Alexander Poynton

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The Honourable
Alexander Poynton
Alexander Poynton.jpg
Member of the Australian Parliament
for South Australia
In office
30 March 1901 – 16 December 1903
Serving with Lee Batchelor, Langdon Bonython, Paddy Glynn, Frederick Holder, Charles Kingston, Vaiben Louis Solomon
Preceded by New seat
Succeeded by Seat abolished
Member of the Australian Parliament
for Grey
In office
16 December 1903 – 16 December 1922
Preceded by New seat
Succeeded by Andrew Lacey
Personal details
Born (1853-08-08)8 August 1853
Castlemaine, Victoria
Died 9 January 1935(1935-01-09) (aged 81)
Toorak Gardens, South Australia
Nationality Australian
Political party Ind. Labor (1893–1901)
Free Trade (1901–02)
Labor (1902–16)
National Labor (1916–17)
Nationalist (1917–22)
Spouse(s) Harriet Brown
Occupation Shearer, miner

Alexander Poynton, OBE, (8 August 1853 – 9 January 1935) was an Australian politician. He was a member of the South Australian House of Assembly from 1893 to 1901, representing Flinders. He was an inaugural member of the Australian House of Representatives from 1901, representing South Australia until 1903 and Grey thereafter until his defeat in 1922.

Early life[edit]

Born in Castlemaine, Victoria to Alexander, who took part in the Eureka Stockade rebellion, and Rosanna Poynton, Poynton left school at 14 to work as a shearer, station-hand and miner, and marry Harriet Brown on 15 July 1880 in Ballarat before moving to South Australia in 1887 and settling in Port Augusta, where he founded the South Australian Shearers Union in 1888.



With his support in the labour movement, Poynton unsuccessfully stood for the South Australian House of Assembly seat of Newcastle at the 1890 election, before his election to the adjacent seat of Flinders at the 1893 election, serving as an Independent Labor MP.[1] As an Independent Labor MP he attended the United Labor Party caucus meetings without being bound by its decisions, but supported it in divisions.[2]

By 1899, however, disaffection with Premier Charles Kingston led him to cross the floor with four others to defeat his ministry, citing Kingston's overbearing nature and his tardiness in implementing adequate land reforms as motives. His actions earned him a place as Commissioner for Crown Lands in the Solomon ministry in 1899, which lasted only eight days. Poynton's decisive role in ousting Kingston lost him many Labor friends.[2]

He served in the House of Assembly until 1901.[2]


In 1901 Poynton successfully stood for the Australian House of Representatives in the inaugural federal election as a Free Trade Party member for the Division of South Australia (which was not divided into electorates). Though labelled a Free Trader, he was actually an Australasian National League (National Defence League) candidate. However, in 1902 he became a pledged Labor member. At the 1903 election, South Australia was split into single-member electorates, and Poynton was elected as the first member for the Division of Grey in the vast northern region of South Australia.[2]

During his time in parliament Poynton served variously as a member of the royal commission on stripper harvesters, chairman of committees, Treasurer, Minister for Home and Territories and Postmaster-General. Among his political achievements was the establishment of a railway between Port Augusta and Western Australia, for which he lobbied nearly 18 years.

During fiery internal party debates on the issue of conscription during World War I, Poynton became a strong conscriptionist. Along with several other pro-conscription Labor members, he left the party in November 1916 in support of Labor leader and Prime Minister Billy Hughes to help found first the National Labor Party and later the Nationalist Party. Appointed OBE in 1920 for his work on repatriation issues, Poynton was defeated at the 1922 election.


He died in Toorak Gardens and was buried in North Road Cemetery. His wife, a son and four daughters survived him.



Political offices
Preceded by
William Higgs
Treasurer of Australia
Succeeded by
Sir John Forrest
Preceded by
Paddy Glynn
Minister for Home and Territories
Succeeded by
George Pearce
Preceded by
George Wise
Succeeded by
William Gibson
Parliament of Australia
New division Member for South Australia
Served alongside: Batchelor, Bonython,
Glynn, Holder, Kingston, Solomon
Divided into single-
member divisions
New division Member for Grey
Succeeded by
Andrew Lacey