School of History, Classics & Archaeology

Dr David Headon - '"So much more than a Prime Minister": Andrew Fisher (1862-1928)'

Born in Ayrshire in 1862, Andrew Fisher began work as a pit boy aged nine-years-old. He emigrated to Queensland aged 22, in 1885, and shortly after joined the fledgling Queensland Labor Party.  While never a charismatic politician, he was liked on both sides of the political divide for his honesty, integrity and unswerving dedication to the attainment of a more just Australia.  Prime Minister no less than three times (between 1908 and 1915), and the first Prime Minister to enjoy a majority in both houses of Parliament, his governments legislated on the basis of fairness.  His word was his bond.

Fisher is probably best known for his statement at the outset of the Great War that Australia would support Great Britain to its ‘last man’ and ‘last shilling’, yet the devastating loss of life in that unprecedented global conflict aged him terribly.  Gallipoli horrified him.  By the end of the war his hair was snow white, his inherent optimism in tatters, his memory in trouble.  Fisher’s pacifist instincts had been violated.  He never really recovered.

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HCA First Eight

Dr David Headon

David Headon is a cultural consultant and historian. Formerly Director of the Centre for Australian Cultural Studies (1994-2004), Cultural Adviser to the National Capital Authority (2000-2007), History and Heritage Adviser for the Centenary of Canberra (2008-13) and an Adviser to Senator Kate Lundy (2008-15). He is a Foundation Fellow at the Australian Studies Institute (ANU), a Parliamentary Library Associate, an Associate of the National Museum of Australia and the Canberra Raiders RL Club historian.

This Lecture is presented as part of the First Eight Project - a joint undertaking between the Parliamentary Library, the National Museum of Australia, the National Archives of Australia, the Victorian Parliamentary Library and the Australian National University’s Australian Studies Institute to commemorate and celebrate the first eight Prime Ministers of Australia.

Oct 24 2019 -

Dr David Headon - '"So much more than a Prime Minister": Andrew Fisher (1862-1928)'

The remarkable contribution to Australian political life made by Andrew Fisher, Australia’s fifth Prime Minister, has only just begun to receive a measure of the recognition it deserves. Join Dr David Headon to discover more about this extraordinary man.

Room LG.11, David Hume Tower, George Square, Edinburgh EH8 9JX