Investigation 5

Who were some of the political leaders in the colony of Queensland in the late 1800s?

When Queensland separated from New South Wales in 1859, it had established its own parliament to make laws for the new colony. As the colony grew, people in the north, including workers and women felt that their interests were not represented in the Parliament, which was dominated by the pastoralists and business people from the south. Miners and sugar planters, workers, and then women started to organise to make their voices heard by government. With the exception of women, all of these groups would find representation in the Parliament by the end of the century.

Forming organisations, campaigning for causes and standing for elections requires leadership skills, commitment and motivation. There were many people in colonial Queensland politics that had such qualities. Some of them even represented the Queensland Parliament in intercolonial conferences and at the first Federal Convention in 1891. Conventions were held to decide how Federation would work and what responsibilities a new Federal Parliament would have. Queenslanders had to decide whether or not to support Federation, and many organisations campaigned to influence people’s opinions.

Your Task

Investigate the lives of political figures in Queensland in the late 1800s, including their values, motivations and leadership qualities.


  1. As a class, brainstorm a list of values and qualities that make a good leader.
  2. In groups of four, choose a biography of one of the prominent Queenslanders of the late 1880s each. List the most significant facts and events in the life of your subject. Place these in a flow chart.
  3. In your groups, discuss the values and qualities that were important in your subject’s life. You might do this by assigning values or characteristics to the decisions and events in their life. Reflect this information in your flow chart. Explain your choice of values to the members of your group.
  4. Combine with another group, and compare the life, values and characteristics of your respective subjects. What do they have in common, and what are their differences?
  5. Create a class presentation of the values and characteristics that you think were important to the achievements of each of your subjects during their lives in colonial Queensland in the late 1800s. In your presentation, include a description of the kind of world they lived in, and the questions you would have wanted to ask them if you had the opportunity.