Henry Daglish

Henry Daglish

The Hon. Henry Daglish (18 November 186616 August 1920 was Western Australia's first Labor premier, from 10 August 1904 until 25 August 1905.

Henry Daglish was born in Ballarat West, Victoria on 18 November 1866. He was educated in Geelong, and attended Melbourne University. He began a career in mechanical engineering, but abandoned it in 1883 and instead entered the Victorian public service, working as a clerk in the police department. On 20 August 1894 he married Edith Bishop. The following year, he resigned from the public service to go into business. In 1895 he also stood as a Labor party candidate in a by-election for the Victorian Legislative Assembly seat of South Melbourne, but received only 34 votes in an electorate of over 2000 electors. Later that year he wrote to the Western Australian premier Sir John Forrest requesting employment in Western Australia's public service. He was offered and accepted a position in Western Australia's police department. He eventually resigned, and entered business as an auctioner, accountant and legal manager.

Daglish became active in community life in Subiaco, and on 1 December 1900 was elected a member of the Subiaco Municipal Council. On 24 April 1901 he was elected to the seat of Subiaco in the Legislative Assembly, and resigned his position on the municipal council a month later. On 1 December 1902 he was elected Mayor of Subiaco, which office he held until 30 November 1904. He was re-elected as the Legislative Assembly member for Subiaco on 28 June 1904 with nearly 80 per cent of the vote. On 2 August he successfully moved a vote of no-confidence against Premier Walter James, and was asked to form Western Australia's first Labor government. He became premier, treasurer and minister for education on 10 August 1904. He gave up the education portfolio in June the following year.

Labor's support was not sufficient to keep the Daglish government in power, and it was dependent for its majority on a group of five independents. Because of this, the Daglish government put forward no distinctively Labor policies, and worked for consolidation rather than rapid development; in the press it was sometimes derisively referred to as the "Mark Time Government". After twelve difficult months, Daglish was finally defeated over the government's plans to buy out the Midland Railway Company for £1.5 million, which was thought to be too large a sum. The Daglish government was such a disappointment to Labor voters that when Cornthwaite Rason took over as premier and was granted an early dissolution, Labor lost seven of its 22 seats. Ultimately, Daglish's ministry achieved little, and its main significance was that having Labor in government encouraged the various opposition groups to coalesce into a Liberal party, thus resulting in a two-party system for the first time.

After his government's defeat, Daglish resigned as leader of the Labor Party, and as a member of the Caucus, and called himself Independent Labor. On 20 August 1907 he was made Chairman of Committees in the Legislative Assembly. From 1 December 1907 until 30 November 1908 he was again Mayor of Subiaco. On 16 September 1910, Daglish resigned as Chairman of Committees and accepted a position as minister for works in Frank Wilson's Liberal government. He held the portfolio until he lost his seat in the election of 3 October 1920.

From 1912, Daglish worked as an estate agent. In 1912 he was also appointed the employers' representative in the Court of Arbitration. He died on 16 August 1920, and was buried at Karrakatta Cemetery.

The Perth suburb of Daglish is named after him.


* Reid, G. S. and M. R. Oliver (1982). The Premiers of Western Australia 1890–1982. University of Western Australia Press. Nedlands, Western Australia. ISBN 0-85564-214-9.
* The Constitution Centre of Western Australia (2002). [http://www.ccentre.wa.gov.au/html/prems_govenors/first.html Governors and Premiers of Western Australia] . West Perth, Western Australia. ISBN 0-7307-3821-3.

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