Charles Cameron Kingston

Charles Cameron Kingston (1850-1908) was a radical liberal member (1881-1900) of the South Australian parliament and Premier in 1893-99. His government legislated for adult suffrage and for the prevention and settlement of industrial disputes through arbitration. He was one of the leading figures in the Federation movement. In 1901-03 he was minister for trade and customs in Federal parliament. Courtesy Australian Dictionary of Biography


21 December 1894

South Australia’s arbitration model

The great strikes of the 1890s lead to debate about how the proposed federal parliament might prevent and settle interstate industrial disputes. Charles Kingston, the South Australian Attorney-General, raises the issue in 1891. His industrial arbitration and conciliation legislation of 1894 is the first attempt in Australia to impose arbitration by law as a means of preventing and settling industrial disputes, although the trade unions choose to remain outside its jurisdiction.


Industrial dispute at Mt. Dromedary Gold Mining Co. (NL mine), 1898.
1 January 1901

Commonwealth of Australia proclaimed

On 1 January the Commonwealth of Australia is proclaimed in Centennial Park, Sydney. The Proclamation and Letters Patent of the Governor-General, Lord Hopetoun, are read out and the nine members of the interim federal Ministry are sworn in. The Ministry includes Edmund Barton (Prime Minister, Department of External Affairs), Alfred Deakin (Attorney-General’s Department), Sir William Lyne (Department of Home Affairs), Charles Cameron Kingston (Department of Trade and Customs), Sir James Robert Dickson (Department of Defence), Sir John Forrest (Postmaster-General’s Department), Sir George Turner (Department of the Treasury), Sir Neil Elliot Lewis and Richard O’Connor. Edmund Barton is Prime Minister from 1901 to 1903. Sir Robert Randolph Garran is appointed as the first, and briefly, the only Commonwealth public servant on 1 January 1901 as Secretary of the Attorney-General’s Department and parliamentary draftsman. Their roles in the first Commonwealth government are commemorated in the names of Canberra’s early suburbs.


Opening of the first Commonwealth Parliament of Australia, Exhibition Building, Melbourne, 1901.