Sir Joseph Cook, (7 December 1860 – 30 July 1947) was an Australian politician who served as the sixth Prime Minister of Australia, in office from 1913 to 1914.
He was the leader of the Commonwealth Liberal Party from 1913 to 1917, after earlier serving as the leader of the Anti-Socialist Party from 1908 to 1909.Cook was born in Silverdale, Staffordshire, England, and began working in the local coal mines at the age of nine.
He emigrated to Australia in 1885, settling in Lithgow, New South Wales.
He continued to work as a miner, becoming involved with the local labour movement as a union official.
In 1891, Cook was elected to the New South Wales Legislative Assembly as a representative of the Labor Party, becoming one of its first members of parliament.
He was elected party leader in 1893, but the following year left Labor due to a disagreement over party discipline.
He was then invited to become a government minister under George Reid, and joined Reid's Free Trade Party.
In 1901, Cook was elected to the new federal parliament representing the Division of Parramatta.
He became deputy leader of the federal Free Trade Party (later renamed the Anti-Socialist Party), again under George Reid, and in 1908 replaced Reid as party leader and Leader of the Opposition.
In what became known as "the fusion", Cook agreed to merge his party with Alfred Deakin's Protectionist Party in 1909, forming a unified anti-Labor party for the first time.
He became deputy leader of the new Commonwealth Liberal Party, allowing Deakin to become prime minister again, and served as Minister for Defence until the government's defeat at the 1910 election.
Cook replaced Deakin as leader of the Liberals in January 1913, and a few months later won a one-seat majority over Andrew Fisher's Labor Party at the 1913 election.
His party failed to secure a majority in the Senate, making governing difficult, and as a result he engineered the first double dissolution.
A new election was called for September 1914, at which the Liberals lost their majority; Fisher returned as prime minister.
Cook was unable to pass much legislation during his time in office, but did oversee the early stages of Australia's involvement in World War I.
He subsequently became Leader of the Opposition for a third time.
In 1917, Cook was involved in a second party merger, joining the Liberals with Billy Hughes's National Labor Party to form the Nationalist Party.
He became the de facto deputy prime minister under Hughes, serving as Minister for the Navy (1917–1920) and Treasurer (1920–1921).
He was a delegate to the 1919 Paris Peace Conference, where he was a member of the committee that determined the borders of Czechoslovakia, and along with Hughes was one of two Australians to sign the Treaty of Versailles.
After leaving politics, Cook served as High Commissioner to the United Kingdom from 1921 to 1927.
He died at the age of 86 as one of the last survivors of the first federal parliament.