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28-November-2018 (John Huth)
28-November-2018 (John Huth)

Photographs supplied by Diane Watson / Russell Byers / John Huth

The statue commemorates Thomas Joseph Ryan (1876 - 1921), the former Premier of Queensland who clashed with Prime Minister Billy Hughes over conscription in World War One. He was also a supporter of the Irish revolution.

Ryan had joined the Labor Party in 1904, becoming Premier in 1915 to 1919 and leader of the first Queensland Labor government with a clear majority in the Legislative Assembly. Ryan is well known for his stance against conscription during the World War One and particularly for the "Warwick Egg Incident" in 1917.

During this incident Prime Minister Billy Hughes who supported conscription and was in the final days of the second conscription referendum campaign had his hat dislodged by eggs thrown from the crowd. The media at the time exaggerated the incident, implying that the Prime Minister had been assaulted and had received no assistance from the police officer in charge. This in turn was interpreted as evidence of the lawlessness of the Queensland government.

Despite Hughes' best efforts to tarnish Ryan's reputation and canvas support for conscription, the second referendum was defeated by a larger majority than the first and Ryan became a hero to the anti-conscription movement.

Ryan was asked by a resolution of a special federal conference to enter federal politics, the only occasion that such a motion has been passed. He was Campaign Director for the Labor Party during the 1919 Federal election and was elected to the House of Representatives in the Federal Parliament as the Member for West Sydney. He had been widely touted as a likely Labor leader before his premature death.  In July 1921 he set out to campaign for the Labor candidate William Dunstan in the by-election for the Federal seat of Maranoa ; he was sick at the start and during the long trip his condition worsened. On 1 August 1921 he died in Glenco Hospital, Barcaldine, Queensland, of pneumonia. His body was taken by train to Brisbane, past crowds gathered at each station.

The statue of the late Mr T J. Ryan, K.C., M.H.R.,which has been erected in the Queens Garden at the intersection of Elizabeth and William streets, will be unveiled on Sunday next, at 3.30 p.m. by his Excellency the Governor Sir Matthew Nathan. It is expected that there will be a large public gathering on the occasion Members of the Brisbane Municipal Concert Band will render musical selections in the Queen's Garden from 3 p.m. In addition to the occasional address by his Excellency, speeches will be delivered by Mr. Frank M'Donnell (chairman of the Statue Committee), Mr W. N. Gillies (Premier), Chief Justice J. W. Blair, Mr. M J Kirwan (Minister for Works), and Alderman M. J Barry (Mayor of Brisbane).  Arrangements have been made with the Queensland Radio Service for broadcasting the speeches.
The Brisbane Courier (Qld), 4 September 1925.


Address:Elizabeth & George Streets, Queens Park, Brisbane, 4000
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -27.472222
Long: 153.023611
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
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Monument Type:Statue
Monument Theme:People
Sub-Theme:Government - State
Artist:Sir Edgar Bertram Mackennal


Actual Monument Dedication Date:Sunday 6th September, 1925
Front Inscription

Thomas Joseph Ryan
1876 - 1921

Scholar  Jurist  Statesman
Premier of Queensland, 1915 - 19.

The life that ceased in mid-career the light of other men shall be,  
With purpose high and conscience clear who`ll seek to serve the State as he.

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