Sydney Smith (Australian politician)

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The Honourable
Sydney Smith
SydneySmith (Australia).jpg
Member of the Australian Parliament
for Macquarie
In office
29 March 1901 – 12 December 1906
Preceded by New seat
Succeeded by Ernest Carr
Personal details
Born (1856-04-11)11 April 1856
Colyton, New South Wales
Died 21 February 1934(1934-02-21) (aged 77)
Nationality Australian
Political party Free Trade Party
Occupation Grazier

Sydney Smith (11 April 1856 – 21 February 1934) was an early Australian politician.

Early years[edit]

Born in Colyton, near Penrith, west of Sydney, the son of a hotel keeper, Smith was educated at public schools before gaining work with the railways. Following his marriage in 1879, Smith turned to auctioneering and grazing before following his brother, Thomas Richard, into Parliament.

State politics[edit]

Smith was first elected to the New South Wales Legislative Assembly in 1882, representing East Macquarie until its abolition in 1894 and then ran for nearby Bathurst. Described as "tall, spare and bearded" but "not renowned for his oratory skills", the non-smoking teetotaller was made Secretary for Mines by Henry Parkes in 1889 and the inaugural Secretary for Agriculture in 1890, in which position he founded Hawkesbury Agricultural College. He also found the time to serve as Mayor of Leichhardt Municipal Council from 1888–89.[1]

Smith lost his seat by 103 votes at the 1898 New South Wales election when he ran on what many considered to be an anti-federalist stance and ran unsuccessfully against Edmund Barton for Hastings and Macleay in a by-election later that same year before returning to the New South Wales Legislative Assembly in a by-election for Canterbury on 9 June 1900. However, his victory (by five votes) was declared void and Smith was defeated at the subsequently reheld by-election on 28 July 1900.[1]

Federal politics[edit]

While not a parliamentarian, Smith served on the executive of the Free Trade Party and began planning his campaign for a seat in the new federal parliament. He decided to contest Macquarie at the first federal election in 1901 but was given little chance of victory by observers and the local press, who pointed to his earlier anti-federal views and his recent electoral losses as proof that he exercised little influence amongst the electorate. Smith however gained the endorsement of the local branch of the influential Loyal Orange Lodge and the support of Free Trade Party leader George Reid, who enjoyed a large personal support amongst voters.

Following his election, Smith served as a senior member of the Free Trade Party in opposition before helping to engineer the downfall of the Chris Watson government and its replacement by George Reid as Prime Minister. Widely considered Reid’s most faithful henchman during his time in parliament, Smith was made Postmaster-General by Reid but retired from political life following his defeat at the 1906 elections.

Smith died in Sydney on 21 February 1934, preceded by his wife and youngest son, killed during the Gallipoli landings. Smith’s eldest son, also named Sydney, served as President of the New South Wales Cricket Association from 1935–66.[2]


  1. ^ a b "The Hon. Sydney Smith (1856–1934)". Former members. Parliament of New South Wales. Retrieved 2 January 2012. 
  2. ^ Rutledge, Martha (1988). "Smith, Sydney (1856–1934)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Canberra: Australian National University. Retrieved 16 February 2010. 


Civic offices
Preceded by
Benjamin Robert Moore
Mayor of Leichhardt
Succeeded by
Benjamin Robert Moore
Parliament of New South Wales
Preceded by
Alfred Pechey
Member for East Macquarie
Served alongside: Combes/Shepherd/Tonkin
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Francis Suttor
Member for Bathurst
Succeeded by
Francis Suttor
Preceded by
Varney Parkes
Member for Canterbury
Succeeded by
Thomas Taylor
Parliament of Australia
New division Member for Macquarie
Succeeded by
Ernest Carr
Political offices
Preceded by
Hugh Mahon
Succeeded by
Austin Chapman