William Zeal

William Zeal

Sir William Austin Zeal KCMG (December 5, 1830 - March 11, 1912) was an Australian railway engineer and politician.

Zeal was born at Westbury, Wiltshire, England, the son of Thomas Zeal. Educated privately, Zeal obtained his diploma as a surveyor and engineer, and came to Melbourne in 1852. Employed as an engineer in charge of railway construction by private contractors, Zeal also served in the government service for some years. He was elected a member of the Victorian Legislative Assembly for the Electoral district of Castlemaine in 1864, but, having joined forces with Sir William Mitchell in a station in the Riverina, resigned his seat in 1866.

Drought conditions caused Zeal to resume his practice as an engineer in 1869, and in the following year he was again elected for Castlemaine, but pressure of business caused him to resign again. In 1882 he entered the Victorian Legislative Council as a representative of the North Central Province, and in April 1892 he became postmaster-general in the Shiels ministry. He resigned in November and was elected president of the legislative council. Zeal was re-elected to this position in 1894, 1897 and 1900 and was one of the representatives of Victoria at the 1897 federal convention that worked towards federation of the six Australian colonies.

At the first federal election in 1901 Zeal was elected to the Australian Senate as a Protectionist Party representative for Victoria. He was re-elected in 1903, but declined to stand in 1906 due to age concerns (he was then in his seventy-sixth year).

Zeal was a director of several leading Melbourne financial companies and he retained his interest in these until his death, following an operation, in 1912. Created K.C.M.G. in 1895, Zeal never married.

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