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For other people named George Pearce, see George Pearce (disambiguation).
The Honourable
Sir George Pearce
Sir George Pearce.jpg
Senator for Western Australia
In office
29 March 1901 – 30 June 1938
Personal details
Born (1870-01-14)14 January 1870
Mount Barker, South Australia
Died 24 June 1952(1952-06-24) (aged 82)
Elwood, Victoria
Nationality Australian
Political party Labor (1901–17)
Nationalist (1917–31)
UAP (1931–38)
Spouse(s) Eliza Maud Barrett
Occupation Carpenter

Sir George Foster Pearce KCVO (14 January 1870 – 24 June 1952) was an Australian politician who was instrumental in founding the Australian Labor Party in Western Australia.

Pearce, a carpenter, was born in Mount Barker, South Australia, to James Pearce (c. 1833 – 17 April 1919),[1] a Cornish Australian,[2] whose brother Charles Pearce (1826–1908) was MHA for East Torrens 1868–1870. He was educated at Red Hill Public School until he was 11, then worked on farms and later became a carpenter in Adelaide, but lost that job in the depression of 1891 and moved to Western Australia. He joined the Amalgamated Society of Carpenters and Joiners and soon became heavily involved in the union movement. In April 1897 he married Eliza Maud Barrett.[3]

Political career[edit]

In 1893, Pearce helped found the Progressive Political League, a precursor to the West Australian branch of the ALP. Self-educated in politics and economics, in 1901 he was elected to the first Commonwealth Parliament as a Senator for Western Australia. He narrowly missed out on being a member of the first Labor Party Cabinet when Chris Watson became Prime Minister in 1904. In 1908, he became Minister for Defence in the Cabinet of Andrew Fisher. He oversaw the foundation of the naval college at Jervis Bay and Royal Military College, Duntroon. In 1914 Australia entered World War I. Upon Billy Hughes' ascension as Prime Minister, Pearce was named Deputy Leader of the party.[3]

By this time, Australia's prosecution of the war made the introduction of conscription an intensely divisive issue for the ALP. Pearce was convinced of the necessity of introducing conscription, but the majority of his party did not agree. Pearce, along with many other of the party's founding members, subsequently followed Hughes out of the party and into the new "National Labor Party." A few months later, the National Labor Party merged with the Commonwealth Liberal Party to form the Nationalist Party, with Hughes as its leader.[3]

For much of 1916, Prime Minister Hughes was out of the country as a member of the Imperial war cabinet. During this time, over seven months, Pearce was acting prime minister, and the last person to rule for any length of time from the Senate.

Most of the defectors to the Nationalists subsequently faded into obscurity, but Pearce went on to have a successful career in the party of his erstwhile opponents. After Hughes was deposed as Nationalist leader, Pearce accepted a position in the ministry of Hughes' successor and rival, Stanley Bruce. He became the inaugural Father of the Senate in 1923. He was appointed a Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order (KCVO) in 1927.[4] In 1932, Pearce joined the newly formed United Australia Party, and served as a minister in the government of Joseph Lyons until his defeat at the 1937 election (his term ended in June 1938). He was a Senator for 37 years and three months, a record term. His total service as a minister was 24 years and seven months, also a record in the Australian Parliament. At the time of his death, he was the last surviving member of the Senate of the first Australian Parliament.[3]

Pearce died at home in the Melbourne suburb of Elwood, survived by two sons and two daughters.[3] RAAF Base Pearce, the Electoral Division of Pearce and the Canberra suburb of Pearce are named after him.


  1. ^ "Obituary". The Mount Barker Courier and Onkaparinga and Gumeracha Advertiser (SA : 1880 - 1954) (SA: National Library of Australia). 18 April 1919. p. 2. Retrieved 15 July 2015. 
  2. ^ Payton, Philip. The Cornish Overseas, 2005.
  3. ^ a b c d e Beddie, B. (1988). "Pearce, Sir George Foster (1870 - 1952)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Canberra: Australian National University. Retrieved 2007-10-20. 
  4. ^ It's an Honour: KCVO

External links[edit]

Parliament of Australia
New title Senator for Western Australia
Succeeded by
Robert Ernest Clothier
Political offices
Preceded by
Thomas Ewing
Minister for Defence
Succeeded by
Joseph Cook
Preceded by
Joseph Cook
Minister for Defence
Succeeded by
Edward Millen
Preceded by
Edward Millen
Minister for Defence
Succeeded by
Walter Massy-Greene
Preceded by
Alexander Poynton
Minister for Home and Territories
Succeeded by
William Glasgow
Preceded by
Llewellyn Atkinson
Vice-President of the Executive Council
Succeeded by
John Daly
Preceded by
Ben Chifley
Minister for Defence
Succeeded by
Archdale Parkhill
Preceded by
John Latham
Minister for External Affairs
Succeeded by
Billy Hughes
Preceded by
Harry Lawson
Minister in charge of Territories
Party political offices
Preceded by
Billy Hughes
Deputy Leader of the Australian Labor Party
Succeeded by
Albert Gardiner
Preceded by
Gregor McGregor
Leader of the Australian Labor Party in the Senate
New political party Leader of the National Labor Party in the Senate
Defunct political party
Preceded by
Edward Millen
Leader of the Nationalist Party in the Senate
Defunct political party
New political party Leader of the United Australia Party in the Senate
Succeeded by
Alexander McLachlan

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Pearce — Please support Wikipedia.
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92 news items

Watford Observer
Fri, 28 Aug 2015 02:46:03 -0700

After winning the toss, Leverstock Green chose to bat on the hottest Saturday of the summer. Ollie Ilott (one for 35) and George Pearce (two for 23) were wayward in the first six overs as Leverstock Green were 38 for no wicket, with a lot of the runs ...

Noosa News

Noosa News
Mon, 24 Aug 2015 13:07:16 -0700

George Pearce is a long-term resident of Tewantin and knows the town and its history intimately. He regularly conducts historical walking tours through Tewantin streets. This week at Noosa Parks Association's Friday Environment Forum, Mr Pearce will be ...

Savannah Morning News

Savannah Morning News
Sat, 22 Aug 2015 19:37:38 -0700

I worked on rocketry with Alex Ormond and studied with Dr. George Pearce and Dr. James Miles, who were chemists at Oatland Island. I learned so much from them. My mother was also a great influence. She would have been a physician but was born in the ...
Wicked Local Maynard
Wed, 05 Aug 2015 08:33:45 -0700

George Pearce requested a Class II Auto Dealer License. He said he worked in a small shop on Parker Street doing restorations of older cars and hot rods and needed the dealer license to purchase vehicles at auction. He said he only worked on one ...

White Horse News (blog)

White Horse News (blog)
Tue, 11 Aug 2015 03:18:45 -0700

Stuart George Pearce was born to Tom and Harriet Pearce, at Longbridge Deverill near Warminster in 1872; the youngest of three children. He started his military service at 18, when in December 1893 he enlisted in the Wiltshire Regiment. The enlistment ...

The Guardian

The Guardian
Wed, 08 Jul 2015 11:11:15 -0700

'By deciding that the licence fee will be used to fund welfare payments, the move takes the BBC another dangerous step closer to becoming just another government department, with all that implies for its editorial independence,' writes Phil Harding.

The Daily Telegraph

The Daily Telegraph
Tue, 28 Jul 2015 07:10:19 -0700

Lieutenant George Pinnock Merz of 30th Squadron Australian Flying Corps was the first Australian pilot to be killed in action. Picture: Australian War Memorial A03918. UNAWARE of the fate awaiting him, newly qualified doctor George Merz spent the ...


Sun, 07 Jun 2015 15:35:53 -0700

Several of the birds, apparently possessing a little 50 Cent swag in their plumage, survived multiple gunshot wounds and ran away, to the point that George Pearce, Defense Minister, gave up. America can't lose to a country incapable of beating these ...

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