William Gillies (Australian politician)

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The Hon
William Gillies
William Gillies 1920.jpg
21st Premier of Queensland
In office
26 February 1925 – 22 October 1925
Governor Matthew Nathan
Preceded by Ted Theodore
Succeeded by William McCormack
Constituency Eacham
26th Treasurer of Queensland
In office
26 February 1925 – 22 October 1925
Preceded by Ted Theodore
Succeeded by William McCormack
Constituency Eacham
Member of the Queensland Legislative Assembly
for Eacham
In office
27 April 1912 – 24 October 1925
Preceded by New seat
Succeeded by Cornelius Ryan
Personal details
Born (1868-10-27)27 October 1868
Eccleston, New South Wales
Died 9 February 1928(1928-02-09) (aged 59)
Toowong, Brisbane, Queensland,
Resting place Toowong Cemetery
Political party Australian Labor Party
Spouse(s) Margaret Smith
Relations Robert Gillies (brother)
Occupation Farmer

William Neal Gillies (27 October 1868 – 9 February 1928)[1] was ALP Premier of Queensland from 26 February 1925 to 22 October 1925.[2]

Early life[edit]

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[3] in the Richmond River country. There he took up farming including sugar-cane growing, and began to be interested in public affairs.[1]

In 1900, Gillies married Margaret Smith.[1]

Political career[edit]

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[1] seat, and was again defeated when he stood for the New South Wales Legislative Assembly in the same district.[1]

Late in 1910[1] Gillies took up land in Queensland and in 1912 won the Eacham seat for Labour[2] in the Legislative Assembly of Queensland despite a charge of falsely stating his period of residence on an electoral claim.[1] He held this seat until his retirement from politics.[2]

Gillies was assistant-minister for justice in the Thomas J. Ryan ministry from 25 April 1918 to September 1919[1] 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 till February 1925,[2] 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.

William Gillies' headstone at Brisbane's Toowong Cemetery.

On the resignation of Theodore, Gillies became premier on 26 February 1925, taking the positions of chief secretary and treasurer,[2] 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.[1] 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.[1]


Gillies was accorded a State funeral[4] which took place from St Andrew's Presbyterian Church to his burial place at Toowong Cemetery.[5][6]

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).


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Gillies, William Neil (1868–1928)Australian Dictionary of Biography. Retrieved 6 January 2015.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Gillies, William Neal". Parliament of Queensland. 2015. Retrieved 10 December 2017. 
  3. ^ Aliens of the Tweed and Brunswick ancestory.com
  4. ^ "STATE FUNERAL". The Brisbane Courier. National Library of Australia. 10 February 1928. p. 17. Retrieved 7 January 2015. 
  5. ^ "Family Notices". The Brisbane Courier. National Library of Australia. 10 February 1928. p. 14. Retrieved 7 January 2015. 
  6. ^ Gillies William Neal — Brisbane City Council Grave Location Search. Retrieved 7 January 2015.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Ted 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 seat
Member for Eacham
Succeeded by
Cornelius Ryan