Sir Neil Elliott Lewis

Sir Neil Elliott Lewis (1858-1935), a public-spirited lawyer, was a member (1886-1903 and 1909-22) of the Tasmanian parliament and Premier (1899-1903 and 1909-12). He was successively a member of the Anti-Socialist, Liberal and Nationalist parties. A convinced and active Federationist, he was a minister without portfolio in the first Commonwealth Parliament (January-April 1901) but did not stand for election. Courtesy Australian Dictionary of Biography


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.