Sir Thomas Bent was an Australian politician and the 22nd Premier of Victoria. He was one of the most corrupt politicians in Victorian history. Bent was born in Penrith, New South Wales the eldest of four sons and two daughters of James Bent, a hotel-keeper, he came to Melbourne with his parents in 1849. He went to school in the Melbourne suburb of Fitzroy becoming a market-gardener in East Brighton. In 1861 he became a rate collector for the town council of Brighton a fast-growing suburb, he soon began buying and selling land in Brighton, became a property developer in new areas close by, such as Moorabbin. He developed the suburb of Bentleigh, named after himself, he was Mayor of Brighton nine times. In 1871 Bent was elected to the Victorian Legislative Assembly for the district of Brighton, defeating the veteran liberal George Higinbotham "to the amazement of every one", he had no particular party loyalties and first held office in the Service government in 1880. He was Commissioner for Works and Railways in Sir Bryan O'Loghlen's government in 1881–1883, used this position to extend the railway line from Caulfield to Cheltenham, thus enormously increasing the value of his own property developments.
His lifelong reputation for corruption dates from this period. The exposure of Bent's dealings led to the defeat of O'Loghlen's government at the 1883 elections. After this debacle Bent spent 18 years on the backbench, his fortunes suffered a reversal in 1888 when a bad investment in Ringwood caused the collapse of the Thomas Bent Land Co. but he soon recovered and became a leading player in the great Land Boom that reached its climax in 1890. For instance, in 1884 Bent purchased property in Exhibition Street for 1488 pounds and on the same day resold it for 2000 pounds. In 1892 he surprised his critics by being elected Speaker as part of a complex political deal. A newspaper asked: "Why is Speaker Bent the first commoner in the land? Because no-one commoner than Bent can be found." There was an element of snobbery in this. Bent was the first Victorian Premier with a strong Australian accent, was held in contempt by the Anglo-Scottish Melbourne establishment. In the severe crash that followed the boom Bent was bankrupted, with debts of 80,000 pounds.
He had transferred many of his assets to his wife's name and this saved him from bankruptcy. At the election which followed the fall of James Patterson's government, Bent was defeated at Brighton, his fate was sealed when The Age published letters Bent had written as Railways Minister in 1881, offering MPs railways lines in their electorates in exchange for their votes. Bent moved with his wife Elizabeth and their two daughters to Port Fairy, where he took up dairy farming, but he had not given up his political ambitions. In 1897 he unsuccessfully stood for Port Fairy in 1900 he moved back to Melbourne, at the November 1900 election he was re-elected for Brighton, he completed his comeback by becoming once again Minister for Railways in William Irvine's conservative government. He was soon up to his old tricks, buying land in Brighton and approving a tramline from St Kilda to Brighton that led right past his properties. Despite his reputation, Bent was chosen as the new Liberal leader in Victoria when Irvine quit to go into federal politics in 1904, thus became Premier at the age of 66.
By this time Bent had grown fat and his jovial manner, together with Victoria's gradual recovery from the 1890s depression, gained him renewed popularity. In addition to being premier, Bent had the portfolios of public railways. Much legislation was passed relating to improvements in public health, old age pensions, water conservation. At the June 1904 elections he won a comfortable majority, did so again in 1907, his government favoured more state intervention in the economy than had 19th century liberal governments, there was now agreement on the need for high tariffs to protect Victorian industry. His greatest boast was that he restored prosperity to Victoria. During 1908, Bent's government began to disintegrate as a result of conflict between country and city interests—a perennial problem for non-Labor governments in Victoria. A bloc of country members led by John Murray opposed Bent's Land Valuation Bill, to appease them Bent withdrew the bill and appointed several of Murray's supporters to the ministry.
But this antagonised Melbourne Liberals led by William Watt, in January 1909 the various dissidents united to defeat Bent in the Assembly. Bent resigned and Murray became Premier. Bent died on 17 September 1909 at his home in Brighton, he had been made a Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George in 1908. He was buried in Brighton Cemetery, he was married twice, to Miss Huntley. His estate was valued at 35,000 pounds, most of this went to his daughter from his second marriage. A statue of Bent was erected in 1913 on the Nepean Brighton. For many years "Tommy Bent's statue" was a well-known Melbourne landmark, which, at the time of the Victorian Football League grand final, would be decorated with a cap and scarf in the colours of the team that won the premiership. In the late 1960s the statue was defaced by a bucket of white paint—perhaps a local New Year's Eve prank; the widening of the highway in the 1970s led to the statue being moved to a less prominent location near Bay Street, where it still is.
Serle, Percival. "Bent, Thomas". Dictionary of Australian
Ballarat is a city located on the Yarrowee River in the Central Highlands of Victoria, Australia. The city has a population of 101,588. In terms of population Ballarat is the third largest inland city in Australia. Just months after Victoria was granted separation from the state of New South Wales, the Victorian gold rush transformed Ballarat from a small sheep station to a major settlement. Gold was discovered on 18 August 1851, news spread of rich alluvial fields where gold could be extracted. Unlike many other gold boom towns, the Ballarat fields experienced sustained high gold yields for many decades, which can be evidenced to this day in the city's rich architecture; the city is famous in Australia for the Eureka Rebellion, the only armed rebellion in Australian history. In response to this event the first male suffrage in Australia was instituted and as such Eureka is interpreted by some as the origin of democracy in Australia; the rebellion's symbol, the Eureka Flag, has become a national symbol and is held at the Museum of Australian Democracy at Eureka in Ballarat.
Proclaimed a city in 1871, its prosperity continued until late in the 19th century, after which its importance relative to both Melbourne and Geelong faded with the slowing of gold extraction. It has endured as a major regional centre hosting the rowing and kayaking events from the 1956 Summer Olympics, it is the commercial capital of the Central Highlands and its largest city, as well as a significant tourist destination. Ballarat is known for its history and its well-preserved Victorian era heritage, with much of the city subject to heritage overlays. After a narrow popular vote the city merged with the town of Ballarat East in 1921, ending a long-standing rivalry. While a part of the Central Highlands of Victoria, Ballarat is part of the Midlands geological region. More it is situated on the Central Victorian Uplands. Although significant deposits of gold have been mined in the area and mining continues to this day Ballarat is not part of Victoria's Goldfields region. Prior to the European settlement of Australia, the Ballarat region was populated by the Wathaurong people, an Indigenous Australian people.
The Boro gundidj tribe's territory was based along the Yarrowee River. The first Europeans to sight the area were an 1837 party of six Scottish squatters from Geelong, led by Somerville Learmonth, who were in search of land less affected by the severe drought for their sheep to graze; the party scaled Mount Buninyong. The Yuille family, Scottish settlers Archibald Buchanan Yuille and his brother William Cross Yuille, arrived in 1837 and squatted a 10,000-acre sheep run; the first houses were built near Woolshed Creek by William Yuille and Anderson, while Yuille erected a hut at Black Swamp in 1838. Outsiders knew of the settlement as Yuille's Station and Yuille's Swamp. Archibald Yuille named the area "Ballaarat"; some claim the name is derived from a local Wathaurong Aboriginal word for balla arat. The meaning of this word is not certain. In some dialects, balla means "bent elbow", translated to mean reclining or resting and arat meaning "place". Another claim is that the name derives from Yuille's native Gaelic Baile Ararat, alluding to the resting place of Noah's Ark.
The present spelling was adopted by the City of Ballarat in 1996. The first publicised discovery of gold in the region was by Thomas Hiscock on 2 August 1851 in the Buninyong region to the south; the find brought other prospectors to the area and on 19 August 1851 John Dunlop and James Regan struck gold at Poverty Point with a few ounces. Within days of the announcement of Dunlop and Regan's find a gold rush began, bringing thousands of prospectors to the Yarrowee valley which became known as the Ballarat diggings. Yields were high, with the first prospectors in the area extracting between half an ounce and up to five ounces of alluvial gold per day; as news of the Australian gold rushes reached the world, Ballarat gained an international reputation as a rich goldfield. As a result, a huge influx of immigrants occurred, including many from Ireland and China, gathering in a collection of prospecting shanty towns around the creeks and hills. In just a few months numerous alluvial runs were established, several deep mining leads began, the population had swelled to over 1,000 people.
The first post office opened on 1 November 1851. It was the first Victorian post office. Parts of the district were first surveyed by William Urquhart as early as October 1851. By 1852 his grid plan and wide streets for land sales in the new township of West Ballarat, built upon a plateau of basalt, contrasted markedly with the existing narrow unplanned streets and gullies of the original East Ballarat settlement; the new town's main streets of the time were named in honour of police commissioners and gold commissioners of the time, with the main street, Sturt Street, named after Evelyn Pitfield Shirley Sturt. These officials were based at the government encampment, strategically positioned on an escarpment with an optimal view over the district's digg
Nationalist Party (Australia)
The Nationalist Party was an Australian political party. It was formed on 17 February 1917 from a merger between the conservative Commonwealth Liberal Party and the National Labor Party, the latter formed by Prime Minister Billy Hughes and his supporters after the 1916 Labor Party split over World War I conscription; the Nationalist Party was in government until electoral defeat in 1929. From that time it was the main opposition to the Labor Party until it merged with pro-Joseph Lyons Labor defectors to form the United Australia Party in 1931; the UAP was the immediate predecessor to the current Liberal Party of Australia, the main centre-right party in Australia. In October 1915 the Australian Prime Minister, Andrew Fisher of the Australian Labor Party, retired. Hughes was a strong supporter of Australia's participation in World War I, after a visit to Britain in 1916, where the Military Service Act 1916 had been passed earlier in the year, he became convinced that conscription was necessary if Australia was to sustain its contribution to the war effort.
A majority of his party, most notably Roman Catholics and trade union representatives, was opposed to this given the British government's reprisals against the Irish Easter Rising of 1916. In October Hughes held a plebiscite to try to gain approval for conscription, but the proposition was narrowly defeated. Daniel Mannix, the Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne, was his main opponent on the conscription issue; the defeat did not deter Hughes. This produced a bitter split within the Australian public, as well as within his own party; the extent to which he engineered this split has been hotly debated since, was at the time regarded as ironic by many in the Labor movement, given Hughes' violent hostility to earlier Labor dissidents like Joseph Cook. On 15 September 1916 the New South Wales executive of the Political Labour League expelled Hughes from the Labor Party; when the parliamentary Labor caucus met on 14 November 1916, lengthy discussions took place until Hughes walked out with 24 other Labor members.
The remaining 43 members of the caucus passed a motion of no confidence in the leadership expelling Hughes and his allies. Hughes and his followers rebranded themselves as the "National Labor Party," and continued in office as a minority government with support from Cook and his Commonwealth Liberal Party. With the war dragging on, Hughes began negotiations with Cook to turn their confidence-and-supply agreement into formal party unity; that February, at the urging of the Governor-General, Sir Robert Munro Ferguson, the two groups formally merged to form the Nationalist Party, with Hughes as leader and Cook as deputy leader. The new party was dominated by former Liberals, as such was an upper- and middle-class party. However, the presence of many former Labor men—many of whom had been early leaders in that party—allowed the Nationalists to project an image of national unity. In May 1917 the Nationalists won a huge electoral victory, formed what was at the time the biggest majority government since Federation.
The size of the landslide was magnified by the large number of Labor MPs who followed Hughes into the Nationalist Party. At this election Hughes abandoned his working-class division of West Sydney, was elected for Bendigo in Victoria, he had promised to resign. A second plebiscite on conscription was held in December 1917, but the proposition was again defeated, this time by a wider margin. Hughes, after receiving a vote of confidence in his leadership by his party, resigned as Prime Minister. However, with no alternative candidates available, Ferguson used his reserve power to re-commission Hughes as Prime Minister. Hughes was thus able to remain in office. Hughes and the Nationalists governed on their own until the elections of 1922, when the newly emerged Country Party gained the balance of power in the House of Representatives; the Nationalists could not govern without Country Party support, it was obvious that a confidence-and-supply agreement would not be enough to keep the Nationalists in office.
However, the Country Party had never liked Hughes' rural policy, its leader Earle Page let it be known that he would not serve under him. Several of the more conservative elements of the Nationalist Party had only tolerated Hughes after the war, suspecting he was still a socialist at heart. Page's demand gave them an excuse to dump Hughes, forced to resign in January 1923. Former Treasurer Stanley Bruce was chosen as leader, entered into a coalition with the Country Party; the price, was high: five seats for the Country Party in cabinet, with Page as Treasurer and number-two man in the government. Such demands were unheard of for such a young party in a Westminster system. However, Bruce agreed to the terms rather than force another election; this was the start of the traditional coalition of non-Labor parties. With the ouster of Hughes, the Nationalists took on a decidedly more conservative hue. Despite initial concerns that Australians wouldn't support the aloof Bruce, the Nationalist-Country coalition won a great victory in the federal election of 1925.
It was re-elected in 1928, though with a reduced mandate. However, only a year Hughes led a group of backbenchers to cross the floor on a vote on Bruce's plans to reform the industrial arbitration system. In the subsequent election the Coalition was defeated, s
William Irvine (Australian politician)
Sir William Hill Irvine, GCMG, Irish born-Australian politician and judge, was the 21st Premier of Victoria. Irvine was born in Newry in County Down, into a Scottish-Presbyterian family, he was educated at the Royal School and Trinity College, graduating in law in 1879 before migrating to Melbourne, where he taught in Presbyterian schools and read law at Melbourne University, gaining a master's degree in arts and law. He soon became a leading Melbourne barrister. In 1894, Irvine was elected to the Victorian Legislative Assembly as a liberal, he was Attorney-General 1899–1900 and 1902–03 and Solicitor-General in 1903. He succeeded George Turner as leader of the Victorian Liberals, but was much more conservative than either Turner or the federal Protectionist Party leader, Alfred Deakin. In 1902 he displaced the more liberal Alexander Peacock and became Premier and Treasurer, holding office until 1904, when he was succeeded by Thomas Bent. In 1906, Irvine was elected to the Australian House of Representatives for the seat of Flinders.
First elected as an independent Protectionist, he became a member of Deakin's Commonwealth Liberal Party in 1908. He was Attorney-General in Joseph Cook's Liberal government of 1913–14, he was considered a potential Prime Minister of Australia, but his abrupt manner and hard-line conservatism made him unacceptable to many Liberals: he was known in Parliament as "Iceberg Irvine." Recognising this, Irvine accepted the appointment as the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Victoria, the highest ranking court in the Australian State of Victoria. He held this position from 1918 until 1935, he was knighted KCMG in 1914 and made GCMG in 1936. A keen motorist, he was a founding member of the Royal Automobile Club of Victoria and was its patron from 1938 through 1943. In 1932 a painting of Irvine by Ernest Buckmaster won the Archibald Prize, Australia's best-known portrait prize. On appointment 10 June 1902: Premier and Attorney-General: William Irvine Treasurer: William Shiels Solicitor-General: John Mark Davies Minister of Railways: Thomas Bent Minister of Education and Health: Robert Reid Minister of Public Works and Agriculture: Mr. Taverner President of Board of Lands: Mr. McKenzie Minister of Mines: Mr. Cameron Chief Secretary and Minister of Labour: Mr. Murray Judiciary of Australia List of Judges of the Supreme Court of Victoria Geoff Browne, A Biographical Register of the Victorian Parliament, 1900–84, Government Printer, Melbourne, 1985 Don Garden, Victoria: A History, Thomas Nelson, Melbourne, 1984 Kathleen Thompson and Geoffrey Serle, A Biographical Register of the Victorian Parliament, 1856–1900, Australian National University Press, Canberra, 1972 Raymond Wright, A People's Counsel.
A History of the Parliament of Victoria, 1856–1990, Oxford University Press, Melbourne, 1992 Supreme Court of Victoria Website
George Turner (Australian politician)
Sir George Turner, Australian politician, was the 18th Premier of Victoria and the first Treasurer of Australia in the federal Barton Ministry. Turner was born in Melbourne: he was the first Premier of Victoria born in the colony, he received a sound education and began work as a clerk in a law office, matriculating in 1872 and being admitted to practise as a solicitor in 1881. He was a founding member of the Australian Natives' Association, an influential lobby group of Australian-born political liberals who campaigned for Australian federation and other causes, he was a member of the town council in St Kilda and was mayor in 1887–1888. A liberal, Turner was elected to the Victorian Legislative Assembly for St Kilda in 1889, he was Minister of Health and Solicitor-General in the liberal government of William Shiels from 1891–1893. When Shiels was defeated by the conservatives under James Patterson in 1893, he went into opposition, succeeded Shiels as leader of the liberal party – because Alfred Deakin, the colony's leading liberal, refused the position.
At the September 1894 election the Patterson government, floundering in the face of the deep depression which followed the Crash of 1892, was defeated. Turner's image as a modest, dependable suburban solicitor proved popular, he gained the support of the newly formed Labour Party, which won 17 seats in 1894; as well as Premier, Turner was Treasurer, Minister for Defence and Vice-President of the Board of Land and Works. The Turner Ministry of 1894 included John Gavan Duffy and Isaac Isaacs. Turner imposed a policy of strict economy and balanced budgets, raising taxes and cutting spending in accordance with the economic theory of the time. Although these policies did little to relieve the effects of the 1892 Depression, they did restore confidence in Victoria's public finances and the banking system; the historian Don Garden describes Turner as "frugal, prudent and self-sacrificing," an image in tune with the depressed economy. His policies of cutting government spending caused increased unemployment, but were accepted as necessary.
His government was re-elected at the 1897 election. In other areas Turner's government was more liberal, he persuaded the Legislative Council to accept the abolition of plural voting, tried unsuccessfully to pass a bill giving votes to women. He introduced Victoria's first scheme of old-age pensions, together with the Victorian wages boards; this latter measure was considered to be his greatest accomplishment, which aimed to combat sweating and poverty together with reforming the hours and working conditions in shops and factories. He was made a Privy Councillor and a Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George in 1897. In December 1899 discontented radicals joined with the conservative opposition to defeat Turner's government in the Assembly, he resigned, he was succeeded by the conservative leader Allan McLean, but Mclean was unable to consolidate his position, at elections in November 1900 the liberals were returned and Turner again became Premier. He retained office until February 1901.
Turner was elected to the first Australian House of Representatives in 1901 as a Protectionist member for the Division of Balaclava. His long experience in Victoria made him a natural choice to be Treasurer in the first federal ministry under Edmund Barton, he held this post from January 1901 under Barton and Deakin until April 1904, again in George Reid's conservative government in 1904–1905. His acceptance of office under Reid offended the Deakinite liberals, he was not re-appointed to Deakin's second ministry in 1905, he retired from politics in 1906, served as Chairman of the Commissioners of the State Savings Bank of Victoria until his death in 1916. A sign on the median strip of Brighton Road, close to the western border of the Melbourne suburb of Balaclava, denotes the location as the "Sir G. Turner Reserve". A suburb in Australia's capital city, Canberra is named after George Turner. Australian Commonwealth ministries 1901-2004 Geoff Browne, A Biographical Register of the Victorian Parliament, 1900–84, Government Printer, Melbourne, 1985 Don Garden, Victoria: A History, Thomas Nelson, Melbourne, 1984 Kathleen Thompson and Geoffrey Serle, A Biographical Register of the Victorian Parliament, 1856–1900, Australian National University Press, Canberra, 1972 Raymond Wright, A People's Counsel.
A History of the Parliament of Victoria, 1856–1990, Oxford University Press, Melbourne, 1992 Ross McMullin, The Light on the Hill: The Australian Labor Party 1891–1991
Federation of Australia
The Federation of Australia was the process by which the six separate British self-governing colonies of Queensland, New South Wales, Tasmania, South Australia, Western Australia agreed to unite and form the Commonwealth of Australia, establishing a system of federalism in Australia. Fiji and New Zealand were part of this process, but they decided not to join the federation. Following federation, the six colonies that united to form the Commonwealth of Australia as states kept the systems of government that they had developed as separate colonies, but they agreed to have a federal government, responsible for matters concerning the whole nation; when the Constitution of Australia came into force, on 1 January 1901, the colonies collectively became states of the Commonwealth of Australia. The efforts to bring about federation in the mid-19th century were dogged by the lack of popular support for the movement. A number of conventions were held during the 1890s to develop a constitution for the Commonwealth.
Sir Henry Parkes, Premier of New South Wales, was instrumental in this process. Sir Edmund Barton, second only to Parkes in the length of his commitment to the federation cause, was the caretaker Prime Minister of Australia at the inaugural national election in 1901 in March 1901; the election returned Barton as prime minister, though without a majority. This period has lent its name to an architectural style prevalent in Australia at that time, known as Federation architecture, or Federation style. A serious movement for Federation of the colonies arose in the late 1880s, a time when there was increasing nationalism amongst Australians, the great majority of whom were native-born; the idea of being "Australian" began to be celebrated in poems. This was fostered by improvements in transport and communications, such as the establishment of a telegraph system between the colonies in 1872; the Australian colonies were influenced by other federations which had emerged around the world, such as the United States and Canada.
Sir Henry Parkes Colonial Secretary of New South Wales, first proposed a Federal Council body in 1867. After it was rejected by the British Secretary of State for the Colonies, the Duke of Buckingham, Parkes brought up the issue again in 1880, this time as the Premier of New South Wales. At the conference, representatives from Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia considered a number of issues including federation, Chinese immigration, vine diseases and uniform tariff rates; the Federation had the potential to ensure that throughout the continent and interstate commerce would be unaffected by protectionism and measurement and transport would be standardised. The final push for a Federal Council came at an Intercolonial Convention in Sydney in November and December 1883; the trigger was the British rejection of Queensland's unilateral annexation of New Guinea and the British Government wish to see a federalised Australasia. The convention was called to debate the strategies needed to counter the activities of the German and French in New Guinea and in New Hebrides.
Sir Samuel Griffith, the Premier of Queensland, drafted a bill to constitute the Federal Council. The conference petitioned the Imperial Parliament to enact the bill as the Federal Council of Australasia Act 1885; as a result, a Federal Council of Australasia was formed, to represent the affairs of the colonies in their relations with the South Pacific islands. New South Wales and New Zealand did not join; the self-governing colonies of Queensland and Victoria, as well as the Crown Colonies of Western Australia and Fiji, became involved. South Australia was a member between 1888 and 1890; the Federal Council had powers to legislate directly upon certain matters, such as in relation to extradition, regulation of fisheries, so on, but it did not have a permanent secretariat, executive powers, or any revenue of its own. Furthermore, the absence of the powerful colony of New South Wales weakened its representative value, it was the first major form of inter-colonial co-operation. It provided an opportunity for Federalists from around the country to exchange ideas.
The means by which the Council was established endorsed the continuing role that the Imperial Parliament would have in the development of Australia's constitutional structure. In terms of the Federal Council of Australia Act, the Australian drafters established a number of powers dealing with their "common interest" which would be replicated in the Australian Constitution section 51; the individual colonies, Victoria excepted, were somewhat wary of Federation. Politicians from the smaller colonies, in particular, disliked the idea of delegating power to a national government. Queensland, for its part, worried that the advent of race-based national legislation would restrict the importing of kanaka labourers, thereby jeopardising its sugar cane industry; these were not the only concerns of those resistant to federation. Smaller colonies worried about the abolition of tariffs, which would deprive them of a large proportion of their revenue, leave their commerce at the mercy of the larger states.
New South Wales, traditionally free-trade in its outlook, wanted to be satisfied that the federation's tariff policy would not be protectionist. Victorian Premier James Service described fiscal union as "the lion in the way" of federation. A further fundamental issue was how to distribute the excess customs duties from the central government to the states. For the larger colonies there was the possibility (which never became
Maurice McCrae Blackburn was an Australian politician and socialist lawyer, noted for his protection of the interests of workers and the establishment of the legal firm known as Maurice Blackburn. Blackburn was born in Inglewood, Victoria, to Maurice Blackburn, a bank manager, his wife Thomasann Cole, daughter of Captain Alexander McCrae. Following the death of his father in 1887, Blackburn and his mother moved to Melbourne where he was educated at Melbourne Grammar School, matriculating in 1896. After completing school, he attended the University of Melbourne, graduating in arts and law in 1909, began to practice as a lawyer a year later. In the same year, he became a member of the Victorian Socialist Party and was soon editing its newspaper, The Socialist. In about 1908, he joined the Australian Labor Party. Blackburn married Doris Amelia Hordern on 10 December 1914; the same year he entered the Victorian Legislative Assembly as the Australian Labor Party member for the Electoral district of Essendon, but lost his seat in 1917, due to his strong anti-war and anti-conscription stances.
He returned to practising law, establishing the firm Maurice Blackburn & Co. in 1919, dealing in trade union law and civil liberties cases. During his time practicing law Blackburn won cases that played a key role in establishing rights most Australians now take for granted, including the 40-hour working week, wage equality for indigenous workers, equal pay for women. Blackburn made his mark on Australian politics in 1921 when he led a successful move to have the socialisation of the means of production added to Labor's official platform. Returning to state Parliament in a 1925 by-election as the member for Fitzroy, Blackburn introduced legislation aimed at removing discrimination against women and opposed what he saw as repressive economic measures proposed during the depression. In 1933 he was elected Speaker of the Victorian Legislative Assembly, but resigned from the Assembly in 1934 so he could contest the Federal seat of Bourke based on the suburbs of Brunswick and Coburg in Melbourne.
Although he won Bourke and held it until 1943, his relations with the Labor Party were chequered. In late 1934 and early 1935 Blackburn acted as legal counsel to prevent the deportation of the noted Czech anti-Fascist Egon Kisch. In October 1935 he voted in favour of sanctions against Italy over the Abyssinian crisis defying his leader John Curtin, his support for international socialism and his opposition to conscription caused him to take positions opposed to Labor policy, in October 1935 he was expelled over his membership of the Movement Against War and Fascism. He was soon re-admitted to the ALP but expelled again in 1941 for his support of the Australia-Soviet Friendship League, his expulsion was seen as a warning to other left-wing MPs that violation of party policy was not to be tolerated. Blackburn continued to serve as the member for Bourke as an Independent, voting against the Labor government's conscription bill, but lost his seat at the 1943 election to the official Labor candidate.
Blackburn died on 31 March 1944 in Prahran, Victoria of cerebral tumour and was buried in Box Hill Cemetery, survived by his wife, two sons, a daughter, his mother. His estate, which included a fine library, was sworn for probate at £2,552. In a eulogy, Australian Prime Minister John Curtin referred to Blackburn as "one of the great servants of the people of the Commonwealth of Australia." His widow Doris won Bourke as an Independent Labour candidate at the 1946 election and spent much of her time in Parliament promulgating similar policies to those that Blackburn supported. Maurice Blackburn And The Australian Labor Party 1934 – 1943 – A Study of Principle In Politics, Author: Blackburn, Loose Leaf Service:ALP Pamphlet Collection, Folder 3, Insert I, Publisher: The Australian Society for the Study of Labour History, Date Published: 1969, Available at: Unions NSW Library Unions NSW Library Catalog Reference The Blackburns: Private Lives, Public Ambition, Carolyn Rasmussen, Melbourne University Press, 2019, ISBN 978-0522874464 Maurice Blackburn Lawyers history of Maurice Blackburn Victorian Parliament Profile of Former Speakers: Maurice Blackburn Entry for M. M. Blackburn in the Australian Dictionary of Biography Online Edition