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John Trezise Tonkin (Labor)

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John Tonkin March 3 1971 to April 8, 1974

John Tonkin was born in Boulder in 1902 and was a teacher before he entered politics.

He was the only Labor Premier born in WA up until 1981. He was a staunch Labor supporter and set up a branch of the Australian Labor Party in Forest Grove in 1923. He was one of the youngest delegates elected to the ALP's State Executive. He had two unsuccessful attempts at entering Parliament before winning the seat of North-East Fremantle in 1933. During his time in Parliament he served as Minister for Education, Social Services, Agriculture and Works, and Water Supplies.

He became Deputy Premier in 1955 under Bert Hawke. In 1967, he was elected leader of the Opposition and became the first person from a metropolitan electorate to hold that position since Daglish's year in office in 1904-1905.

Tonkin led Labor to victory at the elections in 1971.

Tonkin's period in office is remembered as a period of social reform - among other firsts, establishing the Aboriginal Lands Trust and the Environmental Protection Council.

His government gave WA the distinction of being the first in the nation to create an office of the ombudsman. It also reduced the minimum voting age to 18.

He was also renowned for his support of the Tronado anti-cancer machine and for opposing the use of flouride in Perth's water supply.

Tonkin's government was defeated in 1974.


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.