EARLE, John (1865-1932)


EARLE, John (1865-1932)
first labour premier of Tasmania
was born at Bridgewater, Tasmania, in 1865. Leaving his father's farm at the age of 17 he obtained employment at Kennedy's foundry, Hobart, attended a night school and obtained some knowledge of mechanical engineering. In 1887 he went to the east and north-east coasts of Tasmania, and for four years worked at tin-mining, prospecting, engine-driving, and blacksmithing. He went to Zeehan in 1891, and stayed for several years until attracted by the Corinna gold-rush. Returning to Zeehan about 1898 he was elected president of the Amalgamated Miners' Association of Victoria and Tasmania, and represented this association at several annual conferences. He was also a member of the local council and chairman of the hospital board. In 1903 he stood for Waratah in an election for the house of assembly, but was defeated by three votes. He, however, won the seat three years later, and was elected leader of the first Tasmanian labour party. He was re-elected to this position every year for 10 years. He was leader of the opposition in 1909, and on 20 October formed a ministry which, however, lasted only seven days. On 6 April 1914 he became premier and attorney-general and held office until 15 April 1916. This ministry was responsible for the acquisition from Complex Ores Company Limited of a hydro-electric undertaking, which on account of the cheap power has been a factor in the development of industries in Tasmania. While leader of the opposition Earle addressed meetings in favour of conscription and was expelled from the labour party. In March 1917 he was elected by the Tasmanian parliament to fill a vacancy in the senate, and at the 1917 election he was a nationalist candidate and was returned as one of the Tasmanian senators. He became vice-president of the executive council in the W. M. Hughes ministry from December 1921 to February 1923. He was defeated at the senate election held in December 1922, and again in 1926, as a nationalist candidate. In 1928 he stood for the house of assembly as an independent candidate at his old constituency, but was again unsuccessful. He died at Kettering, Tasmania, on 6 February 1932. He left a widow but there were no children.
The Examiner, Launceston, 8 February 1932; The Mercury, Hobart, 8 February 1932.

Dictionary of Australian Biography by PERCIVAL SERLE. . 1949.

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