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Photographs supplied by Stephen Warren

The plaque commemorates Tom Price who was the first Labour Premier for South Australia from 1905 to 1909.

The trees were planted in the reserve in 1907 and was known as Price Avenue in his honour. In 2019, a plaque was unveiled in the reserve in memory of Tom Price and details his achievements. 

Thomas Price (1852-1909), was born on 19 January 1852 at Harwd Brymbo, Denbighshire, Wales.  Tom's childhood was impoverished: his father failed to find regular employment because of intemperance. Thomas embraced total abstinence and Wesleyan Methodism, and eventually convinced his father of their virtues. Tom was educated, until he began work at 9, at the St George Church of England Penny School, Everton, and later at evening classes in a mechanics' institute. He became a teacher, lay preacher and superintendent at his Boundary Street Sunday school. Apprenticed to a stonecutter, he eventually became an employer of a score of men. He pursued social issues through slum work and membership of the Liberal Reform Association and the Irish Home Rule League.

His lungs were affected by stone-cutting, so they migrated to South Australia in 1883. Tom worked as a stonemason and cut the stone and shaped the marble capitals on the columns of the new Parliament House. Later he was clerk of works responsible for building the government railway workshops at Islington, but was dismissed when he became a parliamentary candidate. He remained an active Methodist, was a Rechabite and Freemason, and also joined the Mitcham Literary Society and the Union Parliament. He belonged to the Operative Masons' and Bricklayers' Society of Australia, becoming South Australian secretary and president (1887), and from 1890 delegate to the United Trades and Labor Council; he was also a founder of the Building Trades Council and the Democratic Club.

In 1891 Tom Price joined the United Labor Party and assisted in that year's election campaign. Two years later he won the seat of Sturt (Torrens from 1902), becoming one of ten U.L.P. men in the House of Assembly. He advocated improved workers' accommodation, land reform, compulsory education and votes for women.

Price and the U.L.P. supported the reformist liberal governments of Kingston and Holder from 1893 till 1901. Price described this period as getting 'a little, and then a little more of what one wanted'. In 1899 he replaced Egerton Batchelor as party leader. A member of the Central Agricultural Bureau in 1897-1900, Price broadened the party's base from the urban craft unions to include small farmers; he travelled and established branches in the country, where he knew the party must win seats to govern. He also developed a co-operative approach to employers. These practices upset the party's radical elements, led by the Australian Workers' Union, who wanted the U.L.P. to be solely a working-class party.

Price became frustrated by the failings of South Australia's Liberal ministries. Convinced that a true reformist government could only be achieved by a U.L.P. victory, he led it into the 1905 election. It was a triumph. The party increased its representation from 5 to 15, winning 11 of the 12 city seats with a policy of development and progress, expansion of business and honest government.  With the support of 8 Liberals headed by Archibald Peake, Price forced (Sir) Richard Butler's government to resign. The Labor leader formed a coalition with Peake and on 26 July became premier.

Important legislation was passed such as for the formation of wages boards, a minimum wage and nationalization of several companies to establish the Municipal Tramways Trust; the costly administration of the Northern Territory was surrendered to the Federal government and free state secondary schools were introduced. These steps signified an evolutionary approach to attaining social justice, which Price believed was the role of the Labor Party; he had established it as the major party in the assembly by demonstrating its capacity for responsible government.

He had a recuperative visit to England was arranged in 1908. Price spoke at public meetings in London, Bristol, Hull, Liverpool and elsewhere. He confessed to being 'both a Colonial Nationalist and an Imperialist', who 'now finds his Liberal and Radical friends eying him askance' when he endorsed protection and universal military training. The Anti-Sweating League gave him a reception.

Price continued to weaken. He died of phthisis and diabetes at Mount Lofty on 31 May 1909 and, after a state funeral, was buried in Mitcham cemetery. Both sides in politics admired his commitment to South Australia and the fact that he had remained true to his origins.




Address:Cuthbert Street, Brownhill Creek Recreation Park, Mitcham, 5062
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -34.983116
Long: 138.625146
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
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Monument Type:Plaque
Monument Theme:People
Sub-Theme:Government - State


Actual Monument Dedication Date:Tuesday 17th September, 2019
Front Inscription

The Hon. Tom Price MP (1852 - 1909)
South Australia`s first Labor Premier (1905 - 1909)

From stonecutter to Premier, Tom led a Labor - Liberal coalition government, which reformed South Australia and left a legacy that enriches our lives today.

On 29 June 1907 Tom planted the first plane tree in this avenue of trees, dedicated in his honour by Mitcham Council.

Tom established the State Tourist Bureau in 1908, an authority that constructed this stone monument and park tourist facilities here in 1954.

Beloved by the people of South Australia, Tom died in office on 31 May 1909 and is buried in Mitcham Cemetery overlooking Brownhill Creek Recreation Park.

Unveiled by the Hon. Steven Marshall MP Premier of South Australia, on 17 September 2019




Source: MA,ADB
Monument details supplied by Monument Australia - www.monumentaustralia.org.au
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