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26 May 1916 Charles Cameron Kingston

 26 May 1916   Charles Cameron Kingston

The statue of one of South Australia's foremost politicians, Charles Cameron Kingston, was unveiled in Victoria Square on 26 May 1916.  He was born in Adelaide on 22 October 1850, the younger son of Sir George Strickland Kingston who came to the colony with Governor Hindmarsh in 1836. 

Charles Kingston was articled to Samuel Way and admitted to the bar in 1873. When Way became the Chief Justice, Kingston practised on his own. He was made a QC in 1888.

Elected to the House of Assembly for West Adelaide in 1881, he served as Attorney General and Chief Secretary until, in June 1893, he became Premier, holding this office until 1899. At this time he was defeated on the floor of the House by one vote and later resigned. He then stood for a seat in the Legislative Council, where he represented Central District until Federation.

During his period as Premier some important legislation was passed including the enfranchisement of women, establishment of the State Bank, registration of factories, industrial conciliation, state aid to producers, and other reforms. He was prominent in the Federation movement and was also an advocate of the 'white Australia' policy.

In 1897 he was elected President of the Federal Convention held in Adelaide, a position he retained at further conventions in Sydney and Melbourne. He was elected to the first Federal Parliament in which he held the portfolio of Minister of Trade and Customs. He was re-elected in 1903 and 1906.

A tall and robust man he was also an autocrat with a volatile temperament and explosive temper. In 1892, following some insulting remarks made in the House, he challenged the member concerned to a duel with pistols. He was arrested in Victoria Square for having a loaded gun and was bound over to keep the peace. He often clashed with people both in and out of parliament.

His health deteriorated after 1903 and he died on 11 May 1908. He was accorded a state funeral.

Bede Nairn, Geoffrey Serle (eds), Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 9, pp. 602-605.

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