James Mitchell (Australian politician)

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Sir James Mitchell
GCMG
Sir James Mitchell.jpg
13th Premier of Western Australia
In office
17 May 1919 – 16 April 1924
Preceded by Sir Hal Colebatch
Succeeded by Philip Collier
In office
24 April 1930 – 24 April 1933
Preceded by Philip Collier
Succeeded by Philip Collier
Constituency Northam
22nd Governor of Western Australia
In office
1948 – June 1951
Preceded by Colonel Sir William Campion
Succeeded by Sir Charles Gairdner
Personal details
Born (1866-04-27)27 April 1866
Died 26 July 1951(1951-07-26) (aged 85)
Political party Nationalist

Sir James Mitchell GCMG (27 April 1866 – 26 July 1951) was the 13th Premier of Western Australia, serving on two occasions, the Lieutenant-Governor of Western Australia for 15 years and the 22nd Governor of Western Australia.

Biography[edit]

Mitchell, the eldest of thirteen children, was educated at Bunbury, Western Australia and in 1885 joined the Western Australian Bank. He later was a farmer.

In 1906, the state premier Newton Moore made Mitchell an honorary minister for agricultural expansion. In 1909 he was promoted, being given the portfolios of lands and agriculture. He recruited William Lowrie as director of agriculture.

On 17 May 1919, premier Hal Colebatch resigned and Mitchell succeeded to the position. Mitchell won the 1921 election and remained premier until 1924. During this period he garnered much publicity for his strong support for the Soldier-Settlement Scheme in the south-west of Western Australia. As a result of his enthusiastic promotion of this scheme (which ultimately proved very costly in terms of money and resources) he was dubbed "Moo-Cow" Mitchell by the local press.[1] Nonetheless the establishment of a dairy industry in Western Australia can be largely credited to him. He also proved adept at dealing with the divisions between the Nationalist Party and the Country Party.

Mitchell's election to a second term in office coincided with the onset of the Great Depression. His government was defeated at the 1933 state elections, in addition to which he became the first Western Australian premier to lose both a state election and his parliamentary seat (of Northam).

As a result of financial difficulties during the Great Depression, Tasmania had appointed a lieutenant governor in the 1930s. With the approval of the major political parties, in July 1933 Mitchell was appointed lieutenant governor of Western Australia. This meant that, although he resided in Government House, and was governor in all but name, he drew no salary, thus making a reduced demand on the public purse at a time when ordinary people were under severe restraint. He held the position until he was finally appointed governor in 1948. He retired from the post in June 1951, and died one month later.

Mitchell was the first Australian-born governor of Western Australia, and he remains the only person to have served as both Premier and Governor of the state.

The Mitchell Freeway was named in his honour, as was Sir James Mitchell Park in South Perth and Sir James Mitchell National Park.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "THE CALAMITOUS MOO-COW.". Sunday Times (Perth, WA : 1902 - 1954) (Perth, WA: National Library of Australia). 16 February 1908. p. 3 Section: FIRST SECTION. Retrieved 22 January 2014.  the SundaY Times piece suggests the name was given a lot earlier

References[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Sir Hal Colebatch
Premier of Western Australia
1919–1924
Succeeded by
Philip Collier
Preceded by
Philip Collier
Premier of Western Australia
1930–1933
Succeeded by
Philip Collier
Government offices
Vacant
Title last held by
Sir William Campion
Governor of Western Australia
1948–1951
Succeeded by
Sir Charles Gairdner