CHARLES CAMERON KINGSTON, premier 1893-99, represents the radical little-l liberal streak that has asserted itself in South Australian politics from before settlement to now.
The Adelaide-born lawyer son of George Strickland Kingston, he was supported as premier by the new Labor party against the conservatives who hated him (and he them).
As premier, Charles Kingston introduced progressive measures including the first law in Australia to give votes to women; Australia’s first law for industrial conciliation and arbitration; establishing a state bank; high protective tariffs; regulating factories; land and income tax; public works; workers’ compensation. He wanted reform of the Legislative Council that was dominated by wealthy landowners.
A strong and involved advocate of Australian federation, Kingston was elected to the first federal parliament in 1901 but resigned from its first government ministry amid policy disputes.
Kingston’s private life ostracised him even more from Adelaide’s conservative “society”. His wife Lucy took in a child that Kingston had fathered with another woman. (Kingston’s body was exhumed in 2008 because two people thought they might be his direct descendants from one of at least six illegitimate children he is believed to have fathered.)
Another cause for notoriety was street brawler Kingston challenging conservative politician Richard Baker to a duel in 1892.