John Quick (politician)

John Quick (politician)

Sir John Quick (14 April 185217 June 1932), Australian politician and author, was the federal Member of Parliament for Bendigo from 1901 to 1913 and a leading delegate to the constitutional conventions of the 1890s.

Early life

Quick was born in Trevassa, Cornwall, England, in 1852, the son of John Sr and Mary Quick. The family migrated to Australia in 1854, where John Sr, a farmer, began prospecting at the Bendigo goldfields. However, he died a few months later.

Quick was educated at a state school in Bendigo and at the age of 10 went to work in an iron foundry at Long Gully. Quick later worked as an assistant at the Bendigo Evening News, and then as a junior reporter at the Bendigo Independent. Here he gained skills in shorthand writing, and improved his general education.

In 1873, Quick moved to Melbourne and passed the matriculation examination at the University of Melbourne. There he studied law, and with the help of scholarships, completed his course in 1877, graduating with a Bachelor of Laws (LL.B). Quick was called to the bar in June 1878, but instead continued as a journalist. Soon later, he became the leading parliamentary reporter at The Age newspaper.

Political career

Victorian state politics

In 1880 Quick stood for election to the Parliament of Victoria, and was elected the Member for Bendigo in the Legislative Assembly. He was a supporter of the liberal leader Sir Graham Berry. At this time, he resigned from The Age and returned to live in Bendigo, where he practiced as a solicitor.

In 1882, Quick received a Doctor of Laws degree (LL.D) after sitting an examination. In 1883, he married Catherine Harris. The couple did not have any children together.

Quick was successful in parliament, and in 1886 was offered a ministerial portfolio by the then Premier of Victoria Duncan Gillies. However, after an electoral redistribution, Quick lost his seat at the 1889 election.

Federation movement

Quick had become interested in the Australian Federation movement while in the Victorian Parliament, and in the early 1890s successfully persuaded the Australian Natives Association to advocate federation.

In August 1893, Quick attended the first informal Constitutional Convention at Corowa, and proposed that a formal national convention should be established, with each of the six Australian colonies to be represented by ten elected delegates. The proposal was agreed on, and in November 1893 Quick drafted a bill which formed the basis of the deliberations at the formal convention held in Adelaide in 1897. Quick was elected to the Adelaide convention as second on the list of ten Victorian representatives.

When Federation was inaugurated on 1 January 1901, Quick was knighted in recognition of his services to the federation movement. On the same day, Quick and Robert Garran published The Annotated Constitution of the Australian Commonwealth, which is widely regarded as one of the most authoritative works on the Australian Constitution.

Federal politics

At the federal election of 1901, Quick was elected to the Australian House of Representatives as Member for the Division of Bendigo. He was considered a member of the Protectionist Party. He was chairman of the first federal tariff commission, and was Postmaster-General in the third cabinet under Alfred Deakin in 1909.

Quick was defeated in the 1913 election by the Australian Labor Party candidate, John Arthur. In 1922, he was appointed deputy president of the federal Arbitration Court, a position he held until his retirement on 25 March 1930.

Quick continued to be a prolific author. In 1904, along with Littleton Groom, Quick published The Judicial Power of the Commonwealth, and in 1919 published The Legislative Powers of the Commonwealth and the States of Australia. After retiring in 1930, he worked on a book which he intended to call The Book of Australian Authors, a bibliographical survey of various Australian authors, poets and playwrights. However, he died before he could complete the work. Professor E Morris Miller continued his work, and the book was published in 1940 as Australian Literature from its beginnings to 1935.



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