|26th Premier of South Australia
Elections: 1910, 1912
3 June 1910 – 16 November 1928
|Preceded by||Charles McHugh|
|Succeeded by||Archibald Peake|
|Senator for South Australia|
30 August 1927
9 July 1856|
|Died||7 June 1932(aged 75)|
|Political party||Labor (until 1916)
National Labor (1916–17)
John Verran (9 July 1856 – 7 June 1932) was the 26th Premier of South Australia, serving from 1910 to 1912. The 1910 election saw the South Australian division of the Australian Labor Party form a majority government, the first time a party had done so in South Australia. He was a resident of Moonta, and was member for the South Australian House of Assembly seat of Wallaroo from 1901 to 1918. He was also a member of the Australian Senate from 1927 to 1928. As premier, Verran helped to improve conditions for Aborigines while also making efforts to make home ownership more possible for the underprivileged.
Verran was born at Gwennap, Cornwall in UK, on 9 July 1856 and when only three months old was taken by his parents to Australia. The family lived at Kapunda, South Australia, until he was eight, and then moved to Moonta where copper had been discovered in 1861. Verran received very little education and before he was 10 years old was working at the copper-mines as a pickey-boy, whose job it was to sort the ore above ground. He attended a night school some years later. When 18 he went to the Queensland gold-mines but soon returned to Moonta, where he worked as a miner for nearly 40 years. He was elected president of the Moonta miners' association (the Amalgamated Miners' Association) and held this office from 1895 to 1913.
In 1901 he was elected a member of the South Australian house of assembly for Wallaroo, and on the death of Price in 1909 became leader of the Labor party. The following year, he led Labor to South Australia's first majority government in the House of Assembly at the 1910 election, with Labor on a primary vote of 49.1 percent and 22 of 42 seats, less than two weeks before Labor created Australia's first federal majority government and first Australian Senate majority at the 1910 federal election. On 3 June 1910 Verran became Premier, and was also commissioner of public works and minister of mines and of water-supply. Lasting less than 21 months, the government faced riots due to a drivers' strike in Adelaide streets, and criticism of how Verran handled the problem. Considerable sums were spent on railways and harbours. The Advances for Homes Act of 1911 allowed the State Bank of South Australia to grant loans to poorer people, but the Legislative Council would not support the government attempts to create state brickyards and timber mills. Relations between the assembly and the council were strained, with Verran petitioning the British parliament to veto the council's decision. Verran called a 1912 election over the power of the upper house to veto the lower, however Labor suffered a swing against them, and were left with 16 of 40 seats.
Verran was succeeded as leader of the Labor party by Crawford Vaughan in 1913, and he broke with that party in 1917 over the conscription issue. In 1918 he stood as a Nationalist candidate and was defeated, and he was also defeated at the federal election held in 1925. In 1927 he was elected by the South Australian parliament to fill the vacancy in the federal Senate caused by the death of Senator Charles McHugh. He lost his seat in 1928 and henceforth lived in retirement. His wife predeceased him and he was survived by three sons and four daughters. Verran was a man of fine character whose honesty was proverbial. For many years he was a power in the Labor ranks, but his career really ended when he left the party.
- Australian Dictionary of Biography
- Ross McMullin, The Light on the Hill: The Australian Labor Party 1891-1991
- John Verran profile at SA Parliament website
|Premier of South Australia
1910 – 1912
|Party political offices|
|Leader of the Australian Labor Party
1909 – 1913