Andrew Fisher

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Andrew Fisher (29 August 1862 – 22 October 1928) was an Australian politician who served as the fifth Prime Minister on three separate occasions. Fisher's 1910-13 Labor ministry completed a vast legislative programme which made him, along with Protectionist Alfred Deakin, the founder of the statutory structure of the new nation. According to D. J. Murphy, "his contemporaries saw him as honest and trustworthy, but surpassed by Billy Hughes in wit, oratory and brilliance. Fisher's record however reveals a legacy of reforms and national development which lasted beyond the divisions that Hughes left in the Labor Party and in Australia". Fisher is second to Bob Hawke as Australia's longest serving Labor Prime Minister.

Fisher's second Prime Ministership in 1910 represented a number of firsts: it was Australia's first federal majority government; Australia's first Senate majority, and the world's first Labour Party majority government at a national level. At the time, it represented the culmination of Labour's involvement in politics. It was a period of reform unmatched in the Commonwealth until the 1940s.

'Labour' was renamed to 'Labor' during 1912 at the instigation of King O'Malley.[1]

Contents

Early life

Fisher was born in Crosshouse, a mining village near Kilmaurs, East Ayrshire, Scotland. He was the second of eight children of Robert Fisher and Jane Garvin.[2] Fisher's education consisted of some primary schooling, some night schooling, and the reading of books in the library of the cooperative his father had helped to establish. He began working at the age of 13 in the Crosshouse coal mines. At 17 he was elected secretary of the local branch of the Ayrshire Miners' Union,[3] the first step on a road to politics.[4] The union called a strike in 1881 to demand a 10 per cent increase to wages, but this was to prove ultimately unsuccessful and Fisher lost his job as a result. After finding employment at another mine, he once again led miners to strike for higher wages in 1885. This time, he was not only sacked but also blacklisted.[2]

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