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His Excellency Sir James Mitchell (Nationalist)

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Sir James MitchellMay 17 1919 - April 15 1924 and April 24 1930 - April 24 1933

Sir James Mitchell was born at Dardanup on Paradise Farm. His father was a well-known farmer in the Bunbury district.

Sir James holds a unique distinction in WA political history as the only Premier who became a Governor of the State.

He started out as a junior clerk in a Bunbury bank after finishing school and ended up being appointed manager of the Bank at Northam. He resigned from the bank in 1905 on winning the Legislative Assembly seat of Northam. He held that seat for 28 years.

He was appointed a Minister early in his political career and held portfolios related to land administration in the Moore, Wilson and Colebatch governments.

On May 17, 1919, he was appointed Premier and took on the important post-war portfolios of land and repatriation. He resigned his first term as Premier in 1924 after his government was defeated at the polls. When Premier Phillip Collier was defeated in 1930, Sir James was returned as Premier and Treasurer for the next three years.

At the 1933 election, Sir James' government was tossed out and he also lost his seat of Northam to former Prime Minister Bob Hawke's uncle Albert Hawke.

Interestingly, on the same day as the Mitchell Government was defeated, voters accepted, by referendum, a proposal for WA to secede from the federation. The new Collier government despatched the secession petition to Westminster, where the British Parliament refused to act on it.

Just three months after his electoral defeat, Sir James was appointed Lieutenant-Governor of WA but it took 14 years - after a number of Australians had been appointed to other State governor offices - for him to be appointed to the top job.

He held the office of Governor until he retired in 1951 at 85 years of age. His life ended suddenly when he died just a month later in a Railway Department Vice-Regal coach at Glen Mervyn near Donnybrook.

 

Acknowledgement of Country

The Government of Western Australia acknowledges the traditional custodians throughout Western Australia and their continuing connection to the land, waters and community. We pay our respects to all members of the Aboriginal communities and their cultures; and to Elders both past and present.