1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Dickson, Sir James Robert

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DICKSON, SIR JAMES ROBERT (1832–1901), Australian statesman, was born in Plymouth on the 30th of November 1832. He was brought up in Glasgow, receiving his education at the high school, and became a clerk in the City of Glasgow Bank. In 1854 he emigrated to Victoria, but after some years spent in that colony and in New South Wales, he settled in 1862 in Queensland, where he was connected with many important business enterprises, among them the Royal Bank of Queensland. He entered the Queensland House of Assembly in 1872, and became minister of works (1876), treasurer (1876–1879, and 1883–1887), acting premier (1884), but resigned in 1887 on the question of taxing land. In 1889 he retired from business, and spent three years in Europe before resuming political life. He fought for the introduction of Polynesian labour on the Queensland sugar plantations at the general election of 1892, and was elected to the House of Assembly in that year and again at the elections of 1893 and 1896. He became secretary for railways in 1897, minister for home affairs in 1898, represented Queensland in the federal council of Australia in 1896 and at the postal conference at Hobart in 1898, and in 1898 became premier. His energies were now devoted to the formation of an Australian commonwealth. He secured the reference of the question to a plebiscite, the result of which justified his anticipations. He resigned the premiership in November 1899, but in the ministry of Robert Philp, formed in the next month, he was reappointed to the offices of chief secretary and vice-president of the executive council which he had combined with the office of premier. He represented Queensland in 1900 at the conference held in London to consider the question of Australian unity, and on his return was appointed minister of defence in the first government of the Australian Commonwealth. He did not long survive the accomplishment of his political aims, dying at Sydney on the 10th of January 1901, in the midst of the festivities attending the inauguration of the new state.