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Parkes ministry (1878–1883)

Third Parkes ministry
19th Cabinet of the Colony of New South Wales
Premier Henry Parkes and the Colony of New South Wales (1863–1900)
Date formed21 December 1878 (1878-12-21)
Date dissolved4 January 1883 (1883-01-04)
People and organisations
MonarchQueen Victoria
GovernorHercules Robinson / Lord Augustus Loftus
Head of governmentHenry Parkes
No. of ministers10
Member partyunaligned
Status in legislatureMinority government
Opposition partyunaligned
Opposition leaderAlexander Stuart
PredecessorFarnell ministry
SuccessorStuart ministry

The third Parkes ministry was the nineteenth ministry of the Colony of New South Wales, and was led by Sir Henry Parkes in a coalition with Sir John Robertson. It was the third of five occasions that Parkes was Leader of the Government.[1]

Having served in the New South Wales Legislative Council between 1854 and 1856, Parkes was elected in the first free elections for the New South Wales Legislative Assembly held in 1856, however resigned from Parliament later that year. He served in the Assembly on several occasions, between 1858 and 1870, being forced to resign on at least one occasion due to his personal insolvency. He came to power as Premier on the first occasion in 1872, serving as Leader of the Government for a period of three years. However, Parkes lost the confidence of the Assembly following Governor Robinson's decision to release of the bushranger Frank Gardiner led to the defeat of the ministry in 1875.[2]

Robertson served as Leader of the Government between 1875 and 1877, before Robertson was defeated at the 1877 election. Parkes formed his second ministry in a challenging environment where both Parkes and Robertson shared equal representation in the Legislative Assembly and business was sometimes at a standstill.[3] Parkes' second term as Colonial Premier lasted just 147 days, with the Farnell ministry giving both Parkes and Robertson reprieve for 12 months, prior to Parkes and Robertson forming an alliance government in this ministry.[1]

The title of Premier was widely used to refer to the Leader of Government, but not enshrined in formal use until 1920.

There was no party system in New South Wales politics until 1887.[4] Under the constitution, ministers in the Legislative Assembly were required to resign to recontest their seats in a by-election when appointed.[5] Such ministerial by-elections were usually uncontested and on this occasion a poll was required for Canterbury where Sir Henry Parkes was easily re-elected with more than 90% of the vote and The Lachlan where James Watson was re-elected. The 5 other ministers, James Hoskins (The Tumut), Francis Suttor (Bathurst), William Windeyer (University of Sydney), John Lackey (Central Cumberland) and Ezekiel Baker (Goldfields South), were re-elected unopposed.[6] The 3 ministers subsequently appointed, Robert Wisdom (Morpeth), Arthur Renwick (East Sydney) and William Foster (Newtown), were also re-elected unopposed.[6][7]

In 1880 the portfolio of Justice and Public Instruction was split into the portfolios of Justice and Public Instruction following the passage of the Public Instruction Act of 1880 which required a minister to assume the responsibilities of the former Council of Education.[8][9]

The ministry was engulfed in a scandal in 1881. Ezekiel Baker resigned as Secretary for Mines in August 1881 following allegations concerning his conduct as a trustee of the Milburn Creek Copper Mining Co Ltd. Julian Salomons was appointed a royal commissioner to inquire into inquire into the expenditure and distribution of £17,100, paid by the Government, under the authority of a Parliamentary vote, to the company. Salomons reported that "there was an appropriation by the trustees to themselves ... but under circumstances of concealment and false statement" and that there was an inference that one of the trustees, George Waddell, had bribed a member of the Legislative Assembly, Thomas Garrett, to vote in favour of the payment.[10] Following publication of the report, on 8 November Parkes moved that Baker was guilty "of conduct unworthy of a member of this House, and seriously reflecting upon the honour and dignity of Parliament", a motion that was carried by 71 votes to 2 and the assembly then voted to expel Baker.[11][12] Two days later Parkes moved a similar motion in relation to Garrett, however the motion was defeated by 40 votes to 38.[13] This was the end of the coalition between Parkes and Robertson, with Robertson resigning from the ministry because he could not consent to being one of the accusers of Mr Baker and Mr Garrett, and their cases should have been decided in a court of law.[12][13]

This ministry covers the period from 21 December 1878 until 4 January 1883.[1]

Composition of ministry

Portfolio Minister Term start Term end Term length
Colonial Secretary
Sir Henry Parkes 21 December 1878 4 January 1883 4 years, 14 days
Secretary for Lands James Hoskins 28 December 1881 3 years, 7 days
Sir John Robertson[a]. 29 December 1881 4 January 1883 1 year, 6 days
Colonial Treasurer James Watson 21 December 1878 4 years, 14 days
Minister of Justice and Public Instruction Francis Suttor 30 April 1880 1 year, 131 days
Minister of Justice 1 May 1880 10 August 1880 101 days
Sir Joseph Innes MLC 11 August 1880 13 October 1881 63 days
William Foster 14 October 1881 4 January 1883 1 year, 82 days
Minister of Public Instruction Sir John Robertson MLC 1 May 1880 10 November 1881 1 year, 193 days
Francis Suttor 14 November 1881 4 January 1883 1 year, 51 days
Attorney General William Windeyer 21 December 1878 10 August 1879 232 days
Robert Wisdom 13 August 1879 4 January 1883 3 years, 231 days
Secretary for Public Works John Lackey 21 December 1878 4 years, 14 days
Postmaster-General Saul Samuel MLC 10 August 1880 1 year, 233 days
Francis Suttor 11 August 1880 13 November 1881 94 days
Stephen Brown MLC 14 November 1881 22 August 1882 281 days
Alexander Campbell MLC 30 August 1882 4 January 1883 127 days
Secretary for Mines Ezekiel Baker 21 December 1878 11 October 1881 2 years, 294 days
Arthur Renwick 12 October 1881 4 January 1883 1 year, 84 days
Vice-President of the Executive Council
Representative of the Government in Legislative Council
Sir John Robertson MLC 21 December 1878 10 November 1881 2 years, 324 days
Frederick Darley MLC 14 November 1881 4 January 1883 1 year, 51 days

Ministers are members of the Legislative Assembly unless otherwise noted.

  1. ^ Sir John Robertson resigned from the Legislative Council on 31 December 1881 to return to the Legislative Assembly in the Mudgee by-election on 13 January 1882

See also


  1. ^ a b c "Part 6 Ministries since 1856" (PDF). NSW Parliamentary Record. Parliament of New South Wales. Retrieved 26 February 2021.
  2. ^ Martin, A W. "Parkes, Sir Henry (1815–96)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Canberra: National Centre of Biography, Australian National University. ISBN 978-0-522-84459-7. ISSN 1833-7538. OCLC 70677943. Retrieved 26 February 2021.
  3. ^ Serle, Percival (1949). "Parkes, Sir Henry (1816–1896)". Dictionary of Australian Biography. Sydney: Angus & Robertson. Retrieved 26 February 2021.
  4. ^ Green, Antony (20 October 2010). "Centenary of the First NSW Labor Government". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Archived from the original on 10 March 2012.
  5. ^ Twomey, Anne (2004). The Constitution of New South Wales. Federation Press. pp. 442. ISBN 9781862875166. Retrieved 24 November 2020.
  6. ^ a b Green, Antony. "By-elections 1877-80". New South Wales Election Results 1856-2007. Parliament of New South Wales. Retrieved 23 February 2021.
  7. ^ Green, Antony. "By-elections 1880-82". New South Wales Election Results 1856-2007. Parliament of New South Wales. Retrieved 5 March 2021.
  8. ^ "PFO-6 Justice". NSW State Records & Archives. Retrieved 29 December 2020.
  9. ^ Public Instruction Act of 1880 (nsw)
  10. ^ "The Milburn Creek Inquiry". The Sydney Morning Herald. 4 November 1881. p. 7. Retrieved 5 March 2021 – via Trove.
  11. ^ "Legislative Assembly: the Milburn Creek award". The Sydney Morning Herald. 9 November 1881. p. 2. Retrieved 5 March 2021 – via Trove.
  12. ^ a b Clune, David & Griffith, Gareth (2006). Decision and Deliberation. pp. 30-31. ISBN 9781862875913. Retrieved 8 January 2021.
  13. ^ a b "Legislative Assembly". The Sydney Morning Herald. 12 November 1881. p. 5. Retrieved 5 March 2021 – via Trove.


Preceded byFarnell ministry Third Parkes ministry 1878–1883 Succeeded byStuart ministry
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Parkes ministry (1878–1883)
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