Richard O’Connor was a member of the first Federal Ministry.
He was born in Sydney and graduated as a lawyer in 1871. He became a Clerk to the Legislative Council in NSW, studied law, and was called to the bar in 1876. He was known as a sound lawyer and he built up a successful practice. He was also a well-known journalist writing for Irish-Australian and Catholic magazines.
A Protectionist, O'Connor was a member of the New South Wales Legislative Council 1887–98. He was Minister for Justice 1891–93 and Solicitor-General 1893. He was made a QC in 1896, and in the same year was a member of the People's Federal Convention held at Bathurst.
O’Connor was an earnest advocate for federation and was elected one of the New South Wales’ representatives for the convention of 1897–98.
He was a member at this convention with Sir Edmund Barton and Sir John Downer of the drafting committee which prepared the federation Bill. This Bill, along with some amendments, eventually became the federal Constitution.
O'Connor was elected to the Australian Senate in 1901 as a Senator for New South Wales and he was made vice-president of the Executive Council in 1901-03 in the Ministry of Edmund Barton. In 1903, he was appointed as a foundation Justice of the High Court of Australia, where he served until his death in 1912.