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H. B. Higgins

H. B. Higgins

Henry Bournes Higgins a highly influential Australian politician and judge, was born on 30 June 1851 in Ireland. He was the second son of Rev. John Higgins and his wife Anne, née Bournes. In 1870 his family emigrated to Australia.

Education and Career:

After the completion of his education at Wesley College in central Dublin, Ireland, Higgins joined the University of Melbourne Law School. In 1876, Higgins was admitted to the Victorian Bar. Later in 1894 Higgins was elected to the Victorian Parliament. He became a Justice of the High Court of Australia in 1906. In 1907 he was elected the President of the Federal Court of Conciliation and Arbitration. Higgins is known for his 1907 "Harvester Judgment" that ensured "sufficient wage" for unskilled workers. The "sufficient wage" is now known as the "basic wage". He was also part of the 1920 judgment that established 44 working hours per week for the Timber Workers Union.

Justice of the High Court of Australia
In office 13 October 1906 – 13 January 1929
Nominated by Alfred Deakin
Preceded by none
Succeeded by Sir Owen Dixon
Member of the Australian Parliament for North Melbourne
In office 30 March, 1901 – 12 December, 1906
Preceded by Seat Created
Succeeded by Seat Abolished
Personal details
Born 30 June 1851 Newtownards, Mayo, Ireland
Died 13 January 1929 (aged 77)

Positions Held:                       

Below mentioned are the major positions held by H.B.Higgins during his career.

  • Barrister
  • High court judge
  • Industrial arbitrator/conciliator
  • Irish nationalist
  • Liberal/conservative politician
  • Member of Lower House
  • University administrator

Personal Life:

Higgins married Mary Alice on 19 December 1885. After the death of their only son Mervyn Bournes, Higgins adopted his nephew Esmonde Higgins and his niece Nettie Palmer.

Higgins authored A New Province of Law& Order in 1922.

The biographies published of him include Henry Bournes Higgins: A Memoir(1931), written by his own niece Nettie Palmer and H. B. Higgins: The Rebel as Judge (1984) by John Rickard.

H.B.Higgins died on 13 January 1929 at Dromana, Victoria, Australia.

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