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Richard Witty Foster

Richard Foster
Minister for Works and Railways
In office
21 December 1921 – 9 February 1923
Prime MinisterBilly Hughes
Preceded byLittleton Groom
Succeeded byPercy Stewart
Member of the Australian Parliament
for Wakefield
In office
28 August 1909 – 17 November 1928
Preceded byFrederick Holder
Succeeded byMaurice Collins
Personal details
Born(1856-08-20)20 August 1856
Goodmanham, Yorkshire, England
Died5 January 1932(1932-01-05) (aged 75)
St Peters, South Australia
Political partyLiberal (1909–17)
Nationalist (1917–28)
SpouseElizabeth Lees

Richard Witty Foster (20 August 1856 – 5 January 1932)[1] was an Australian politician. He began his career in the Parliament of South Australia (1893–1906) and served two terms as Commissioner of Public Works in liberal and conservative governments. He was elected to federal parliament in 1909 as a Liberal, later joining the Nationalists. He was Minister for Works and Railways (1921–1923) under Prime Minister Billy Hughes, eventually losing his seat at the 1928 election.

Early life

Foster was born in Goodmanham, Pocklington, Yorkshire, England and educated at Prospect House, Tockwith and apprenticed to a draper. He emigrated to South Australia in 1880 and established a business as a grocer and general provider at Quorn. He married Elizabeth Lees in September 1884. He was elected to the Corporate Town of Quorn council in 1887 and was mayor from 1890 to 1892.[2]

South Australian politics

Studio portrait of Foster by W. Hammer & Co., Adelaide

On 19 April 1893, Foster was elected to the South Australian House of Assembly as the member for Newcastle, a seat he held until Newcastle was abolished on 2 May 1902.[1] From 3 May 1902 until 2 November 1906, Foster represented Flinders.[1] He was Commissioner for Public Works from 8 December 1899 to 4 July 1904[1] and Minister for Industry from 1902 to 1904 in the liberal governments of Frederick Holder and John Jenkins. He resigned from the ministry in 1904, but still supported Jenkins until it fell in 1905 and was then Commissioner for Public Works and Minister for Agriculture in the conservative administration of Richard Butler, but lost his seat in 1906.[2]

Federal politics

Foster won the seat of Wakefield in the House of Representatives at a 1909 by-election, standing for the Liberal Party. In December 1921, he was appointed Minister for Works and Railways in the Hughes ministry, but was dropped from the ministry in February 1923 by Stanley Bruce. He refused to join the South Australian Country Party and was beaten by its candidate, Maurice Collins in the 1928 elections.[2]

Foster died in the Adelaide suburb of St Peters on 5 January 1932, survived by his wife, three daughters and a son.[2]


  1. ^ a b c d "Richard Witty Foster". Former members of the Parliament of South Australia. Retrieved 23 August 2022.
  2. ^ a b c d McDonald, D. I. (1981). "Foster, Richard Witty (1856 - 1932)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Canberra: National Centre of Biography, Australian National University. ISBN 978-0-522-84459-7. ISSN 1833-7538. OCLC 70677943. Retrieved 9 November 2007.
Civic offices Preceded byJohn Lord Mayor of Quorn 1890–1892 Succeeded byJohn Rock Parliament of South Australia Preceded byJoseph Hancock Member for Newcastle 1893-1902 Served alongside: Thomas Burgoyne Succeeded byElectorate abolished Preceded byWilliam Tennant Mortlock Member for Flinders 1902-1906 Served alongside: Thomas BurgoyneDavid McKenzie Succeeded byJohn Travers Political offices Preceded byAndrew Handyside South AustralianCommissioner of Public Works 1899 – 1904 VacantTitle next held byRichard Foster VacantTitle last held byRichard Foster South AustralianCommissioner of Public Works 1905 Succeeded byThomas Price Parliament of Australia Preceded byFrederick Holder Member for Wakefield 1909 – 1928 Succeeded byMaurice Collins Political offices Preceded byLittleton Groom Minister for Works and Railways 1921 – 1923 Succeeded byPercy Stewart
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Richard Witty Foster
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