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Alfred Deakin 24 Sep 1903 2nd Prime Minister
When Edmund Barton resigned to become a judge of the High Court, his friend and deputy Prime Minister Alfred Deakin succeeded him.
Alfred Deakin 06 Oct 1903 High Court established
Sir Samuel Griffith, Sir Edmund Barton and Richard O’Connor met for the first sitting of the High Court of Australia. In 1906 HB Higgins and Sir Isaac Isaacs joined them when the Deakin government increased the bench to five. In 1913 the Fisher government gave the Court its present size of seven judges.
Alfred Deakin 16 Dec 1903 2nd federal election
House of Representatives and 19 Senate seats
Alfred Deakin 16 Dec 1903 Women stand and vote
The 1903 federal election was the first where women had the same rights as men to stand for parliament and to vote. Vida Goldstein, Nellie Martel and Mary Ann Bentley stood for the Senate. Selina Siggins stood for the seat of Dalley in the House of Representatives.
Alfred Deakin 21 Jan 1904 3rd Governor-General
Lord Northcote served as Governor-General until 9 September 1908.
Alfred Deakin 02 Mar 1904 Opening of 2nd parliament
The second parliament opened and closed with the same Prime Minister, but there were four changes of government and three different Prime Ministers between the 1903 and 1906 federal elections. This was the most unstable of Australia's 40 parliaments.
Alfred Deakin 06 Jul 1905 Prime Minister for the 2nd time
Alfred Deakin became Prime Minister for the second time, when the Reid government lost majority support in the House of Representatives.
Alfred Deakin 18 Oct 1905 Wireless communications
Enactment of the Wireless Telegraphy Act gave the Postmaster-General responsibility for radio communications. Signals had first been sent across the Atlantic, from England to the United States, four years before. In 1905 radio signals were successfully sent across Bass Strait.
Alfred Deakin 18 Jun 1906 Counting the Commonwealth
GH Knibbs was appointed head of the new Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics. Some 4.5 million people were counted in the first census on 3 April 1911. Indigenous people were first included officially in the federal census in 1971 when the population was 12.8 million.
Alfred Deakin 01 Sep 1906 Papua: a new territory
Southeastern New Guinea became the Australian territory of Papua. Britain had annexed the area in 1888, following Germany’s annexation of the northeastern region in 1884. The western half of the island had been under Dutch sovereignty since 1828.
Alfred Deakin 12 Dec 1906 1st referendum
At the third federal election, voters approved a change to Section 13 of the Constitution. This minor change adjusted the timing of Senate elections and the date senators would commence their terms of office. This was the first of eight alterations to the Australian Constitution in its first century.
Alfred Deakin 12 Dec 1906 3rd federal election
House of Representatives and 18 Senate seats
Alfred Deakin 02 Jul 1907 Trunk calls begin
The dual-line cables necessary for telephone conversations first linked the Sydney and Melbourne exchanges. The Postmaster-General’s Department completed the main trunk lines to Adelaide in 1914, to Brisbane in 1923 and to Perth in 1930. Tasmania was connected by submarine coaxial cable in 1936.
Alfred Deakin 23 Oct 1907 Women’s work on show
Some 15,000 people crowded Melbourne’s Exhibition Building for the opening of the Australian Exhibition of Women’s Work by Lady Northcote. Pattie Deakin ran the model creche. The five-week exhibition showcased the work of musicians, artists and craftswomen.
Alfred Deakin 08 Nov 1907 The Harvester case
Justice Higgins established the principle of a male basic wage in a Conciliation and Arbitration Court case. This was the only decision under a ‘new protection’ law that tied excise duties to wages. The High Court declared the law unconstitutional a year later.
Alfred Deakin 16 May 1908 Writers fund begins
The Commonwealth Literary Fund was established as a pension fund for writers in poverty. In 1939 the Menzies government, at the urging of James Scullin, transformed it into a grants scheme for writers. The Fund and its Advisory Board ceased in 1973 when they were absorbed into the new Australia Council.
Alfred Deakin 20 Aug 1908 ‘Great White Fleet’
In the first United States naval visit to Australia, a fleet of white-painted ships steamed into Sydney Harbour. Their four-month tour of Australian ports was part of a lengthy promotional voyage arranged by US President Theodore Roosevelt.
Alfred Deakin 09 Sep 1908 4th Governor-General
Lord Dudley served as Governor-General to 31 July 1911. Lord Chelmsford was acting Governor-General from 21 January 1909 to 27 January 1910.
Alfred Deakin 02 Jun 1909 Prime Minister for the 3rd time
Alfred Deakin became Prime Minister for the third time after negotiating the ‘fusion’ of members from the three non-Labor political groups in the House of Representatives.
Alfred Deakin 13 Dec 1909 Military training
The Commonwealth Defence Act became law. It provided for the compulsory military training scheme that began on 1 January 1911, and for the establishment of the Royal Military College at Duntroon, Canberra, on 27 June 1911.
Alfred Deakin 13 Dec 1909 High Commissioner
The Act establishing a High Commission in London became law. A month later GH Reid became Australia’s first High Commissioner. During his term the building of Australia House commenced. Reid was also closely involved in ordering the vessels for Australia's first naval fleet.
Alfred Deakin 13 Apr 1910 4th federal election
House of Representatives and 18 Senate seats
Alfred Deakin 13 Apr 1910 Referendum
Voters at the fourth federal election approved the second alteration to the Constitution. This was a minor change to Commonwealth-State arrangements for public debts under Section 105. A second proposal, to amend Section 87 (the ‘Braddon Clause’), was not carried.