The Rt. Hon. Sir George Houstoun Reid, KCMG, KC (1845–1918)

No 004 Reid by Alison Alder

No 004 Reid by Alison Alder.

Scottish born George Reid  holds a unique position among Australian political leaders, having been a representative in colonial, Commonwealth and British legislatures

Elected to the New South Wales Legislative Assembly in 1880, Reid served for almost 20 years in the colonial Parliament, serving as Minister for Public Instruction, Attorney-General, Treasurer and Premier.  He played a key role in Australia’s federal story, being dubbed ‘Yes-No Reid for his ambivalent approach to the 1896 Constitutional Referendum.  Elected to the House of Representatives as member for East Sydney in March 1901, Reid was the first federal Leader of the Opposition before becoming Prime Minister for some ten months (18 August 1904 to 5 July 1905).

Reid retired from Parliament in 1909 to become Australia’s first High Commissioner to London. In 1916 he was elected unopposed to Britain’s House of Commons representing St George’s, Hanover Square.


Further Portraiture

George Houstoun Reid by John Campbell Longstaff, Historic Memorials Collection, Parliament House Art Collection


George Houstoun Reid – forgotten founder: Australia’s fourth prime minister [PDF 16.8 MB] by Dr. David Headon

Australia's first Parliament: Her Majesty's loyal opposition Dianne Heriot, Parliamentary Library Flagpost blog, 12 February 2019

Sir George Houstoun Reid (1845-1918): Premier, Prime Minister, High Commissioner, and Member of the UK House of Commons by Dr Nathan Church, Flagpost, Parliamentary Library blog


Forgotten founder—George Houstoun Reid [MP4 227MB]
Dr David Headon—Parliamentary Library Fellow, Australian National University

Publications and Events of partner organisations

Centenary Lecture: Sir George Reid, Australia House (September 2018)

Speakers Corner: A Man for All Seasons and book launch of Capital Designs (March 2019)

Australia House, London (May 2019)