Adelaide, McGann [Photographer], 1899.
A sepia-toned gelatin silver group portrait photograph (image size 269 × 360 mm, on the original mount, external dimensions 403 × 500 mm); mounted on the image are two circular portraits (39 mm diameter) of members of the party absent when the group portrait was taken (W.J. Blackler and A.H. Peake). The title is printed above the image; all present (and the photographer) are identified in print below the image. The mount is a little marked and chipped around the edges, with minor loss to one corner tip; it is also unevenly tanned, with minor surface blemishes, where an old window mat has been removed (beforehand, only the photograph was visible). The photograph itself is in excellent condition. The caption should more accurately read 'the 15th Parliament of South Australia'.
Provenance: Archibald Henry Peake (1859-1920), Premier of South Australia on three occasions (1909-1910, 1912-1915 and 1917-1920; he died in office on 6 April 1920). The details 'Mr Peake / Parl' are written in ink on the verso. The main group in the photograph comprises, from left to right, W.P. Cummins, J.W. Shannon, C.M.R. Dumas, D. Moody, R.W. Foster, T. Burgoyne, J. Miller, Captain Randell, J. McLachlan, and J.T. Morris. 1899 was an election year in South Australia. A parochial newspaper ('The Port Pirie Recorder and North Western Mail') refers to the Independent Party in a short article on 8 March 1899: 'The even balance of parties during the fifteenth Parliament has robbed it of any opportunity to indulge in heroic legislation. By cleverly playing off the Independent Party against the Labor Party and vice versa, Mr [Charles Cameron] Kingston, with the aid of the Opposition, has established a record for the longevity of his premiership Ministry'. Archibald Peak entered parliament in 1897, 'at first as an Independent ... A representative of small-farmer radicalism, Peake supported Kingston's government, declaring in his maiden speech that "the cry of socialism had lost its terrors for him - the State should do for the people what they as individuals could not do so well for themselves"' ('Australian Dictionary of Biography'). The year ended badly for Kingston. 'In December 1899 a group of members including Playford, his political mentor who looked upon him almost as a son, crossed the floor and the Kingston ministry was defeated by one vote. Kingston requested the governor, Lord Tennyson, to dissolve the parliament so that he could appeal to the people. The governor did not act on Kingston's advice but sent for the mover of the adverse motion, Thomas Burgoyne, who declined the offer, and then for V.L. Solomon who succeeded in forming a ministry. This is the last-known occasion on which a governor of South Australia refused a premier's request for a dissolution of the House of Assembly.... Kingston resigned his seat in the assembly in February 1900' (ADB). 'From 1899 Peake supported Holder's Liberal ministry. In 1901 he warned Holder's successor, Jenkins, that his government must enact progressive legislation or lose the support of the Labor Party and Liberals. Jenkins, however, increasingly co-operated with the Australasian National League, the conservative Opposition, and in 1904 took its representatives into his ministry. The Peake group of about fifteen members became the Liberal Party and the official Opposition. Peake sought a Liberal-Labor alliance: "the only difference between us is a difference of degree and of speed". Between them the two parties won a six-seat majority at the 1905 election and formed a coalition with two ministers from each party. Since Labor held more seats, its leader Thomas Price became premier, with Peake as treasurer and attorney-general (South Australia's first without legal training) and, occasionally, acting premier' (ADB). An interesting aside: Captain William Richard Randell (1824-1911) achieved lasting fame when he became the first to navigate the River Murray by steamer in 1853.