Alfred Deakin (3 August 1856 – 7 October 1919) was an Australian politician who served as the second Prime Minister of Australia, in office for three separate terms – 1903 to 1904, 1905 to 1908, and 1909 to 1910.
Prior to entering office he was a leader of the movement for Australian federation.Deakin was born in Melbourne, and attended the University of Melbourne before training as a barrister.
He was elected to the Victorian Legislative Assembly in 1879, aged 22, and became a government minister in 1883.
He was a major contributor to the establishment of liberal reforms in the colony, including pro-worker industrial reforms, and also played a major part in developing irrigation in Australia.
Throughout the 1890s Deakin was a participant in conferences of representatives of the Australian colonies that were established to draft a constitution for the proposed federation.
He played an important role in ensuring that the draft was liberal and democratic, and in achieving compromises to enable its eventual success.
Between conferences he worked to popularise the concept of federation, and campaigned for its acceptance in colonial referenda.
He then fought hard to ensure acceptance of the proposed constitution by the Government of the United Kingdom.
After Federation, Deakin was Attorney-General in the Barton Government from 1901 to 1903.
He was one of the chief architects of the White Australia policy, overseeing the drafting of the Immigration Restriction Act 1901.
As Prime Minister, Deakin completed a significant legislative program that makes him, with Labor's Andrew Fisher, the founder of an effective Commonwealth government.
He expanded the High Court, supported the allocation of major funding for the purchase of ships leading to the establishment of the Royal Australian Navy as a significant force under the Fisher government, and established Australian control of Papua.
Confronted by the rising Australian Labor Party in 1909, he merged his Protectionist Party with Joseph Cook's Anti-Socialist Party to create the Commonwealth Liberal Party (a party known commonly as the Fusion), the main ancestor of the modern Liberal Party of Australia.
The Deakin-led Liberal Party government lost to Fisher's Labor at the 1910 election, which was the first time a federal political party had been elected with a majority in either house in Federal Parliament.
Deakin resigned from Parliament prior to the 1913 election; Cook won the Liberal Party leadership ballot.