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The Dictionary of Australasian Biography/Munro, Hon. James

Munro, Hon. James, Agent-General for Victoria, is the son of Donald Munro, and was born at Glen Dubh, in Sutherlandshire, on Jan. 7th, 1832, and educated at the Armadale School Mr. Munro began life as a printer and going to Edinburgh in 1848, entered the establishment of Thomas Constable & Co., printers to the Queen. He left Edinburgh for Victoria in the Champion of the Seas in 1858, and returned his attention to printing, but left that occupation in 1865, to found and conduct the Victoria Permanent Property Investment and Building Society. Mr. Munro also started the Melbourne Woollen Mill and the Victorian Permanent Fire Insurance Company. After seven years' service as secretary of the named society, he started the Federal Banking Company in 1882, and conducted its operations as managing director for three years. The Real Estate Bank was founded by him in 1887. Mr. Munro stood for Parliament in 1863 for Dundas, but was unsuccessful. In 1874 he was returned for North Melbourne as a supporter of the late Mr. Francis, and in May 1877 became first member for Carlton. He was, however, defeated in 1880, but re-entered the Assembly as member for North Melbourne in 1881. In 1883 he did not stand, but in 1886 he was elected for Geelong, in succession to Sir Graham Berry. Mr. Munro was Minister of Education in the first Berry Ministry from August 7th to Oct 20th, 1875, being sworn of the Executive Council on the former date. He declined office in the second Berry Ministry in 1877, and joined with Mr. Casey in forming a "corner party" on the Liberal side. Mr. Munro is President of the Victorian Alliance and the Melbourne Total Abstinence Society, and was the acknowledged leader of the Temperance party in the Victorian Parliament for a good many years. Mr. Munro, who led the opposition to the Gillies-Deakin Government, visited England in 1890, and successfully carried through several important commercial operations, besides being warmly received by the prominent advocates of temperance in Great Britain. On his return to the colony, Mr. Munro attacked the financial policy of the Gillies Government with great trenchancy, and ultimately carried a direct vote of want of confidence in them by a large majority. He then himself became Premier (Nov. 4th, 1890) at the head of what he styled a "National Liberal" Ministry. He was one of the representatives of Victoria at the Federation Convention held in Sydney in March 1891. In Feb. 1892 Mr. Munro resigned the premiership to Mr. Shiels, having accepted the post of Agent-General for Victoria in London, in succession to Sir Graham Berry. He arrived in London in April 1892, and assumed the duties of his present office on the 13th of that month.