• Sir James Dickson Diaries

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    State Library Qld
Page from the Dickson diaries

Born at Plymouth in 1832, James Dickson accompanied his parents to Glasgow before emigrating to Victoria in 1854. Soon after moving to Queensland in 1862 Dickson established himself as a successful auctioneer and produce agent. He also speculated in real estate, and in 1873 Dickson entered parliament after his election as Member for Enoggera. In turn Secretary for Public Works and Treasurer, he resigned in 1887 over the imposition of a land tax but was re-elected by his constituents. Dickson resigned again in May 1888 and travelled overseas. On his return in 1892, he was elected as Member for Bulimba but was forced to wait five years before being appointed to a ministerial position. Following the sudden death of Premier Thomas Byrne in October 1898, Dickson became his successor and during his term of office he sent the first contingent of Queensland troops to the South African conflict without the prior sanction of parliament. An unpopular leader, Dickson was forced to resign in October 1899, and he advised Lieutenant-Governor Sir Samuel Walker Griffith to call on Labor Leader Anderson Dawson to form a ministry. The first Labor government in the world lasted barely a week before conservatives regrouped around Robert Philp and brought about its downfall. In January 1901, Dickson was appointed Australia’s first Minister of Defence in Edmund Barton’s Federal Government, but fell ill during the inaugural ceremonies and died on 10 January.  Dickson’s diaries of 1899-1900 provide insights into his struggles as Premier and increasing disillusion with colonial politics.


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