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Parkes ministry (1889–1891)

Fifth Parkes ministry
26th Cabinet of the Colony of New South Wales
Premier Sir Henry Parkes and the Colony of New South Wales (1863–1900)
Date formed8 March 1889 (1889-03-08)
Date dissolved22 October 1891 (1891-10-22)
People and organisations
MonarchQueen Victoria
GovernorLord Carrington / The Earl of Jersey
PremierSir Henry Parkes
No. of ministers10
Member partyFree Trade Party
Status in legislatureMinority government
Opposition partyProtectionist Party
Opposition leaderGeorge Dibbs
PredecessorSecond Dibbs ministry
SuccessorThird Dibbs ministry

The fifth Parkes ministry was the 26th ministry of the Colony of New South Wales, and was led by the seventh Premier, Sir Henry Parkes. It was the fifth and final occasion that Parkes was Premier.[1] The title of Premier was widely used to refer to the Leader of Government, but was not a formal position in the government until 1920. Instead the Premier was appointed to another portfolio, usually Colonial Secretary.

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 4 occasions due to his personal insolvency.[a] He came to power as Premier on the first occasion in 1872, serving as Premier 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]

John Robertson served as Premier 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 the third Parkes ministry.[1] The retirement of Robertson pitted Parkes against George Dibbs and after the governments of both Dibbs and Sir Patrick Jennings faltered under public debt,[2] Parkes formed his fourth ministry, leading the newly established the Free Trade Party and holding office for nearly two years.

Parkes lost a vote on the floor of the Assembly in January 1889 and Dibbs assumed office. Parliament was dissolved on 19 January 1889 and an election was held in February. There was a significant swing to the Protectionists, gaining 29 seats,[4] however it was insufficient to command a majority of the Legislative Assembly and Parkes resumed the premiership,[2][1] where he agitated for the formation of a Commonwealth of Australia against a somewhat hostile New South Wales Colonial government. The July 1891 election saw the emergence of the Australian Labor Party, winning 35 seats, with no party having a majority. Parkes held on as Premier until October 1891 when he again lost a vote in the Legislative Assembly, causing Parkes to resign as Premier and leader of the Free Trade Party.[2][3]

Under the constitution, ministers were required to resign to recontest their seats in a by-election when appointed.[5] These by-elections were usually uncontested and on this occasion all of the ministers were re-elected unopposed.[6]

This ministry covers the period from 8 March 1889 until 22 October 1891.[1]

Composition of ministry

Portfolio Minister Party Term start Term end Term length
Colonial Secretary
Registrar of Records
Sir Henry Parkes   Free Trade 8 March 1889 22 October 1891 2 years, 228 days
Colonial Treasurer
Collector of Internal Revenue
William McMillan 27 July 1891 2 years, 141 days
Bruce Smith 14 August 1891 22 October 1891 69 days
Attorney General George Simpson QC, MLC 8 March 1889 2 years, 228 days
Secretary for Lands James Brunker
Secretary for Public Works Bruce Smith 13 August 1891 2 years, 158 days
James Young 14 August 1891 22 October 1891 69 days
Minister of Justice Albert Gould 8 March 1889 2 years, 228 days
Minister of Public Instruction Joseph Carruthers
Secretary for Mines / Secretary for Mines and Agriculture[b] Sydney Smith
Postmaster-General Daniel O'Connor[c]
Representative of the Government in Legislative Council William Suttor Jr. MLC
Vice-President of the Executive Council 30 April 1889 2 years, 175 days

Ministers were members of the Legislative Assembly unless otherwise noted.

See also


  1. ^ Henry Parkes resigned due to financial difficulties in 1856 (Sydney City), 1858 (Cumberland (North Riding)), 1870 (Kiama) and 1871 (Kiama). He would again resign due to financial difficulties in 1887 (St Leonards).
  2. ^ The title of the Secretary for Mines was changed to Secretary for Mines and Agriculture from 28 February 1890.[7]
  3. ^ Daniel O'Connor was defeated at the 1891 election for West Sydney and was appointed to the Legislative Council on 29 July 1891.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e "Part 6 Ministries since 1856" (PDF). NSW Parliamentary Record. Parliament of New South Wales. Retrieved 26 February 2021.
  2. ^ a b c d Martin, A W. "Parkes, Sir Henry (1815–96)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. National Centre of Biography, Australian National University. ISSN 1833-7538. Retrieved 26 February 2021.
  3. ^ a b Serle, Percival (1949). "Parkes, Sir Henry (1816–1896)". Dictionary of Australian Biography. Sydney: Angus & Robertson. Retrieved 26 February 2021.
  4. ^ Green, Antony. "1889 election totals". New South Wales Election Results 1856-2007. Parliament of New South Wales. Retrieved 20 September 2019.
  5. ^ Twomey, Anne (2004). The Constitution of New South Wales. Federation Press. pp. 442. ISBN 9781862875166. Retrieved 24 November 2020.
  6. ^ Green, Antony. "By-elections 1889-91". New South Wales Election Results 1856-2007. Parliament of New South Wales. Retrieved 27 June 2021.
  7. ^ "Designation of Secretary for Mines". New South Wales Government Gazette. No. 116. 28 February 1890. p. 1783. Retrieved 27 June 2021 – via Trove.


Preceded bySecond Dibbs ministry Fifth Parkes ministry 1889–1891 Succeeded byThird Dibbs ministry
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Parkes ministry (1889–1891)
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