Palmer, Sir Arthur Hunter (1819–98), politician in Australia, was born 28 December 1819 in Armagh city, second son of Lieut. Arthur Palmer, RN, and Emily Palmer (née Hunter). Educated at Youghal grammar school in Co. Cork, and by a private tutor in Dublin, he emigrated to Australia when he turned 17. Moving to the New England district in New South Wales, Palmer became general manager of the pastoral holdings of Henry Dangar, a wealthy landowner. As he became increasingly influential in the Dangar household he accumulated much capital and stock, although he was refused permission to marry Margaret Dangar, his employer's daughter, in 1857. He continued to work for the Dangars until 1863, when he moved to the South Kennedy district; he leased 900 square miles (2,300 sq. km) of property there.
Deciding to enter politics, he was elected to the Queensland legislative assembly in 1866, representing Port Curtis. With the formation of a new ministry in 1867 he was appointed colonial secretary and secretary for public works, but was heavily criticised for his association with the squatter party and for harsh fiscal policies. Out of office in 1868, he was a surprising nomination for premier when the government fell two years later; he held office until 1874. Again, his stringent economic policies provoked much criticism, although he survived three acrimonious general elections during his brief premiership. He made important legislative contributions to state education and electoral reform, but both damaged his popularity with the electorate. He resigned when his bill for free education was defeated in parliament, and he became leader of the opposition in January 1874 after the general election. He was later colonial secretary and minister for public instruction (1879–81) and became president of the legislative council in 1881, an office he held until his death. Appointed KCMG in 1881, he was briefly administrator of the Queensland colony (1888–9), and became its first lieutenant governor (1895–6).
Palmer's final years were marred by his embroilment in various financial scandals, including the insolvency of a bank of which he was a director. Although a subsequent inquiry cleared him of wrongdoing, he did not live to witness his vindication. He died 19 March 1898 at his home at Eastern Grey, Brisbane. He married (8 June 1865) Cecilia Jessie Mosman, daughter of a business associate; they had three sons and four daughters.