- PRENDERGAST, George Michael (1854-1937)
- politicianwas born at Adelaide on 6 May 1854. His parents had arrived from Ireland in the previous year. The family came to Victoria, and Prendergast served his apprenticeship as a printer at Stawell. He afterwards went to Sydney and worked on the Sydney Daily Telegraph, and later managed the Narrandera Argus. Returning to Victoria in 1888, he took much interest in his union, and in 1890 was appointed its delegate on the Trades Hall council. In 1892 he became the first secretary of the newly-formed Victorian Labour party, and in 1894 he was elected a member of the legislative assembly for North Melbourne. Defeated by W . A. Watt at the 1897 election, he regained the seat in 1900, and held it until the constituency was abolished in 1927. He was elected leader of the Labour party in 1904, but resigned early in 1913 and went on a trip to the old world. On his return he took office on 9 December 1913 as chief secretary in the Elmslie government, which was, however, defeated less than a fortnight later. He again became leader of the Labour party in 1918, and on 18 July 1924 formed a government, taking himself the portfolios of premier and treasurer. His party, however, did not have a majority in the house and he was able to pass little legislation of importance. In 1926 Prendergast resigned the leadership of the Labour party on account of his health and advancing years; but he still took an active part in the work of parliament, and in May 1927 was given the position of chief secretary in the Hogan ministry which remained in power until November 1928. When Hogan formed his second ministry in December 1929, Prendergast, who was now in his seventy-sixth year, was not a candidate for office. After the North Melbourne electorate had been absorbed under a redistribution act, Prendergast was elected for Footscray and represented it until his death on 28 August 1937. He married Mary Larrad in 1876, who survived him with two sons and a daughter.Prendergast was a fluent speaker, a good debater, honest and enthusiastic for his cause. Personally liked on both sides of the house he was largely responsible for the building up of the Labour party in Victoria. He was on the council of the Royal Zoological and Acclimatization Society from 1912, and was a trustee of the public library, museums, and national gallery of Victoria from 1921. In private life he was interested in pottery and porcelain, and in the work of Australian artists and writers.The Argus and The Age, Melbourne, 30 August 1937; Who's Who in Australia, 1935.
Dictionary of Australian Biography by PERCIVAL SERLE. Angus and Robertson. 1949.
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