Who's Who - Andrew Fisher

Andrew Fisher Andrew Fisher (1862-1928) served as Australia's Prime Minister on three occasions, from 1908-09, 1910-13 and 1914-15, and was in office when war was declared in August 1914, famously promising to stand by Britain to its "last man and last shilling".

Born on 29 August 1862 in Ayrshire, Scotland, Fisher started his working career at the age of nine in a goldmine.  Migrating to Queensland in 1885 he worked in Gympie (again in goldmining), thereafter becoming president of the local Miner's Association.

Elected to the Queensland Legislative Assembly in 1893 he was subsequently elected to the new federal parliament in 1901.  He served briefly in the first Labor government of 1904 before assuming the leadership of the party three years later in 1907.  He became Prime Minister in 1908 when the Alfred Deakin government fell with the withdrawal of Labor party support.

Fisher's first ministry was short in tenure; in 1909 it was replaced by a Conservative coalition until, in 1910, Fisher's Labor party won a popular victory at the polls, reinstalling him as Prime Minister.

During this term as premier Fisher passed legislation to create the Commonwealth Bank and instituted a land tax designed to break up large estates.  He also extended the Navigation Act to protect Australian shipping and established an Australian navy.  His government was further responsible for introducing maternity allowances and initiating a transcontinental railroad.

Defeated by Joseph Cook's group in 1913 Fisher was removed from office but was rapidly returned when Cook called and lost an early election the following year.

As leader of Australian during 1914 Fisher led his nation into war.  He famously pledged his country's support to its "last man and last shilling".  He was nevertheless ambivalent about the war; his enthusiastic public endorsement of Britain's entry into the war caused considerable embarrassment for his party later during the politically divisive debates concerning military conscription.

As a consequence of the strain placed upon his party by the war and especially as a result of the conscription debates Fisher resigned on 27 October 1915 and was thereafter appointed Australian High Commissioner to London.  He was succeed in office by the rather more martial Billy Hughes.

Fisher died in London on 22 October 1928 at the age of 66.

"Eggs-a-cook" were boiled eggs sold by Arab street vendors. It was later used by Anzac soldiers when going over the top.

- Did you know?

Who's Who