George Leake

George Leake, WA Attorney General

George Leake (1856-1902) was Western Australia's third Premier. Born in Perth, he was articled to his father's legal firm and admitted to the Western Australian Bar in 1880.

Career

He opposed John Forrest’s government and was viewed as an unofficial leader of the opposition. By 1900, Forrest's majority had been reduced to a handful and he was often forced to make concessions to his opponents.

Constitutional Conventions and Federal League

Leake was a representative to the Australasian Federal Conventions in Adelaide, Sydney and Melbourne between 1897 and 1898. He advocated for a strong Senate as a guarantee of State rights. In May 1898 he helped establish the Federal League and became its president and main spokesman. He fought for a referendum in Parliament in alliance with the goldfields' federalists, including the Separation for Federation movement led by John Kirwan.

Campaign for Federation

Leake and Forrest eventually campaigned together in 1900 after Forrest persuaded the Legislative Council to pass the Bill to authorise a referendum on Federation. The victory of the 'Yes' campaign represented a personal triumph for Leake.

Following Forrest's resignation to enter federal politics, his successor George Throssell was unable to form government after the State elections in 1901. With support from the Labor Party Leake was able to form a minority government. He was premier for barely twelve months, before he collapsed and died from pneumonia in June 1902 at the age of 45.

Focus Questions

Key words

Crown Solicitor

Politician

Leader of the opposition

Federal League

Further reading

Leake family papers, 1824-1904 at the State Library of WA

George Leake in the Australian Dictionary of Biography

George Leake in Wikipedia

George Leake in the biographical register of the Parliament of Western Australia

George Leake in Dodgy Perth

Letter from Leake, 1900

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