About Joseph Cook
- Born: 7 December 1860
- Died: 30 July 1947
- Partner: Mary Cook
- Political party:
- Free Trade Party
- Liberal Party of Australia (As PM)
- Nationalist Party
- Image: NAA: M3614, 15
Joseph Cook was 31 in 1891 when he became Labor member for Hartley in the New South Wales parliament. He was a minister in George Reid’s Free Trade government 3 years later. He joined the first federal parliament in 1901 as a Free Trade member and, despite being described as having ‘no glow’, held the federal seat of Parramatta for 20 years.
A man of great determination, he was quick to make the most of 2 major re-alignments of political parties in the parliament’s first 2 decades. In 1909, he became Minister for Defence, after taking a key role in the fusion of non-Labor parties that year. In 1917, he led the Liberal Party in a merger to form the Nationalist Party and served as Minister for the Navy and as Treasurer in William Hughes’ government.
Joseph Cook was Australia’s 6th Prime Minister, taking office in 1913 with a Liberal Party majority of only one seat in the House of Representatives. On leaving politics, Cook served as Australia’s third High Commissioner in London from 1921 to 1927.
Did you know?
- was one of the ‘Australian Lincolns’ - those prime ministers whose early poverty meant they had left school early to work
- was a founding member of New South Wales Labor Party, then a member of the other 3 major parties from 1901 to 1921
- lost government in the first double dissolution of Commonwealth parliament in 1914
- was dubbed ‘the most humourless’ of the prime ministers