• Publication Date: October 19, 2006
  • EAN: 9781862876019
  • 420 pages; 6" x 8⅝"

The Victorian Premiers



Product Description

In the century and a half since Victoria was granted responsible government in 1856, 44 premiers have presided over the state and colony, from ‘Honest’ William Haines to Steve Bracks. Here is their story.

For the first time this book brings together a comprehensive collection of biographical and political portraits of the Victorian premiers written by leading Australian historians and political scientists. The result is a compelling journey through a turbulent, occasionally anarchic, political landscape. A cast of fascinating characters is brought to life—the mercurial Graham Berry, who in the 1870s threatened broken heads and flaming houses in his heroic struggle to tame the colony’s intractably conservative upper house; the roguish Tommy Bent, the turn of the century ‘can do’ premier whose development enthusiasms were unhindered by probities of office; the bohemian Tom Hollway, who conducted Victoria’s affairs from his suite in the Windsor Hotel; the ‘accidental’ leader Henry Bolte, who became Victoria’s longest serving premier; and the larrikin metropolitan, Jeff Kennett, who turned the state into a neo-liberal laboratory in the 1990s.

A tale of premiers, the book is also a narrative of politics in a state that has vied with New South Wales as Australia’s most prosperous and powerful. It recounts many extraordinary episodes: the precocious development of democracy in a fledgling colony turned upside down by gold immigrants; the titanic bicameral struggles of the 1860s and 1870s that brought Victoria to the brink of insurrection; the bank crashes of the 1890s; the police strike of 1923; the great Labor split of the 1950s; the hanging of Ronald Ryan in 1967; the social democratic adventurism of the Labor decade of the 1980s brought to a shuddering halt by another era of financial collapses; and the neo-liberal experimentalism of the Kennett government. This carefully researched and engagingly written book will leave the reader in no doubt that politics in the ‘Garden State’ has seldom been sedate and its premiers rarely predictable.

Introduction: Premiers and politics, 1856-2006

Paul Strangio and Brian Costar

Haines, O’Shanassy, Nicholson and Heales: The old guard, 1855-1863

John Waugh

“The inevitable McCulloch” and his rivals, 1863-1877

John Waugh

Broken heads and flaming houses: Graham Berry, the wild colonial

Paul Strangio

Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde? Service and Gillies: The grand coalition premiers 1883-1890

John Lack

David Syme and the three stooges? The bust premiers: James Munro, William Shiels and JB Patterson, 1890-1894

John Lack

The quiet little man in a brown suit: George Turner and the politics of consensus

John Rickard

“Iceberg” Irvine and the politics of anti-Labor

John Rickard

Tommy Bent, ‘a man’

Weston Bate

John Murray and William Watt: The odd couple

David Dunstan

Alexander Peacock: The laughing pragmatist

John Chesterman

Harry Lawson, sure and steady

Margaret Fitzherbert

Elmslie, Prendergast and Hogan: Labouring against the tide

Peter Love

John Allan: The first agrarian

Brian Costar

William McPherson, ‘threepenny’ premier and philanthropist

Richard Allsop

Stanley Argyle: The incidental premier

Geoff Browne

Albert Dunstan: The jumping jack premier

Brian Costar

Tom Hollway: The bohemian

Brian Costar

John McDonald: A remorseful premier

Brian Costar

John Cain snr: The star-crossed premier

Paul Strangio

Henry Bolte: The lucky developer

David Dunstan

Rupert ‘Dick’ Hamer: The urbane liberal

Paul Rodan

Lindsay Thompson: The team player

Vicki Peel

John Cain jnr: The burden of history

Paul Strangio

Joan Kirner: The first feminist

Jennifer Curtin

Jeff Kennett: The larrikin metropolitan

Nick Economou

Steve Bracks: The quiet achiever

David Hayward


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