POWERS, Sir Charles (1853-1939)


POWERS, Sir Charles (1853-1939)
judge of the high court
was born at Brisbane on 8 March 1853. Educated at Brisbane Grammar School he was admitted to practise as a solicitor in 1876 and was called to the bar in 1894. He entered the Queensland parliament in June 1888 as a member of the legislative assembly, in November 1889 became postmaster-general and minister for education in the Morehead (q.v.) ministry, and held these positions until August 1890. He was leader of the opposition in 1894-5. In 1894 he brought in an electoral reform bill which provided for women's franchise and the abolishing of plural voting. It did not, however, go beyond the second reading stage, and he had no success with his industrial conciliation and arbitration bill which he brought forward in the same year. He was crown solicitor for Queensland from 1899 to 1903, and was then appointed as the first solicitor-general for the Commonwealth. He held this position for to years and was then made a justice of the high court of Australia. He was president of the Commonwealth court of conciliation and arbitration in 1921, but returned to the high court bench in 1926. He retired in 1929 and in the same year was created K.C.M.G. He died on 25 April 1939. He married in 1878 Kate Ann Thornburn who survived him with children. Powers was a good cricketer in his youth and on one occasion captained a Queensland team against an English eleven. He was much interested in social questions. In the early days of federal government he was associated with many important constitutional problems, and before being raised to the bench conducted several appeals to the privy council on behalf of the Commonwealth government.
C. A. Bernays, Queensland Politics during Sixty Years; The Argus, Melbourne. 26 April 1939; Who's Who, 1938.

Dictionary of Australian Biography by PERCIVAL SERLE. . 1949.

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