Alfred Deakin was born in Melbourne, his family had migrated from England during the gold rushes.He graduated in law from the University of Melbourne in 1877 and moved into journalism.
He stood for Victorian Parliament, was elected in 1879 and held a number of portfolios.He was the key figure in promoting Federation in Victoria during the 1890s, playing a similar role to Edmund Barton in New South Wales.
In the first House of Representatives he became attorney-general in Barton's Protectionist ministry and replaced Barton as prime minister when he moved to the High Court in 1903.
His second ministry, which began in 1905, with the support of the Labor Party, brought about the establishment of the following:
the industrial arbitration system,
the tariff protection system,
the beginning of social welfare with the introduction of old age pensions and
the outlining of defence policies.
This ministry ended when Labor withdrew its support. In 1909 Deakin became prime minister again by joining with his former Free Trade opponents in the Fusion government.
With the defeat of this government by Labor at the 1910 election, Deakin ended his parliamentary career as leader of the opposition.
He retired in 1913.