Was born in the Highlands
of Scotland, on 3 February 1840. His father, Charles McLean, emigrated to
Australia in 1842, took up land near Tarraville, Gippsland, Victoria, and
engaged in cattle grazing. Allan McLean was educated by private tutors and
at the state school, Tarraville. He assisted his father on his stations,
and for a short period in his twenties was on the staff of the
Gippsland Times. About 1870 he took The Lowlands, a sheep station
about nine miles from Sale, and in 1872 formed the firm of A. McLean and
Company, Stock and Station Agents, at Maffra. The business flourished and
branches were afterwards established at Traralgon, Bairnsdale, Warragul,
Mirboo and Melbourne. McLean became a shire councillor at Maffra in 1873,
and afterwards as president of the council was active in forming the
Municipal Association of Victoria. In 1880 he was elected as member for
Gippsland North in the Victorian legislative assembly and held this seat
until 1901. He first held office in 1890 when he was given the portfolios
of president of the board of land and works and minister of agriculture in
the James Munro (q.v.) ministry, and was chief secretary from April 1891
to February 1892 when the William Shiels (q.v.) ministry came in. In the
new cabinet McLean was given his old positions of chief secretary and
president of the board of land and works and held them until January 1893.
He became a minister without portfolio in the George Turner (q.v.) cabinet
in September 1894, but resigned in April 1898 and in December 1899 moved
and carried a vote of no-confidence. McLean then came into power as
premier and chief secretary in the new cabinet, which, however, lasted
less than a year.
McLean was an opponent of
federation and was not a member of the conventions which shaped the
constitution. In March 1901, having resigned his state seat he was elected
a member of the federal house of representatives for Gippsland, and sat as
a supporter of Deakin (q.v.). In August 1904 Reid (q.v.) formed a
government which had the support of Deakin and a section of his followers.
McLean, a staunch protectionist, came into the cabinet as minister for
trade and customs and equal in all things with Reid. It was an unhappy
ministry, constantly being assailed by the Labour party and the extreme
protectionist section of Deakin's followers who had formed a fourth party.
The ministry lasted for less than 11 months, and McLean was much hurt when
his old chief Deakin withdrew his support. At the election held in
December 1906 McLean lost his seat by a small majority, his supporters
thought his position to be so safe that they relaxed their efforts.
McLean, who had suffered
for many years with a rheumatic affliction and did not feel capable of
doing justice to his constituents, declined to allow himself to be
nominated as a candidate at subsequent elections. He died at Melbourne on
13 July 1911. He was twice married (1) in 1866 to Miss Shinnock of Maffra
and (2) to Mrs McArthur (née Linton), who survived him with five
sons and two daughters by the first marriage.
McLean, an early pioneer,
who had lived in Gippsland before there was even a road to Melbourne,
understood the difficulties of the man on the land. As a member of
parliament the needs of his constituents became almost a personal matter,
and his honesty, unfailing courtesy and sympathy, inspired not only the
respect but the affection of those who came in contact with him. Sir
George Reid said of him that "no public man in Victoria was more widely or
more affectionately esteemed" (My Reminiscences, p. 238). He was a
capable debater and could bring a touch of fervour into his oratory which
made it very effective. As premier of Victoria he showed himself to be a
good leader who could keep a tight hand on the finances.