John Earle (Australian politician)

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John Earle
John Earle (Australian politician).jpg
22nd Premier of Tasmania
In office
20 October 1909 – 27 October 1909
Preceded byElliott Lewis
Succeeded byElliott Lewis
In office
6 April 1914 – 15 April 1916
Preceded byAlbert Solomon
Succeeded byWalter Lee
Senator for Tasmania
In office
1 March 1917 – 30 June 1923
Preceded byRudolph Ready
Personal details
Born(1865-11-15)15 November 1865
Bridgewater, Tasmania
Died6 February 1932(1932-02-06) (aged 66)
Kettering, Tasmania, Australia
Political partyLabor (1903-1916)
Nationalist (1916-1928)
Independent (1928-1932)

John Earle (15 November 1865 – 6 February 1932) was an Australian politician and the first Labor Premier of Tasmania.

Early life[edit]

Born into a farming family of Cornish descent[1] in Bridgewater, Tasmania, Earle left home at 17 to work as a blacksmith's apprentice in a Hobart foundry.[2] He studied mechanical engineering at night school, but left in 1891 for work as a tin miner and gold prospector in Zeehan and then Corinna.[2] Returning to Zeehan in about 1898 he was elected president of the Amalgamated Miners' Association of Victoria and Tasmania, and represented this association at several annual conferences. He was also a member of the local council and chairman of the hospital board.

Political career[edit]

After an active career as an organiser for the union, Earle helped found the Tasmanian Workers' Political League, forerunner to the Australian Labor Party (Tasmanian Branch). In 1903, he became the organisation's first president.

In the same year, Earle stood for the Tasmanian House of Assembly in the electorate of Waratah, but was defeated by three votes.[2] He was successful with his second attempt in 1906 and led the first Tasmanian Labor government into office in 1909; a minority government which lasted a week.[3] For the 1909 election, he transferred to Franklin after Tasmania adopted the Hare-Clark proportional representation system. He returned to office as Premier and Attorney-General in 1914, serving until his defeat at the polls in 1916. While leader of the opposition Earle addressed meetings in favour of conscription and was expelled from the Labor Party.

In March 1917 Earle, who had by then joined the Nationalist Party of Australia, was elected by the Parliament of Tasmania to fill a vacancy in the Australian Senate. He retained his seat in the 1917 election,[3] he became Vice-President of the Executive Council in the Hughes ministry from December 1921 to February 1923. He was defeated at the Senate election held in December 1922, and again in 1925, as a Nationalist candidate; in 1928 he stood as an independent candidate in Franklin, but was unsuccessful.


Earle died at Kettering, Tasmania, on 6 February 1932, he left a widow but no children.[2] His cousin Alicia O'Shea Petersen would later follow Earle into politics as a prominent suffragist.


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b c d "Earle, John (1865–1932)". Dictionary of Australian Biography. 2009. Retrieved 29 November 2009.
  3. ^ a b "The Parliament of Tasmania from 1856". Parliament of Tasmania. November 2005. Retrieved 29 November 2009.
Political offices
Preceded by
Elliott Lewis
Premier of Tasmania
Succeeded by
Elliott Lewis
Preceded by
Albert Solomon
Premier of Tasmania
Succeeded by
Sir Walter Lee
Preceded by
Edward Russell
Vice-President of the Executive Council
Succeeded by
Llewellyn Atkinson