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Kerr, George (1853–1930)

Mr. George Kerr, formerly member of Parliament for Barcoo, from May, 1893 until 1909, and Minister for Railways from July, 1907, until October, 1908, died at his residence, West End, on Saturday, at the age of 75 years. The late Mr. Kerr belonged to the strenuous days of politics in the Queensland Parliament. He was returned at the same election that sent to Parliament for the first time a number of notable men, including Mr. (afterwards the Right Hon.) Andrew Fisher, and Messrs. H. Turley, Matthew Reid, George Jackson, H. F. Hardacre, Charles (better known as Charlie) McDonald (subsequently Speaker of the House of Representatives). John Leahy, W. D. Armstrong, J. V. Chataway, Andrew Petrie, and a number of others, who became prominent in the State Parliament, and some in the Federal Parliament. One of Mr. Kerr's closest friends in the House was Mr. Peter Airey, who, for some years, represented an adjoining Western constituency, and was a colleague in two Kidston Ministries.

The late Mr. Kerr was born at Beadnell, in Northumberland (England), in the year 1854. He was trained as a blacksmith, and migrated to Queensland about 45 years’ ago. He knocked about New South Wales and Queensland after his arrival, tackling first one thing, then another, and finally he settled down as a blacksmith in Croydon, moving on subsequently to Tambo. Strongly imbued, as became a good Northumbrian, with Radical doctrines, Mr. Kerr, who was a very popular man in the West, was nominated in the Labour interests in 1893 for the Barcoo, and won that constituency by a narrow margin, after a most strenuous battle, retaining the seat until 1909, when he was defeated by T. J. Ryan, who afterwards became Premier of Queensland. When the great split took place in Queensland Labour ranks in 1907, Mr, Kerr, in common with Messrs. George Jackson, Peter Airey, John Mann, William Murphy, and others, threw in his lot with Mr. Kidston, and paid for his independence of spirit two years later. The deceased gentleman was a notable Friendly Society man, a member of the Foresters, and of the Freemasons (Leichhardt Lodge), and a frequent representative at Friendly Society Conferences.

Mr. Kerr was rather renowned in the Labour circles of his day for his homely wit and humour, and a certain strain of rugged eloquence, and he was, moreover, deeply respected by all parties for his rectitude and unfailing honesty of deed and purpose. It can be truly said that the Labour movement of 30 years ago owed much of its vigour and vitality to the presence in its ranks of men of the stamp of stalwart George Kerr—a name that was once a household word in Western Queensland. The Methodist Church loses a loyal adherent in the deceased gentleman.

Since leaving Parliament the late Mr. Kerr engaged in pastoral and grazing pursuits in the Longreach and Cloncurry districts.

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'Kerr, George (1853–1930)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/kerr-george-557/text558, accessed 12 December 2018.

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