Andrew Fisher: Prime Minister of Australia
Dispatch: 1 day
Prime Minister Andrew Fisher was one of Australia's great nation-builders, yet his story is largely unknown. Leaving school early to work in the coalmines of Scotland, he educated himself at night, and in 1885, at the age of 22, he immigrated to Queensland. A staunch Presbyterian and fervent unionist, Fisher committed himself to politics and was soon elected to the Queensland parliament, then to the first federal parliament.
In 1908 he became prime minister for the first of three stints in the job, serving Australia for longer than John Curtin, Ben Chifley, Gough Whitlam, or Paul Keating.
As prime minister, Fisher launched a massive nation-building program, which included the establishment of the national capital, the Commonwealth Bank, old age pensions, and a transcontinental railway line. His most pressing concern was to populate and defend the new nation. To this end he famously pledged to back Britain in the Great War 'to the last man and the last shilling' - a commitment that came at the heavy cost of Gallipoli and the Western Front.
Andrew Fisher was a man who hated imperial honours, yet enjoyed the trappings of office, a leader who believed in world socialism, yet took Australians into the First World War. In this authoritative and immensely readable biography, David Day reveals the man, his politics and his remarkable legacy.