement and, later on in life, his determination to succeed in politics. During his teenage years, he embraced Primitive Methodism, and marked his conversion by dropping the "e" from his surname.[5] On 8 August 1885, he married Mary Turner at Wolstanton, Staffordshire, and the couple eventually had five sons and three daughters.

Shortly after their marriage, the couple emigrated to New South Wales and settled in Lithgow, joining Cook's brother-in-law and a number of other former miners from Silverdale.[5] Cook worked in the coal mines, becoming General-Secretary of the Western Miners Association in 1887. In 1888, he participated in demonstrations against Chinese immigration. He was also active in the Land Nationalisation League, which was influenced by the ideas of Henry George and strongly supported free trade,[5] and was a founding member of the Labor Party in 1891.[6]

Early political career

Cook in 1894

Cook was elected to the New South Wales Legislative Assembly as MP for the coalfields seat of Hartley in 1891, in Labor's first big breakthrough in Australian politics.[7] It was the first time Labor had won a seat in any parliament in Australia.

In 1894, however, Cook was the leader of those parliamentarians who refused to accept the Labor Party's decision to make all members sign a "pledge" to be bound by decisions of the Parliamentary Labor Party (Caucus).[5] Cook's protest was based on Labor's attitude to the tariff question in particular, with his preference for free trade being increasingly at odds with his party.[8] By the end of the year, he had become a follower of George Reid's Free Trade Party, and for years afterwards he was seen as a 'class traitor' by Labor.[5] He became an invaluable ally of Reid, despite the fact that the two men had distinctly different characters, and remained colleagues only at a distance.[6]

Cook was appointed Postmaster-General of New South Wales when Reid formed a government in August 1894. He chaired two intercolonial post and telegraph (P&T) conferences in 1896, at which the Australian colonies agreed to fund a Pacific Cable linking Australia to North America.[9] In opening the first conference, he spoke of the "federal spirit [...] animating most of our Australasian national endeavours at the present time". It was eventually resolved that the colonies would contribute equally to funding the cable rather than on a simple per-capita basis, an agreement which "marked a turning point in the achievement of 'practical Federation'" and foreshadowed the development of a Senate with equal representation for each state.[10] According to Kevin Livingston, who wrote a history of pre-Federation telecommunications in Australia, he "deserves to be recognised as having played an influential, mediating role in leading the Australian colonies towards technological federalism in the mid-1890s".[11]

Federal Parliament

Joseph Cook and Alfred Deakin
Cook and Alfred Deakin together in 1909

At the first Australian federal election in 1901, Cook was elected unopposed as member for Parramatta, a seat which then included the Lithgow area.[5] By this time, there was very little left of Cook's roots in Labor. He became deputy leader of the Free Trade Party, but did not hold office in Reid's 1904–05 ministry, mainly because Reid needed to offer portfolios to independent Protectionist members.

When Reid resigned as party leader on 16 November 1908, Cook succeeded him the following day, and agreed to merge the Anti-Socialist Party (the Free Trade Party had been renamed prior to the 1906 federal election) with Alfred Deakin's Protectionists, in an effort to counter Labor's popularity. Reid became deputy leader of the new Commonwealth Liberal Party, also known as "the Fusion." Cook served as Defence Minister in Deakin's 1909–1910 ministry, then succeeded Deakin as Liberal leader when the government was defeated by Labor in the 1910 elections. Cook had, by this time, become completely philosophically opposed to socialism.

Prime Minister

Joseph Cook - Broothorn Studios
Cook c. 1914

At the 1913 election, the Commonwealth Liberal Party led by Cook won a one-seat majority in the House of Representatives over the Labor Party, led by Andrew Fisher, and Cook became the sixth Prime Minister of Australia. However, Labor still had a majority in the Senate. Unable to govern effectively due to the hostile Senate, Cook decided to trigger a double dissolution under section 57 of the Constitution of Australia, the first time that provision had been used. He introduced a bill abolishing preferential employment for trade union members in the public service. As expected, the Senate rejected the bill, giving Cook an excuse to seek a double dissolution. World War I broke out in the middle of the resulting campaign for the September 1914 election. Andrew Fisher was able to remind voters that it was Labor that had favoured an independent Australian defence force, which the conservatives had opposed. Cook was defeated after a five-seat swing, and Fisher's Labor Party resumed office.[6]

World War I

Cook was prime minister for the first six weeks of Australia's involvement in World War I. On 30 July 1914, he was informed via telegram that the British government was considering a declaration of war and advised that Australia should take appropriate defence precautions.[12] He told an election meeting at Horsham, Victoria, the following day to "remember that when the Empire is at war, so is Australia at war".[13] At the suggestion of Governor-General Ronald Munro Ferguson, Cook called an emergency cabinet meeting for 3 August. It was attended by only four members of his ministry, as the others were out campaigning and unable to travel to Melbourne in time.[14] The government decided to offer an expeditionary force of 20,000 men – "of any suggested composition to any destination desired [...] at complete disposal of the Home Government; cost of despatch and maintenance would be borne by this Government" – and to give the British Admiralty control of the Royal Australian Navy "when desired".[15] Australia's offer was made 40 hours before the United Kingdom declared war on Germany, and it has been suggested that it may have intensified the pressure on the British government to enter the war, along with similar offers made by Canada and New Zealand.[16] The United Kingdom formally accepted Australia's offer on 6 August, and Cook subsequently authorised the creation of the Australian Imperial Force and the Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force; the latter captured and then occupied German New Guinea within a few months. Writing in 1962, Malcolm Henry Ellis described him as "the activator and originator of Australia's war effort".[17]

Hughes Government

After Fisher resigned from parliament in 1915, Billy Hughes became Labor leader and prime minister. In 1916, Hughes began a determined push for the introduction of conscription for military service, causing a split in the Labor Party over the issue. However, Hughes was able to stay in office after getting parliamentary support from Cook and his party. Later in 1916, the so-called National Labor Party, consisting of those Labor members who supported Hughes, merged with the Commonwealth Liberals to form the Nationalist Party. Although it was dominated by former Liberals, Hughes was named the new party's leader, with Cook as deputy leader. Cook became Minister for the Navy and de facto Deputy Prime Minister in Hughes' reconfigured government. The Nationalists had substantial victories over Labor in the 1917 election and the 1919 election.

Although Cook was a loyal deputy to Hughes, "at no time did he develop any personal affection for him". He thought Hughes was autocratic and prone to taking credit for things that others had accomplished. He did however admire Hughes' strong leadership and "immense energy", which contrasted with his own cautiousness.[18] Cook was Acting Prime Minister on a number of occasions when Hughes was overworked or on visits abroad. In parliament, he was effectively the Leader of the House (a title which did not yet exist), responsible for the passage of government business.[19] He campaigned strongly for the "Yes" vote in the second conscription plebiscite in 1917, touring three states and giving multiple speeches each day.[20] The "No" vote won, and Hughes fulfilled his earlier promise to resign as prime minister, although he remained in office as a caretaker. In determining who should be prime minister, Governor-General Ronald Munro Ferguson spoke first with Opposition Leader Frank Tudor, who declined to form a government, and then with senior members of the Nationalist Party. Cook's advice that "only Hughes" was suitable proved decisive in Munro Ferguson recommissioning him as prime minister, rather than another Nationalist like John Forrest.[21]

Overseas activities

Treaty of Versailles signatures - Australia, South Africa, New Zealand
Cook's signature on the Treaty of Versailles, situated after that of Hughes and before those of Louis Botha, Jan Smuts, and William Massey.

Cook and Hughes represented Australia at the 1918 Imperial War Conference in London. They left together on 26 April 1918, with William Watt as Acting Prime Minister in their absence.[21] Cook participated in all fifteen sessions of the conference, but found that the most important work was being undertaken by Hughes behind closed doors; he was generally not consulted.[22] After the conference concluded he paid an extended visit to the Western Front, accompanied by his adviser John Latham, author Arthur Conan Doyle, and war correspondent Charles Bean. They were taken within 1,000 yards (910 m) of the Hindenburg Line, near Bullecourt, and at one point a shell exploded less than a minute before they arrived at a meeting point.[23] Cook visited Australian Army camps in South England and toured the British dockyards, consulting with Admiral Lord Jellicoe about the future of the Royal Australian Navy.[22] He also visited his home town of Silverdale for the first time since he left England in 1886, and paid another visit to celebrate the signing of the Armistice of 11 November 1918.[23]

Cook was one of the Australian delegates at the 1919 Paris Peace Conference, which was led by Hughes. Although Australia and the other Dominions signed the Treaty of Versailles separately and became individual members of the League of Nations, for the preceding negotiations their representatives (and those of the United Kingdom) were considered to form one single British Empire delegation.[23] Cook was chosen as the lead British delegate on the Commission on Czechoslovak Affairs, which was tasked with determining the final borders of Czechoslovakia. He was hampered by his lack of knowledge of European geography and inability to speak French, the contemporary language of diplomacy.[24] According to Charles Seymour, one of the American delegates, he was "blissfully ignorant of everything European and practically every word of our discussion was Greek to him". Harold Nicolson, the other British delegate, said that he assumed an attitude of "benevolent boredom" during meetings.[24] Cook was generally in favour of an enlarged Czechoslovakia, believing that the lands of the Sudeten Germans had to be included in Czechoslovakia for security reasons. He and Nicolson had a difference of opinion over Great Schütt, but French delegation was in agreement with Cook and the island was awarded to Czechoslovakia.[25]

The Treaty of Versailles was signed on 23 June 1919 with Cook and Hughes signing on behalf of Australia. Cook had some private misgivings about the final document. Although he believed Germany needed to be punished, he thought some elements of the treaty were too vindictive.[26] He was strongly in favour of the creation of the League of Nations, and David Lloyd George considered him to be the most fervent supporter of the League in the entire British delegation. Lloyd George considered him "a man of calm and balanced judgment".[23] Cook and Hughes arrived back in Australia on 24 August 1919, after an absence of nearly 16 months. They travelled from Fremantle to Melbourne via the Trans-Australian Railway, and Cook particularly enjoyed their stop at the small settlement of Cook, South Australia, which had been named in his honour a few years earlier.[27] Hughes was feted upon his return, but Cook did not receive similar adulation and returned to Sydney relatively quietly. An early election was called to capitalise on the prime minister's popularity, which saw the Nationalists win re-election with a reduced majority.[28]


James Guthrie - Sir Joseph Cook
Portrait of Cook by James Guthrie, c. 1920

In March 1920, Cook was appointed Acting Treasurer in the absence of William Watt, who was attending a conference in London. Watt resigned by cable in June after falling out with Hughes. The position of Treasurer was initially offered to Stanley Bruce, who declined it, and then to Cook, who reluctantly accepted.[28] He was took office at the height of the post-war boom and was faced with high inflation, but also high unemployment as the economy attempted to absorb returned soldiers. Cook was a fiscal conservative by nature, preferring to limit government spending and keep taxes low. He brought down two budgets during his tenure, for the 1920–21 and 1921–22 financial years; both were primarily concerned with reducing inflation.[29] He was twice faced with significant revenue shortfalls, which he chose to fill primarily with overseas loans and only a small increase in taxation. He found both options distasteful, but preferred lower taxes – the opposite approach to that taken by Canada, which faced a similar situation.[30]

Cook has been viewed as an orthodox but unimaginative Treasurer whose conservatism with regard to government spending may have been unsuited to the needs of post-war reconstruction.[31] One notable initiative of his was the transfer of responsibility for issuing banknotes from the Treasury Department to the Commonwealth Bank of Australia. The bank's governor Denison Miller regarded this as "the first and most important step in the enlargement [of the Commonwealth Bank] into a national bank in every sense of the word".[32] Cook's final months in parliament were spent as Acting Prime Minister, as Hughes was out of the country for five months attending the 1921 Imperial Conference in London. In November 1921, it was announced that he would be appointed as Australia's High Commissioner to the United Kingdom in place of Andrew Fisher, whose term had ended earlier that year.[28]

High Commissioner to the United Kingdom

Cook arrived in London on 13 January 1922, where career diplomat Malcolm Shepherd had been chargé d'affaires for a year. His primary duties were to promote immigration, investment, and trade, as well as to assist in securing favourable loans for the state and federal governments.[33] He played a key role in organising the Australian pavilion at the British Empire Exhibition of 1924.[34] Cook represented Australia at the International Labour Conferences and the 1922 Genoa Conference, but did "little more than attend and subsequently report to his government". He was a more active participant at the League of Nations, where he was Australia's chief delegate. He appeared before the Permanent Mandates Commission on a number of occasions to answer questions about the administration of its League of Nations mandates, Nauru and New Guinea.[35] Cook overhauled the administration of Australia House, significantly reducing the number of staff and the annual running costs. This brought him into conflict with Shepherd, his official secretary, who complained that he was "not an easy man to get on with".[36]

Cook particularly enjoyed the social and ceremonial aspects of his new position. His first major engagement as High Commissioner was to represent Australia at the wedding of Princess Mary, and he also attended the wedding of the future George VI and Queen Elizabeth and the funeral of Queen Alexandra.[37] He hosted regular social functions at Australia House, and mixed more easily in high society than his predecessor, whose partial deafness tended to make him withdrawn. Observers noted his "bonhomie and accessibility" in comparison to the "asperity and seclusiveness of Mr Fisher".[38] Cook's term as High Commissioner formally concluded on 10 August 1927, after a six-month extension from the original five-year term. Leaving England ten days later, he and his wife were serenaded at the Port of Tilbury by the Australian opera singer Nellie Melba, who had become a close friend of theirs.[35] John Cockburn wrote that "rarely has the retirement of one of the representatives in London of the Dominions been attended with such widespread expressions of regret".[36]

Final years and death

Sir Joseph Cook
Cook in later life

Unlike his predecessors Reid and Fisher, Cook did not settle in London permanently after the end of his term as High Commissioner. He arrived back in Sydney in September 1927 and bought a large house in Bellevue Hill, overlooking Sydney Harbour.[39] In 1930, he demolished the house and built a luxury apartment block called Silchester, designed by Leslie Wilkinson. He and his wife retired to one flat and lived on the income from the others.[40] In 1928, Cook was appointed chairman of a royal commission into "the finances of South Australia, as affected by Federation". His co-commissioner Herbert Brookes wrote that "it has been a joy to be associated with you again, even though you have had it all your own way". The commission's report, handed down in 1929, found that South Australia had been disadvantaged by federal government policies that favoured New South Wales and Victoria, and should be compensated as a result. The report later became one of several documents used to justify the creation of the Commonwealth Grants Commission and the expansion of federal grants to state governments.[41]

Cook enjoyed a low-profile retirement, with Smith's Weekly observing in 1936 that no other high-ranking politician had "staged such a swiftly effective fade-out from the public view on retirement from the hurly-burly".[42] He was interviewed during the Sudeten Crisis and after the German invasion of Poland, on both occasions defending the Treaty of Versailles and blaming German aggression for the new war.[43][44] Cook ignored requests to write his memoirs, and in fact destroyed many of his personal papers; this would later present difficulties for his biographers. His final public-speaking engagement was at a church function in July 1940, where he warned against authoritarianism and told the audience to "beware of those people who want to establish a new world order [...] the old things of the world today are the wisest and best things I know".[45]

Cook died at his home in Bellevue Hill on 30 July 1947, after a heart-related illness of about three weeks. He was granted a state funeral, held at the Wesley Chapel on Castlereagh Street, and then cremated at the Northern Suburbs Crematorium.[46] Pallbearers included Billy Hughes and Willie Kelly, the latter being the last surviving member of his ministry.[47] Cook died at the age of 86, surpassing George Reid as Australia's longest-lived prime minister; his record was broken by Hughes a few years later. He was the oldest living prime minister for a record span of over 27 years, following the death of Edmund Barton in 1920.[47]


Joseph Cook bust
Bust of Joseph Cook by sculptor Wallace Anderson located in the Prime Ministers Avenue in the Ballarat Botanical Gardens

Cook was appointed to the Privy Council on 16 July 1914.[48] He was knighted in 1918 as Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George (GCMG).[49]

In 1972, he was honoured on a postage stamp bearing his portrait issued by Australia Post.[50]

Cook is the only (eligible) Prime Minister who does not have a federal electorate named after him. Although there is a seat called Cook, that was named not after the Prime Minister but after Captain James Cook. To resolve the problem, the Australian Electoral Commission stated at the 2009 Federal redistribution of New South Wales that the seat was now considered to be named for both of them.[51]

However as of 2018 no such action was taken and ironically the member for Cook, Scott Morrison became Prime Minister in August 2018.

See also


  1. ^ "Prime Facts 19" (PDF). Old Parliament House. The Australian Prime Ministers Centre. Archived from the original (PDF) on 5 September 2012. Retrieved 10 January 2008.
  2. ^ John Murdoch (1996). Sir Joe: A Political Biography of Sir Joseph Cook. Minerva. p. 14. ISBN 1861061048.
  3. ^ Murdoch (1996), p. 13.
  4. ^ a b Murdoch (1996), p. 15.
  5. ^ a b c d e f Crowley, F.K. "Cook, Sir Joseph (1860–1947)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Australian National University. Retrieved 24 April 2016.
  6. ^ a b c "Joseph Cook". Australia's Prime Ministers. National Archives of Australia. Retrieved 24 April 2016.
  7. ^ "Sir Joseph Cook (1860-1947)". Members of Parliament. Parliament of New South Wales. 7 October 2013. Archived from the original on 12 December 2008.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  8. ^ "Joseph Cook". Prime Ministers of Australia. National Museum Australia. Retrieved 24 April 2016.
  9. ^ Kevin Livingston (1998). "Joseph Cook's Contribution" (PDF). Papers on Parliament No. 32 – The People's Conventions: Corowa (1893) and Bathurst (1896). Parliamentary Library of Australia. p. 127.
  10. ^ Livingston (1998), p. 128.
  11. ^ Livingston (1998), p. 129.
  12. ^ Douglas Newton (2015). "'We have sprung at a bound': Australia's leap into the Great War, July–August 1914" (PDF). La Trobe Journal. 96: 17.
  13. ^ Newton (2015), p. 25.
  14. ^ Newton (2015), p. 18.
  15. ^ Newton (2015), p. 20.
  16. ^ Newton (2015), p. 21.
  17. ^ Malcolm Henry Ellis (10 November 1962). "Joseph Cook: The Incredible Prime Minister". The Bulletin (vol. 85, no. 4317).
  18. ^ Murdoch (1996), p. 124.
  19. ^ Murdoch (1996), p. 125.
  20. ^ Murdoch (1996), p. 126.
  21. ^ a b Murdoch (1996), p. 127.
  22. ^ a b Murdoch (1996), p. 128.
  23. ^ a b c d Murdoch (1996), p. 129.
  24. ^ a b Dagmar Perman (1962). The Shaping of the Czechoslovak State: Diplomatic History of the Boundaries of Czechoslovakia, 1914-1920, Volume 7. Brill. p. 149.
  25. ^ Perman (1962), p. 151.
  26. ^ Murdoch (1929), p. 130.
  27. ^ Murdoch (1996), p. 131.
  28. ^ a b c Murdoch (1996), p. 132.
  29. ^ John Hawkins (2009). "Joseph Cook: the reluctant treasurer" (PDF). Economic Roundup. Department of the Treasury (2): 77.
  30. ^ Murdoch (1996), p. 133–134.
  31. ^ Murdoch (1996), p. 135.
  32. ^ Hawkins (2009), p. 78.
  33. ^ Graham Bebbington (1988). Pit Boy to Prime Minister: The Story of the Right Hon. Sir Joseph Cook, P.C., G.C.M.G. Centre of Local and Community History, University of Keele. pp. 79–80.
  34. ^ Bebbington (1988), p. 82.
  35. ^ a b Bebbington (1988), p. 84.
  36. ^ a b Murdoch (1996), p. 138.
  37. ^ Bebbington (1988), pp. 81–83.
  38. ^ Murdoch (1996), p. 137.
  39. ^ Bebbington (1988), p. 86.
  40. ^ Murdoch (1996), p. 139.
  41. ^ Murdoch (1996), p. 140.
  42. ^ "What's become of Sir Joseph Cook?". Smith's Weekly. 12 December 1936.
  43. ^ "Czechoslovakia: How Boundaries Were Decided". The Sydney Morning Herald. 24 May 1938.
  44. ^ "Helped In Peace Treaty". Daily News (Sydney). 4 September 1939.
  45. ^ Bebbington (1988), p. 88.
  46. ^ Bebbington (1988), p. 89.
  47. ^ a b Bebbington (1988), p. 90.
  48. ^ "No. 28850". The London Gazette. 17 July 1914. p. 5539.
  49. ^ "No. 30831". The London Gazette (Supplement). 6 August 1918. p. 9264.
  50. ^ "Australian postage stamp". Australian Stamp and Coin Company. Retrieved 10 February 2010.
  51. ^ Australian Electoral Commission NSW redistribution, 2009

Further reading


  • Joseph Cook's Diary, 1909–1928, National Archives of Australia, Canberra AFC.


  • Atkinson, Ann (1995), Dictionary of Famous Australians, Allen and Unwin.
  • Bebbington, G. (1988), Pit Boy to Prime Minister: Rt Hon Sir Joseph Cook PC, GCMG, Centre of Local and Community History, University of Keele.
  • Crowley, F. K, Joseph Cook, Australian Dictionary of Biography, (eds. 1966, 1981) Melbourne University Press
  • Hughes, Colin A (1976), Mr Prime Minister. Australian Prime Ministers 1901–1972, Oxford University Press, Melbourne, Victoria, Ch. 7; ISBN 0-19-550471-2
  • Marsden, Susan; National Archives of Australia (2002), Joseph Cook : guide to archives of Australia's prime ministers, National Archives of Australia, ISBN 978-0-642-34481-6
  • Murdoch, John (1996), Sir Joe: A Political Biography of Sir Joseph Cook, Minerva Press, London.
  • Rickard, John (2000), 'Sir Joseph Cook,' in Michelle Grattan (ed.), Australian Prime Ministers, New Holland, Frenchs Forest, New South Wales, pages 89–98; ISBN 1-86436-756-3
  • Murdoch, R.M, Joseph Cook: a political biography unpublished PhD thesis, University of New South Wales, 1968.
New South Wales Legislative Assembly
Preceded by
George Donald
Member for Hartley
Succeeded by
John Hurley
Parliament of Australia
New division Member for Parramatta
Succeeded by
Herbert Pratten
Party political offices
Preceded by
Steering Committee of 5 elected in 1891
Leader of the Australian Labor Party in New South Wales
Succeeded by
James McGowen
Preceded by
George Reid
Leader of the Anti-Socialist Party
Party disbanded
Preceded by
Alfred Deakin
Leader of the Commonwealth Liberal Party
Political offices
Preceded by
George Reid
Leader of the Opposition of Australia
Succeeded by
Alfred Deakin
Preceded by
George Pearce
Minister for Defence
Succeeded by
George Pearce
Preceded by
Alfred Deakin
Leader of the Opposition of Australia
Succeeded by
Andrew Fisher
Preceded by
Andrew Fisher
Prime Minister of Australia
Preceded by
King O'Malley
Minister for Home Affairs
Succeeded by
William Archibald
Preceded by
Andrew Fisher
Leader of the Opposition of Australia
Succeeded by
Frank Tudor
Preceded by
Jens Jensen
Minister for the Navy
Succeeded by
William Laird Smith
Preceded by
William Watt
Treasurer of Australia
Succeeded by
Stanley Bruce
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Andrew Fisher
Australian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom
Succeeded by
Sir Granville Ryrie
1901 Australian federal election

The 1901 Australian federal election for the inaugural Parliament of Australia was held in Australia on Friday 29 March and Saturday 30 March 1901. The elections followed Federation and the establishment of the Commonwealth of Australia on 1 January 1901. All 75 seats in the Australian House of Representatives, six of which were uncontested, as well as all 36 seats in the Australian Senate, were up for election.

After the initial confusion of the Hopetoun Blunder, the first Prime Minister of Australia, Edmund Barton, went into the inaugural 1901 federal election as the appointed head of a Protectionist Party caretaker government. While the Protectionists came first on votes and seats, they fell short of a majority. The incumbent government remained in office with the parliamentary support of the Labour Party, who held the balance of power, while the Free Trade Party formed the opposition. A few months prior to the 1903 election, Barton resigned to become a founding member of the High Court of Australia, and was replaced by Alfred Deakin.

Then Prime Minister Edmund Barton entered parliament at this election, as did six future Prime Ministers - Alfred Deakin, Chris Watson, George Reid, Joseph Cook, Andrew Fisher, and Billy Hughes - and future opposition leader Frank Tudor.

1906 Australian federal election

The 1906 Australian federal election was held in Australia on 12 December 1906. All 75 seats in the House of Representatives, and 18 of the 36 seats in the Senate were up for election. The incumbent Protectionist Party minority government led by Prime Minister Alfred Deakin retained government, despite winning the fewest House of Representatives votes and seats of the three parties. Parliamentary support was provided by the Labour Party led by Chris Watson, while the Anti-Socialist Party (renamed from the Free Trade Party), led by George Reid, remained in opposition.

Watson resigned as Labour leader in October 1907 and was replaced by Andrew Fisher. The Protectionist minority government fell in November 1908 to Labour, a few days before Reid resigned as Anti-Socialist leader, who was replaced by Joseph Cook. The Labour minority government fell in June 1909 to the newly formed Commonwealth Liberal Party led by Deakin. The party was formed on a shared anti-Labour platform as a merger between Deakin, leader of the Protectionists, and Cook, leader of the Anti-Socialists, in order to counter Labour's growing popularity. The merger didn't sit well with several of the more progressive Protectionists, who defected to Labour or sat as independents.

The merger would allow the Deakin Commonwealth Liberals to construct a mid-term parliamentary majority, however less than a year later at the 1910 election, Labour won both majority government and a Senate majority, representing a number of firsts: it was Australia's first elected federal majority government, Australia's first elected Senate majority, the world's first Labour Party majority government at a national level, and after the 1904 Watson minority government the world's second Labour Party government at a national level.

1913 Australian federal election

The 1913 Australian federal election was held in Australia on 31 May 1913. All 75 seats in the House of Representatives, and 18 of the 36 seats in the Senate were up for election. The incumbent Labor Party, led by Prime Minister Andrew Fisher, was defeated by the opposition Commonwealth Liberal Party under Joseph Cook. The new government had a majority of just a single seat, and held a minority of seats in the Senate. It would last only 15 months, suffering defeat at the 1914 election.

The 1913 election was held in conjunction with six referendum questions, none of which were carried. According to David Day, Andrew Fisher's biographer, "it was probably the timing of the referenda that was most responsible for the disappointing election result" for the Labor Party.

1913 in Australia

The following lists events that happened during 1913 in Australia.

1914 Australian federal election

The 1914 Australian federal election was held in Australia on 5 September 1914. The election had been called before the declaration of war in August 1914. All 75 seats in the House of Representatives and all 36 seats in the Senate were up for election, as a result of the first double dissolution being granted. The incumbent Commonwealth Liberal Party, led by Prime Minister Joseph Cook, was defeated by the opposition Labor Party under Andrew Fisher. Fisher returned for a third term as prime minister.

Until the defeat of the Howard Government in 2007, the Cook Government was the only non-Labor Government in Australian history that did not last longer than the Labor government it had replaced.

1914 in Australia

1914 in Australia was dominated by the outbreak of World War I. Andrew Fisher, who became Prime Minister a month after Australia entered the war vowed that Australia would "stand beside our own to help and defend Britain to the last man and the last shilling." In 1914, the Australian war effort was dominated by recruiting and equipping a force to fight overseas.

The southern winter rainfall zone of the continent suffered its worst rainfall failure until 1982. This led to record low wheat yields and exacerbated the problems caused by outbreak of World War I.

1917 Australian federal election

The 1917 Australian federal election was held in Australia on 5 May 1917. All 75 seats in the House of Representatives and 18 of the 36 seats in the Senate were up for election. The incumbent Nationalist Party, led by Prime Minister Billy Hughes, defeated the opposition Labor Party led by Frank Tudor in a landslide.

Hughes, at the time a member of the ALP, had become prime minister when Andrew Fisher retired in 1915. The Australian Labor Party split of 1916 over the conscription issue had led Hughes and 24 other pro-conscription Labor MPs to split off as the National Labor Party, which was able to form a minority government supported by the Commonwealth Liberal Party under Joseph Cook. Later that year, National Labor and the Liberals merged to form the Nationalist Party, with Hughes as leader and Cook as deputy leader. The election was fought in the aftermath of the 1916 plebiscite on conscription, which had been narrowly defeated. The Nationalists won a decisive victory, securing the largest majority government since Federation. The ALP suffered a large electoral swing against it, losing almost seven percent of its vote from 1914. The swing was magnified by the large number of former Labor MPs who followed Hughes out of the party.

Alfred Deakin

Alfred Deakin (3 August 1856 – 7 October 1919) was an Australian politician who served as the second Prime Minister of Australia, in office for three separate terms – 1903 to 1904, 1905 to 1908, and 1909 to 1910. Before entering office, he was a leader of the movement for Australian federation.Deakin was born in Melbourne, and attended the University of Melbourne before training as a barrister. He was elected to the Victorian Legislative Assembly in 1879, aged 22, and became a government minister in 1883. Deakin was a major contributor to the establishment of liberal reforms in the colony, including pro-worker industrial reforms. He also played a major part in developing irrigation in Australia.

Throughout the 1890s Deakin was a participant in conferences of representatives of the Australian colonies that were established to draft a constitution for the proposed federation. He played an important role in ensuring that the draft was liberal and democratic and in achieving compromises to enable its eventual success. Between conferences, he worked to popularise the concept of federation and campaigned for its acceptance in colonial referenda. He then fought hard to ensure acceptance of the proposed constitution by the Government of the United Kingdom. After Federation, Deakin was Attorney-General in the Barton Government from 1901 to 1903. He was one of the chief architects of the White Australia policy, overseeing the drafting of the Immigration Restriction Act 1901.

As Prime Minister, Deakin completed a significant legislative program that makes him, with Labor's Andrew Fisher, the founder of an effective Commonwealth government. He expanded the High Court, provided major funding for the purchase of ships, leading to the establishment of the Royal Australian Navy as a significant force under the Fisher government, and established Australian control of Papua. Confronted by the rising Australian Labor Party in 1909, he merged his Protectionist Party with Joseph Cook's Anti-Socialist Party to create the Commonwealth Liberal Party (known commonly as the Fusion), the main ancestor of the modern Liberal Party of Australia. The Deakin-led Liberal Party government lost to Fisher Labor at the 1910 election, which saw the first time a federal political party had been elected with a majority in either house in Federal Parliament. Deakin resigned from Parliament prior to the 1913 election, with Joseph Cook winning the Liberal Party leadership ballot.

Bun Cook

Frederick Joseph "Bun" Cook (September 18, 1903 – March 19, 1988) was a Canadian professional ice hockey forward and coach. He was an Allan Cup champion with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds in 1924 before embarking on a 13-year professional career. He played for the Saskatoon Crescents in the Western Canada Hockey League (WCHL) and the New York Rangers and Boston Bruins in the National Hockey League (NHL). Cook was a member of two Stanley Cup championship teams with the Rangers, in 1928 and 1933, playing on the "Bread Line" with his brother Bill and Frank Boucher.

Cook turned to coaching in 1937 and spent 19 years in the American Hockey League (AHL), with the Providence Reds for six seasons and the remainder with the Cleveland Barons. His 636 wins as a coach is the most in AHL history and he led his teams to the playoffs in all but one season. Cook was named an AHL All-Star coach on six occasions, and led his teams to a record seven Calder Cup championships. He was posthumously inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1995 and to the AHL Hall of Fame in 2007.

He was the last surviving former player of the Saskatoon Crescents.

Commonwealth Liberal Party

The Commonwealth Liberal Party (CLP, also known as the Deakin–Cook Party, The Fusion, or the Deakinite Liberal Party) was a political movement active in Australia from 1909 to 1917, shortly after Federation. The CLP came about as a result of a merger between the two non-Labor parties, the Protectionist Party and the Anti-Socialist Party (formerly Free Trade Party) which most of their MPs accepted. The CLP is the earliest direct ancestor of the current Liberal Party of Australia.

Cook, Australian Capital Territory

Cook (postcode: 2614) is a suburb of the Belconnen district of Canberra, located within the Australian Capital Territory, Australia. At the 2016 census, Cook had a population of 2,805 people.The suburb of Cook is named after Captain James Cook and the sixth Prime Minister of Australia Sir Joseph Cook. The streets in Cook are named after notable women from Australian history.

Cook Ministry

The Cook Ministry (Commonwealth Liberal) was the 10th ministry of the Government of Australia. It was led by the country's 6th Prime Minister, Joseph Cook. The Cook Ministry succeeded the Second Fisher Ministry, which dissolved on 24 June 1913 following the federal election that took place in May which saw the Commonwealth Liberals defeat Andrew Fisher's Labor Party - albeit with a one-seat majority. The ministry was replaced by the Third Fisher Ministry on 17 September 1914 following the federal election that took place on 5 September which saw Labor defeat the Commonwealth Liberals.

Ed Cook (American football)

Edward Joseph Cook (June 29, 1932 – September 7, 2007) was a professional American football offensive lineman in the National Football League (NFL).

Born in Philadelphia, Cook attended high school at Southeast Catholic and then the University of Notre Dame. Cook made his professional debut in the NFL in 1958 with the Chicago Cardinals. He played for the Cardinals (1958–65), and the Atlanta Falcons (1966–67).

Electoral district of Hartley (New South Wales)

Hartley was an electoral district of the Legislative Assembly in the Australian state of New South Wales, created in 1859 in the Lithgow area and named after the town of Hartley, near Lithgow. It replaced part of Cook and Westmoreland. From 1891 to 1894, it elected two members. In 1920, with the introduction of proportional representation, it was absorbed into Bathurst, along with Orange. It was recreated in 1927 and abolished in 1968 and partly replaced by Blue Mountains.

Frank Tudor

Francis Gwynne Tudor (29 January 1866 – 10 January 1922) was an Australian politician who served as the leader of the Australian Labor Party from 1916 until his death. He had previously been a government minister under Andrew Fisher and Billy Hughes.

Tudor was born in Melbourne to Welsh immigrant parents. He left school at a young age to enter the workforce, serving an apprenticeship in the felt hat industry and later studying his trade for periods in England and the United States. He became involved in trade unionism in England, and after returning to Australia served as president of the Felt Hatters' Union. Tudor was elected president of the Victorian Trades Hall Council in 1900. The following year, he was elected to the new federal parliament as a representative of the Labor Party. He was chosen as the parliamentary party's first whip, and held that position until entering cabinet in 1908.

Tudor served as Minister for Trade and Customs from 1908 to 1909, 1910 to 1913, and 1914 to 1916, in the governments of Andrew Fisher and Billy Hughes. He remained loyal to the Labor Party during the split over conscription in 1916, and was elected party leader after Hughes' expulsion. He replaced Joseph Cook as leader of the opposition upon the formation of the third Hughes Ministry in February 1917. Tudor led Labor to the 1917 and 1919 federal elections, on both occasions suffering heavy defeats. His death in office at the age of 55 came after a long period of ill health. He was the first leader of a major Australian political party to die in office, and was accorded a state funeral.

Joseph Cook (disambiguation)

Joseph Cook (1860–1947) was Prime Minister of Australia 1913–14.

Joseph or Joe Cook may also refer to:

Joseph Louis Cook (died 1814), Mohawk chief

Joseph H. Cook (1829–1921), merchant and political figure in Nova Scotia, Canada

Joe Cook (actor) (1890–1959), American actor and comedian

Joe Cook (basketball) (born 1985), American basketball coach

Joseph Cook (gymnast), British Olympic gymnast

Josephus Flavius Cook (also known as Joseph Cook; 1838–1901), American philosophical lecturer, clergyman, and writer

List of Australian Leaders of the Opposition

Below is a list of Australian Leaders of the Opposition.

Members of the New South Wales Legislative Assembly, 1894–1895

This is a list of members of the New South Wales Legislative Assembly who served in the 16th parliament of New South Wales from 1894 to 1895 They were elected at the 1894 colonial election on 17 July 1894. The Speaker was Sir Joseph Palmer Abbott.


Under the constitution, ministers were required to resign to recontest their seats in a by-election when appointed. These by-elections are only noted when the minister was defeated; in general, he was elected unopposed.

¶ Despite being the inaugural Labor Leader in the previous parliament, Joseph Cook stood as an independent Labor candidate in the 1884 election and became the Postmaster General in George Reid's Free Trade government.

Second Hughes Ministry

The Second Hughes Ministry (National Labor) was the 13th ministry of the Government of Australia. It was led by the country's 7th Prime Minister, Billy Hughes. The Second Hughes Ministry succeeded the First Hughes Ministry, which dissolved on 14 November 1916 following the split that took place within the governing Labor Party over the issue of conscription. This led to Hughes and his supporters leaving the party to form the National Labor Party, which swiftly received parliamentary support from Joseph Cook and the Commonwealth Liberal Party. The ministry was replaced by the Third Hughes Ministry on 17 February 1917 after National Labor and Commonwealth Liberal merged into the Nationalist Party.

Party leadership positions
Leader of the Commonwealth Liberal Party
In office
20 January 1913 – 17 February 1917
DeputyJohn Forrest
Preceded byAlfred Deakin
Succeeded byParty Abolished
Leader of the Anti-Socialist Party
In office
17 November 1908 – 26 May 1909
Preceded byGeorge Reid
Succeeded byParty Abolished
Cabinet posts
Treasurer of Australia
In office
28 July 1920 – 20 December 1921
Prime MinisterBilly Hughes
Preceded byWilliam Watt
Succeeded byStanley Bruce
Minister for the Navy
In office
17 February 1917 – 28 July 1920
Prime MinisterBilly Hughes
Preceded byJens Jensen
Succeeded byWilliam Laird Smith
Minister for Home Affairs
In office
24 June 1913 – 17 September 1914
Prime MinisterHimself
Preceded byKing O'Malley
Succeeded byWilliam Archibald
Minister for Defence
In office
2 June 1909 – 29 April 1910
Prime MinisterAlfred Deakin
Preceded byGeorge Pearce
Succeeded byGeorge Pearce
Member of the Australian Parliament for Parramatta
In office
30 March 1901 – 11 November 1921
Preceded byDivision created
Succeeded byHerbert Pratten
Member of the
New South Wales Parliament
for Hartley
In office
6 June 1891 – 30 March 1901
Serving with George Donald (1891–1894)
Preceded byJohn Hurley
Succeeded byJohn Hurley


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