William Gillies (Australian politician)

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William Gillies
Parliamentary Qld Labor Party 1921.jpg
Queensland Parliamentary Labor Party (Assembly) Session, 1921 - William Gillies is in the inset photo on the right
21st Premier of Queensland
In office
26 February 1925 – 22 October 1925
Governor Sir Matthew Nathan
Preceded by Ted Theodore
Succeeded by William McCormack
Constituency Eacham
Personal details
Born William Neil Gillies
(1868-10-27)27 October 1868
Eccleston, New South Wales
Died 9 February 1928(1928-02-09) (aged 59)
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
Resting place Toowong Cemetery
Spouse(s) Margaret Smith

William Neil (Neal) Gillies (27 October 1868 – 9 February 1928) was ALP Premier of Queensland, Australia, from 26 February 1925 to 22 October 1925.

Gillies was born in Eccleston, New South Wales (in the Allen River district), the son of Dougald Gillies, farmer, and his wife Mary (née Gillies), both parents being Scottish immigrants. Gillies was educated at local schools and in 1882 went with his parents to the Village of Tintenbar[1] in the Richmond River country. There he took up farming including sugar-cane growing, and began to be interested in public affairs. He was an active member of the anti-alien league, and afterwards became president of the New South Wales sugar growers defence league. In the federal election of 1910 he stood unsuccessfully as a Labour candidate for the Richmond seat, and was again defeated when he stood for the New South Wales Legislative Assembly in the same district.

In 1911 Gillies took up land in Queensland and in 1912 won the Eacham seat for Labour in the Legislative Assembly of Queensland despite a charge of falsely stating his period of residence on an electoral claim. He held this seat until his retirement from politics. He was assistant-minister for justice in the Thomas J. Ryan ministry from 25

William Gillies' headstone at Brisbane's Toowong Cemetery.

April 1918 to September 1919 and for a few weeks until 22 October, was secretary for agriculture and stock. He held the last position in the Ted Theodore ministry from October 1919, and his practical experience as a farmer was found to be of great use. Many amendments were made in existing legislation relating to agriculture and no fewer than 14 new measures were passed. This period was marked by the establishment of the cotton industry and the stabilization of the sugar and farming industries. On the resignation of Theodore, Gillies became premier on 26 February 1925, taking the positions of chief secretary and treasurer, and vice-president of the executive council. He was premier during a period of great labour unrest with constantly occurring strikes. Gillies was a man of moderate views and he found the more extreme section of the party very active, and he was beset with anxieties. He compromised as much as possible, but on 27 October 1925 was glad to resign and become a member of the newly established board of trade and arbitration. He gave much study to the problems to be dealt with and carried out his work with conspicuous fairness. He, however, felt the strain very much and died suddenly on 9 February 1928. He married in 1900 Margaret Smith who survived him with a son and a daughter.

The Gillies Highway in Far North Queensland was named after William Neil Gillies as he founded the Main Roads Board, which subsequently became the Department of Main Roads (now part of the Department of Transport and Main Roads).


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Political offices
Preceded by
E.G. Theodore
Premier of Queensland
Succeeded by
William McCormack
Party political offices
Preceded by
Ted Theodore
Leader of the Labor Party in Queensland
Succeeded by
William McCormack
Parliament of Queensland
Preceded by
New Division
Member for Eacham
Succeeded by
Cornelius Ryan