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Sir Charles Powers

Sir Charles Powers

Sir Charles Powers KCMG was a famous Australian judge and solicitor best known for his informal style and the introduction of the “Powers 3 shillings” and the quarterly cost of living adjustments to the basic wage. He also served as a politician in the opposition for a term of nearly seven years. He also served as a justice of the High Court of Australia from 1913 to 1929.

Personal Life and Education

Born in North Brisbane on March 3, 1853 in a wine merchant’s family, to father James Powers and mother Mary Ann nee Marsden, Powers completed his schooling from Ipswich and Brisbane Grammar Schools.

He started working as a law solicitor in December 1876. Powers worked as a solicitor in Bundaberg from 1876 until 1882. In 1883, he became the Mayor of Maryborough. Powers was very passionate about cricket and had keen interest in gardening. He also played first class Cricket and was captain for his team while playing against England. Other sports that Powers found interesting were tennis and golf. During this period in 1878 he got married to Kate Ann Thorburn the daughter of a solicitor from Victoria.

Professional Life

In 1888, Powers was elected as a member of legislative assembly of Queensland from Burrum. He later held portfolios in the ministry of Premier Boyd Dunlop Morehead as Postmaster General and Minister of Education. He also became a member of the Royal Commission in 1891. Powers also worked for women’s suffrage and plural voting through electoral reform bills, however both the bills failed. During his tenure Powers worked in various areas to bring social as well as commercial reforms.

In 1894, Powers was admitted to the Bar and in 1899 he was appointed as the crown solicitor. Subsequently, in the year 1903, he was appointed as the Commonwealth Crown Solicitor. In the 1921, he introduced the automatic quarterly cost of living adjustments to the basic wage. Powers was appointed K.C.M.G. in June 1929 after which he took retirement in July.


He died at the age of 86 in Kew, Melbourne on 24 April 1939 and was survived by his wife Kate Ann Thorburn and nine children. He was buried in Burwood cemetery with Anglican rites.

Justice of the High Court of Australia
In office 5 March 1913 – 22 July 1929
Nominated by Andrew Fisher
Preceded by none
Succeeded by H. V. Evatt
Personal details
Born 3 March 1853 Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
Died 24 April 1939 Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

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