Sir John William Downer

16th Premier of South Australia

Adelaide-born John Downer served two terms as South Australian Premier from 1885 to 1887 and from 1892 to 1893. In 1901 he entered federal politics becoming one of six South Australian senators in the first Commonwealth parliament. Like many of his predecessors, Downer was a legal professional who saw law reform as integral to his role as a member of parliament. While Downer was conservative, often describing himself as a Tory, he was a strong advocate of female suffrage, the protection of local industries, and a supporter of Federation. He spoke out against the prioritisation of the Immigration Restriction Act (1901) and instead believed the establishment of the High Court of Australia deserved priority.