PALMER, Sir Arthur Hunter (1819-1898)


PALMER, Sir Arthur Hunter (1819-1898)
premier of Queensland
was the son of Lieutenant Arthur Palmer, R.N., and his wife, Emily Hunter. He was born in Armagh, Ireland, on 28 December 1819 and was educated at Youghal grammar school. He emigrated to New South Wales in 1838, and for many years worked for H. Dangar on his stations, eventually becoming his general manager. He went to Queensland and took up land, and in 1866 was returned to Parliament as member for Port Curtis. On 2 August 1867 he became colonial secretary and secretary for public works in the R. R. Mackenzie (q.v.) ministry, and in September 1868 secretary for public lands. Mackenzie resigned on 25 November 1868 and Palmer went into opposition. On 3 May 1870 he became premier and colonial secretary and in July 1873 secretary for public works. His ministry was defeated in January 1874. During his term of office acts were passed which led to much development on account of new railways. Palmer was colonial secretary and secretary for public instruction in the McIlwraith (q.v.) ministry which came into power in January 1879, but resigned these positions on 24 December 1881 to become president of the legislative council. He remained in that position until the end of his life. On several occasions he was administrator of the government between 1881 and 1898. He died at Toowong, Queensland, after a long illness on 20 March 1898. He married in 1865 Miss C. J. Mosman, who died in 1885, and was survived by three sons and two daughters. He was created K.C.M.G. in 1881.
Palmer had a brusque manner and was a vigorous fighter in parliament. Though his forbears were well-educated people he had a rough way of speaking, and it has been suggested that he obtained his command of language bullock-driving in his early days. But behind his manner was much kindness, strong common sense and capability, which enabled him to carry out his official duties efficiently.
The Brisbane Courier, 21 March 1898; C. A. Bernays, Queensland Politics During Sixty Years; Burke's Colonial Gentry, 1891.

Dictionary of Australian Biography by PERCIVAL SERLE. . 1949.

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