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Former Member of Parliament Details

  Hon Sir John Cockburn KCMG


Full Name Sir John Alexander Cockburn KCMG
Date of Birth 23 Aug 1850
QualificationsKCMG (1900), MD (1874)
Public ActivitiesThe first doctor to be Premier of South Australia, Sir John Cockburn was described as progressive by his supporters, but derided as a radical by detractors. Selected as the first Mayor of Jamestown in 1878, he stood for Burra in the Lower House in 1884, serving as Minister of Education from 1885 - 1887 before losing his seat and returning as a member for Mount Barker. He was active in the planning of Federation and argued eloquently for a more democratic Constitution. He served as Premier in 1889 for a year before his government was defeated by Playford's no confidence vote. Cockburn was responsible for an important land taxation Act and supported payment for members of Parliament, and although he did not often successfully negotiate the murky waters of faction politics he continually fought for adult suffrage, technical and industrial education, and Upper House reform. He held office in the Holder and Kingston ministries before resigning to serve as Agent-General for South Australia in 1898. He was effectively fired from this position in 1901 when the post was downgraded to state agent, although he remained South Australia's "unofficial ambassador" in London. He made an unsuccessful attempt to enter British politics in 1904 and was prominent in the financial and insurance circles until his death in 1929.

Deceased26 Nov 1929


DateHouseDistrictPartyReason (If Retired)
23 Apr 1884 - 05 Apr 1887House of AssemblyBurraPre-Party SystemChanged Seat
06 Apr 1887 - 20 Apr 1898House of AssemblyMount BarkerPre-Party SystemResigned


Offices Held

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20 Apr 1898Former Member

Ministerial Appointment

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16 Jun 1885 - 11 Jun 1887Minister of Education
27 Jun 1889 - 19 Aug 1890Chief Secretary
27 Jun 1889 - 19 Aug 1890Premier
21 Jun 1892 - 15 Oct 1892Chief Secretary
16 Jun 1893 - 13 Apr 1898Minister of Agriculture
16 Jun 1893 - 13 Apr 1898Minister of Education
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