The Dictionary of Australasian Biography/Byrne, Hon. Robert

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Byrne, Hon. Robert, who for a few months was Treasurer of Victoria, is the eldest son of Michael Byrne, of Dublin, Ireland, and was born there on Nov. 12th, 1822. He left Ireland for New York in 1848, and settled there, carrying on the business of general auctioneer in that city as well as in Boston. Towards the end of 1852 he left America for Victoria, arriving in Melbourne In Feb. 1853, He commenced auctioneering at Sandridge, now called Port Melbourne, and represented the district in the Melbourne Corporation prior to its being constituted a separate municipality. At the general election of 1864 he contested Sandridge for a seat in the Legislative Assembly in the Liberal interest against the Hon. David Moore, but was defeated by three votes, and was unsuccessful on petition. Shortly afterwards he was returned for Crowlands by a very large majority. In 1869, when Sir James MᶜCulloch went outside the House for a Commissioner of Customs, Mr. Byrne carried a motion censuring the Government, which was taken by them as a vote of want of confidence, on which they resigned, a new Ministry being formed on Sept. 20th, 1869, with the Hon. J. A. Macpherson as Chief Secretary and Mr. Byrne as Treasurer. When, however, the latter sought re-election at the hands of his constituents, he was defeated by Mr. Rolfe, the gentleman to whose appointment he had objected, and retired from office on Jan. 21st, 1870, being succeeded by Mr. (now Sir Graham) Berry. Mr. Byrne has not since re-entered public life.