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George Houston Reid

George Houston Reid (February 25, 1845 - September 12, 1918) a member of the Free Trade Party, was the fifth Prime Minister of Australia, holding the office for approximately 11 months from August 18, 1904 to July 5. 1905.

Reid was born in Scotland, the fifth of seven children to a Presbyterian minister, who immigrated to Victoria in 1852 during the 1850s gold rush. He received a basic education at what later became Scotch College[?], but when the family moved to Sydney the 13-year-old Reid obtained a job as a clerk. Whilst still a teenager, Reid joined a debating society, where he demonstrated a considerable talent for debating. He was apparently a good recruiter for the club, bringing in, amongst others, Edmund Barton. Joining the colonial public service, he rose rapidly and in 1878 he became head of the Attorney-General's department. He also published several books on political questions - notably free trade.

Qualifying as a barrister in 1879, he obtained a seat in the New South Wales colonial parliament in 1882, and, with one interruption in 1884, held a seat in the New South Wales Parliament until Federation. He rose to become Premier of New South Wales in 1894. He supported and campaigned for Federation of the Australian colonies, though his support was interesting as it was on the basis that it was in New South Wales' interest rather than an intrinsic belief in the Australian nation.

Time as opposition leader 1901-04 to add.

Reid's short time as Prime Minister was marked by relatively few accomplishments within the framework of a stitched-together coalition with a narrow majority. His major legislative accomplishment was the passing of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act 1904, which established an industrial tribunal and began the Australian pattern of centralised wage-fixing which continued until the 1980s (and still does, for a minority of workers in a much watered-down form).

post-PM career to add.



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