The Dictionary of Australasian Biography/Playford, Hon. Thomas
Playford, Hon. Thomas, M.P., ex-Prime Minister of South Australia, son of the late Rev. Thomas Playford, of Bentham Street Chapel, Adelaide, and previously sergeant-major in the British army, was born in London in 1837, and came to South Australia with his father in 1843. For many years he was engaged in farming at Mitcham, whence he removed to the hills and took up gardening pursuits. He was for twenty-one years the chairman of the East Torrens District Council, for three years a member of the Central Road Board, and for four or five years the president of the Association of District Chairmen. He made his first appearance in Parliament in April 1868 as member for Onkaparinga, a district which he represented until Nov. 1871. He assisted Mr. Strangways in passing the first Land Bill which gave farmers the chance of taking up land on deferred payments. In 1872 he was defeated at Onkaparinga, but in Feb. 1875 was returned for East Torrens, which he continued to represent till the general election of 1884, when he was rejected, being returned for Newcastle on April 6th, 1887. He was again chosen for East Torrens, however, at the general election in April 1890. Mr. Playford was Commissioner of Crown Lands and Immigration in Mr. Boucaut's three Administrations: Feb. 2nd to March 25th, 1876; March 25th to June 6th, 1876; and Oct. 26th, 1877, to Sept. 27th, 1878. He held the same office in Mr. (afterwards Sir) William Morgan's two administrations from Sept 27th, 1878, to 10th March, 1881, and from March 10th to June 24th, 1881. He was Commissioner of Public Works in Mr. Colton's first Ministry from June 16th, 1884, to Feb. 4th, 1885, and Commissioner of Crown Lands from Feb. 4th to June 16th, 1885. He took a prominent part in defeating the Downer Government, and was Premier and Treasurer from June 11th, 1887, to 27th June, 1889, during which time he carried the first protective tariff. Mr. Playford was one of the first two South Australian delegates to the Federal Council of Australasia, and presided over the deliberations of the third session, held at Hobart Jan. to Feb. 1889. He was Dr. Cockburn's colleague in the representation of South Australia at the Federal Conference held in Melbourne in Feb. 1889, and was again selected to represent the colony as one of the delegates to the Federal Convention in 1891. He was ejected from office in June 1889, but returned to power as Premier and Treasurer in August 1890. In Jan. 1892, having taken the portfolio of Lands instead of the Treasury, he paid a visit to India, with the view of ascertaining the suitability of coolie labour for employment in the tropical regions of the Northern Territory. Soon after his return the Ministry were defeated on a motion of want of confidence moved by Mr. Holder, and he resigned in June 1892. Mr. Playford married in 1860 Mary Jane, daughter of Rev. William Kinsman.