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The last man: the making of Andrew Fisher and the Australian Labor Party

Professor David Day

Recorded 25 October 2007, National Museum of Australia


As Australian prime minister, Andrew Fisher established the Australian Capital Territory, named the wattle as Australia's national flower and sent troops to Gallipoli, vowing to back Britain 'to the last man and the last shilling'.

Under his leadership the construction of the transcontinental railway building began and aged and invalid pensions and maternity allowances were introduced.

Yet Fisher's years as prime minister are largely forgotten.

On the eve of the centenary since Fisher's first government in 1908, Professor David Day examines Fisher's pivotal role as a nation builder and why his achievements have been previously overlooked.


Professor David Day is a noted historian who has held academic positions in Australia and overseas.

He was the inaugural National Museum of Australia Director's Fellow in 2007, and used his time in Canberra to delve into Fisher's private papers at the National Library of Australia.

Professor Day has written broadly on Australian history. His analysis of Australian and Allied politics during the Second World War includes Menzies and Churchill at War, The Great Betrayal and Reluctant Nation.

Professor Day has also written biographies of two Australian Prime Ministers, John Curtin and Ben Chifley; a general history of Australia, Claiming a Continent; and, on an even broader scale, Conquest: A New History of the Modern World.

Professor Day's latest book is The Weather Watchers: A Centenary History of the Australian Bureau of Meteorology.

He currently holds the post of Professor of Australian Studies at the Centre for Pacific and American Studies at the University of Tokyo in Japan.