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Tall, strong Kingston liked to get his own way.

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Charles Kingston

National Library of Australia

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Swiss Studios

Charles Kingston(1850–1908)

Premier of South Australia and a founder of Federation

Kingston was a lawyer. In politics he was an angry reformer, hating the wealthy people who opposed the people's rights. He challenged one of his opponents to a duel with pistols and was arrested by the police. In court the magistrate ordered him to keep the peace for
12 months. But this did not stop him becoming premier.

He was a great supporter of Federation. Apart from insisting that the small states must have the same number of senators as the large states, he wanted a democratic constitution for the Commonwealth. He believed that all people, men and women, should have the vote. He argued strongly that the upper house (Legislative Council) should not block the people's wishes represented in the lower house, as it did in South Australia.

Kingston was a minister for trade and customs in the first Commonwealth ministry under Edmund Barton. This was an important post, since he had to steer through parliament the new tariff duties which were to replace those of the colonies. He also drew up the Bill for the Arbitration Court that was to settle workplace disputes, something he had pioneered in South Australia.