Richard Butler (Australian politician)
|23rd Premier of South Australia
Elections: 1905, 1906
1 March 1905 – 26 July 1905
|Preceded by||John Jenkins|
|Succeeded by||Thomas Price|
Sir Richard Butler (3 December 1850 – 28 April 1925) was an Australian politician and Premier of South Australia.
Early life 
Butler was born at Stadhampton, near Oxford, England, elder son of Richard Butler, pastoralist, and his wife Mary Eliza, née Sadler. The family emigrated to South Australia, arriving in Adelaide on 8 March 1854. Butler was educated at St Peter's College, Adelaide, then spent many years as a farmer and grazier. He was a Justice of the Peace before he was 30.
Political career 
Butler attempted to enter parliament early in 1890 when he stood for Yatala but was defeated. A few months later he won the seat at a by-election caused by the death of one of the seat's sitting members, James Cowan. On 13 April 1898 he succeeded Cockburn as minister of agriculture in the Kingston ministry which resigned in December 1899.
Butler was Treasurer in the Jenkins ministry 15 May 1901–1 March 1905, and was also Commissioner of Crown Lands and Immigration 1 April 1902–1 March 1905. Jenkins then went to London as Agent-General. Butler succeeded him as Premier, still keeping his previous portfolios. His ministry was defeated on 26 July 1905 and he was in opposition for about four years. On 22 December 1909 Butler joined the first Peake ministry as Treasurer and Minister for the Northern Territory, but the ministry was defeated on 3 June 1910. Butler was Commissioner of Public Works in the second Peake ministry 17 February 1912–10 November 1914 and Minister of Mines and of Marine 17 February 1912–3 April 1915. He was Treasurer once again and Minister of Railways in Peake's third ministry from 14 July 1917–7 May 1919, and Minister of Agriculture 19 December 1918–7 May 1919.
Butler left the ministry in controversial circumstances. The report of the Royal Commission on the Wheat Scheme appeared to reflect on the actions of Butler while he was the minister in charge of it, and Peake asked Butler to resign. He refused to do so because he considered that that would admit the justice of the charges. The Executive Council, on the advice of the government, thereupon dismissed Butler from his offices. The report of another royal commission presented some 14 months later was, however, accepted as clearing him of guilt; also the fact that he was elected Speaker in 1921 suggests there had been injustice. He was defeated at the general election of 1924 after having represented the same district for 34 years.
Late life 
At the beginning of 1925 Butler went on a trip to England and died at South Croydon on 28 April 1925. Butler was made a knight bachelor in 1913. He had married Helena Kate Layton in 1878 and Ethel Pauline Finer in 1894, who survived him. He had eight children by his first marriage and three by his second.
- Kay Rollison, 'Butler, Sir Richard (1850 - 1925)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 7, MUP, 1979, pp 505–506.
- List of Prime Minister/Premier by date at Australian Government and Politics Database Project
- Serle, Percival (1949). "Butler, Richard". Dictionary of Australian Biography. Sydney: Angus and Robertson.
- Parliament of South Australia, Statistical Record of the Legislature 1836 - 2007; Compiled in the Offices of the Clerk of the Parliaments and the Clerk of the Legislative Council, page 61, , retrieved 17/09/2012
|Premier of South Australia
1 March 1905 – 26 July 1905