A century ago, Australia led the world in progressive social initiatives. Admiring visitors crossed the globe to inspect this advanced social laboratory. Chris Watson’s 1904 ministry, the culmination of Australian Labor’s astonishingly rapid rise, was the first national Labor government in the world.
This book is the story of that pioneering government.
Its accomplished prime minister, little known today, led a cabinet that included two future prime ministers, together with a practically blind ex-labourer and a defence minister who feuded with the British commander-in-chief of Australia’s defence forces. Watson’s cabinet also included the only MP to serve in a Labor ministry without being a member of the Labor Party, and the only MP to be expelled from Australia’s federal parliament.
This book explains how the government came to office, assesses its record and achievements, analyses its defeat, and illuminates its place in Australian history.