Time icon

Parliament House is currently

Charles Carty Salmon

View full image

Speaker, 28 July 1909 to 19 February 1910
Protectionist Party, 1901 to 1910
Liberal Party (Commonwealth), 1910 to 1917
Nationalist Party, 1917

Carty Salmon (1860-1917), Australia’s second Speaker, led an active public life. He was highly regarded for his service to the community, and for his genial and pleasant manner, a quality which served him better as a private member than as a Presiding Officer.1

Born in Amherst, Victoria, Salmon was the sixth child of English immigrants. He attended Scotch College, Melbourne, and after graduation worked at his uncle’s tobacco importing and manufacturing company. In 1886 he enrolled in medicine at the University of Melbourne, completing his studies in Edinburgh, Scotland. He returned to Australia and set up a general practice at South Yarra. In 1900, he married Nancy Anne Harris, daughter of Sir Matthew Harris. They had three sons.

Through his charitable work, Salmon met and befriended Alfred Deakin. Deakin encouraged him to stand as an Independent in the 1893 Victorian Legislative Assembly by-election for the seat of Talbot and Avoca. Salmon won the seat on a platform of restrained expenditure and campaigned for Federation, speaking frequently on the issue. He was president of the Australian Natives’ Association (1898-99) and served as a minister (1899-1900).

In 1901, Salmon was elected to the federal seat of Laanecoorie, which he retained until the seat was abolished in 1912. He served as Chairman of Committees in 1904 and 1905, where he was criticised for his management of quorum calls, for his rulings on relevance and repetition in debate, and even for allowing members to bring their bedding into the Chamber.2 Salmon was nominated for but not re-elected to the position in 1906. One political journalist reflected that ‘a Chairman or Speaker is born, not made, and Mr Salmon’s preparation did not commence early enough’.3

Long-serving Speaker Sir Frederick Holder died suddenly in 1909, leaving the Speakership vacant. Deakin, by then Prime Minister, advocated for Salmon to take the role, despite internal objection to his nomination. Undeterred by the strong opposition, Salmon was elected as Speaker after heated debate. He struggled to assert himself over unruly behaviour in the House or to command the respect of members. Despite Labor’s ongoing hostility and his own party’s frequent misgivings, he served as Speaker until the 1910 election. He was nominated for re-election as Speaker in July 1910 but was defeated by Charles McDonald.

After his seat was abolished in 1912, Salmon ran unsuccessfully for the Senate at the 1913 election. He returned to the Parliament as the Member for Grampians in 1915 following a by-election. He retained the seat in the 1917 election, but just three days later collapsed, and subsequently died, from a cerebral tumour. Salmon was remembered for his dedicated service to the community.

Alexander Colquhoun
Artist and critic Alexander Colquhoun (1862-1941) was born in Glasgow and migrated with his family to Australia in 1876. Soon after, he enrolled in painting at the National Gallery of Victoria Art School befriending artist John Longstaff, with whom he forged a lifelong friendship. By 1887 Colquhoun had qualified as a teacher of drawing and was exhibiting at the Australian Artists’ Association and at the Victorian Artists’ Society. Known for his evocative landscapes and interiors in impressionist technique, Colquhoun’s portraits are similarly characterised by their use of natural light. A passionate educator, he taught art privately and at the Working Men’s College and held a long-term position at Toorak College until 1930. He exhibited at various galleries and societies including the Victorian Artists’ Society, where he was secretary from 1904 to 1914. He was a foundation member of the Twenty Melbourne Painters Society in 1918 and the Australian Academy of Art in 1937. Colquhoun also wrote and illustrated for publications such as Art in Australia and was art critic for the Melbourne Herald from 1914 to 1922 and The Age from 1926 until his death in 1941.4

Charles Carty Salmon
by Alexander Colquhoun
Oil on canvas
229.5 x 138 cm
Historic Memorials Collection, Parliament House Art Collection

1. Information in this biography has been taken from the following unless otherwise sourced: J Hawkins, ‘Salmon, Charles Carty (Carty) (1860–1917)’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, 2021, accessed 30 August 2021.
2. ‘New standing order: Limitation of debate’, House of Representatives, Debates, 16 November 1905, pp. 5371–76.
3. Ithuriel (DH Maling), ‘Gallery sketches’, The Australasian (Melbourne), 23 June 1906, p. 39, accessed 21 July 2021.
4. J Phipps, ‘Colquhoun, Alexander (1862–1941)‘, Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, published first in hardcopy 1981, accessed 16 April 2021.

Connect with us


We acknowledge the traditional owners and custodians of country throughout Australia and acknowledge their continuing connection to land, waters and community. We pay our respects to the people, the cultures and the elders past, present and emerging.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are advised that this website may contain images and voices of deceased people.