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Dickson became gravely ill in Sydney during the opening ceremonies for the new Commonwealth of Australia.

Image title:
Sir James Dickson

State Library of Queensland

Image ID:
neg. no. 69404

James Dickson (1832–1901)

Premier of Queensland and a late federalist

Dickson left a bank in Glasgow, Scotland to work in a bank in Melbourne. He moved to Brisbane and became rich in real estate
and banking.

He was a minister in the conservative government that ruled the colony in the 1890s. This government was opposed to Federation because it seemed likely that the Commonwealth would establish a very democratic government, which would try to stop Queensland from using cheap labour from the Pacific Islands on its
sugar plantations.

Dickson became premier unexpectedly in 1898 when one premier had been forced to resign because of banking scandals and another had died. He had to face the fact that soon there would be a federation in the south. He changed his mind about Federation and democracy and got parliament to put the constitution to the people.

He was Queensland's delegate in London when the British parliament was considering the constitution. He was the only delegate to side with the British minister of colonies, who wanted to make some changes to it. He became a minister in the first federal administration, Edmund Barton's government, but died within
a week.