Diary of a Labour Man 1917- 1945


1926 Editor of the 'Westralian Worker'


Saturday 5 December 1925 – c. Tuesday 5 January 1926 Melbourne
c. Tuesday 5 January Perth

Returns from Melbourne.1

Friday afternoon15 January Offices of Westralian Worker, Perth

Westralian Worker building, c1920
JCPML. Records of the Australian Labor Party WA Branch. Westralian Worker building, c1920. JCPML00379/1

Gives supporting speech at a farewell for Miss K Lindley.

'Last Friday afternoon the staff of this paper assembled to wish Miss K Lindley every happiness on her leaving the fellowship consequent on her marriage, which takes place tomorrow. For nearly eight years Miss Lindley was associated with the " Worker", and was held in the highest esteem throughout by all her colleagues. To mark the occasion, Mr S B Neilson (supervisor) presented Miss Lindley with a handsome inscribed clock as a tribute of appreciation and good luck from her workmates. Supporting speeches were made by Messrs J Curtin, F Kelsall, J D Taylor, J Lukies, and Miss E Donnelly. In her response Miss Lindley referred to the regard she had for everyone, and paid a high compliment to Mr Neilson, "who had made her work pleasant, and who was the kindest boss in the world.'''2

Monday evening 29 March Lesser Hall, Princess Theatre, Claremont, Western Australia
  Delivers address 'Is the World Drifting to Another Great War,' under the auspices of the local branch of the ALP.3
Sunday evening 2 May Wembley Hall, Hay Street, Perth

Delivers first speech at the Workers' Educational Union.

'Apart from the Labor Day celebration on Monday at Claremont, the only other meeting commemorating May Day was held by the Workers' Educational Union at Wembley Hall, Hay-street, on Sunday night last. Mr W Mountjoy presided over a good attendance.

Mr J Curtin was the first speaker, and struck the right note when he emphasised the need for political, industrial and cultural unity. In concluding Mr Curtin said that if it were not a dry meeting he would have pleasure in proposing the toast of "International Workers' Solidarity.’''4
Monday 3 May Claremont , Western Australia
  Probably attends Labor Day Celebrations.5
Sunday evening 9 May Unity Theatre, Perth, Western Australia

May Holman, n.d.
JCPML. Records of the Australian Labor Party WA Branch. May Holman, n.d.

Speaks at the regular 'Sunday night series'.

'Somewhat hurriedly the Metropolitan Council of the ALP arranged a meeting at Unity Theatre last Sunday night, when speeches were delivered by Messrs P J Trainer and J Curtin. The chair was occupied by Mr J J Kenneally.

A musical programme preceded the speeches, and was much enjoyed. Miss Holman, MLA, directed an orchestra, and songs were given by Miss B Rockliffe and Mr J Holman. …'6

J J Kenneally (b. 1879) worked as a locomotive driver and engine cleaner for the railways. He served as President and Secretary of the West Australian Locomotive Engine-drivers’, Firemen’s and Cleaners Union of Workers 1914-1919 and in 1927 was president of the State Branch of the Australian Labor Party. He was elected a member of the Legislative Assembly for East Perth in 1928 and became federal president of the ALP in 1929. After losing his seat in the State election of 1936 he became Chairman of the Lotteries Commission. Later the Curtin Federal government appointed him to the Commonwealth Grants Commission, a position he held until his death in 1954.

Mary Alice (May) Holman (b. 1893) was a gifted musician. She gained licenciates in singing and pianoforte, organized choirs and performed in concerts and plays. Her father was a Labor member of the Legislative Assembly 1901-21 and 1923-25, and May Holman assisted him at the Timber Workers’ Union. She also spent nine months in the Victorian Arbitration Court. On her father’s death in 1925 she won pre-selection for, and won, his blue-ribbon seat of Forrest, becoming the first Labor woman parliamentarian in Australia, a seat she retained through four following elections. She died on 20 March 1939 following a car accident, on the day of her re-election to the Forrest seat.7
Thursday evening 24 June Trades Hall, Perth

Attends annual meeting of shareholders of the People’s Printing and Publishing Coy. Of WA Ltd. (Westralian Worker).

'With regard to the " Worker", the Party would not be in the position it held today had it not been for the good work done by their own paper. Unlike speakers (who cannot reach the public at all times), the "Westralian Worker" was speaking for the movement the whole year round. He desired to congratulate the Editor, Mr Curtin, and he knew that in the forthcoming State elections the great bulk of the work would fall on him. Already preparations were in hand for the next elections. Ministers were visiting the ALP Councils, and delegates were themselves astonished at the many reforms carried out by the Government during their term of office. Very soon they would have the Bruce Government's referendum before the people, and while Labor had left them an open question there was no possibility of a split. Fortunately, they were in a position to have the questions placed fully before their people through the columns of the " Westralian Worker"'8

Monday evening 9 August

Unity Theatre, Perth


Attends meeting held under the auspices of the State Executive of the ALP to launch campaign in opposition to the Referendum proposals.9

Two questions were posed at the referendum held on 4 September 1926. The first, Constitution Alteration (Industry and Commerce) 1926, sought to extend the Commonwealth Parliament’s power to make laws in relation to corporations and to give the Commonwealth Parliament power to make laws with respect to trusts and combinations in restraint of trade, trade unions and employer associations. The second, Constitution Alteration (Essential Services) 1926, sought to give the Commonwealth Parliament power to take measures necessary to protect the public against an actual or probable interruption to essential services.10

Friday evening 13 August Keogh’s Hall, Perth
  Attends and proposes a toast at a valedictory smoke social for Mr E Grayndler, general secretary of the AWU, who was passing through Western Australia. In proposing the toast to ‘Kindred Societies’, Mr Curtin declared, 'that the organisation of Labor, in its widest and fullest sense, was the goal of the Labor Movement. The AWU had played a conspicuous part in the struggle, and because of its industrial, political, and press activities, was an ideal type of organisation.'11
Saturday 4 September Perth

Votes in referendum.

Neither of the two questions posed at this referendum was carried.12

Sunday morning
26 September

Children’s Hospital, Perth

Premier dedicates memorial department at the Children's Hospital. Westralian Worker, 1 October 1926, page 15. JCPML00984/191
Detail from photo of group at the Children's Hospital Memorial Department dedication. John Curtin is fourth from the right in the second row.

JCPML. Records of the Australian Labor Party WA Branch. Perpetuating the memory of Peter O'Loghlen. Premier dedicates memorial department at the Children's Hospital. Westralian Worker, 1 October 1926, page 15. JCPML00984/191

Attends dedication of Peter O’Loghlen memorial department at the Children's Hospital in Perth.13

Peter O’Loghlen acted as editor of the Westralian Worker when Curtin went to Brisbane to attend the Federal Congress in September 1921.14 Born in1882, he was a miner and timber-worker, who became the Labor MLA for Forrest from 1908 until his death in 1923.15 When O’Loghlen died at the beginning of November 1923, Curtin was en route for Melbourne, and telegraphed the following message, 'Deeply distressed death Peter O’Loghlen. He was a shining soul with pyramids of fire, who loves his country and served its citizens with a rare sincerity. He was, indeed, "Peter, the noble hearted.’' John Curtin.'16

c. week beginning Monday 25 October Not known

Gives evidence to Commonwealth Electoral Select Committee.

'The Labor members of the Commonwealth Electoral Select Committee are Senators Graham and Hoare, and Mr E Riley, MHR. During the week they have heard a mass of evidence from Commonwealth officials and others concerning the operations of the various portions of the electoral law. … On the signed articles provision evidence was given by Mr J Curtin.'17

Friday evening 12 November Trades Hall, Midland

Speaks at a Labor Rally.

'Last Friday night the Midland Trades Hall was crowded by a representative gathering of union executives and members of the District Council to hear speeches by members of the Government concerning the present industrial position.

An excellent musical programme was rendered, songs being contributed by Messrs G Kennedy, H E Waters, and F Horner, Miss Alice Johnson presiding at the piano. The speakers and artists were thanked on a motion by Mr W D Johnson, MLA.'18
c. Friday 26 November Not known

Attends meeting of the Metropolitan Council, where the necessity of 'all supporters contributing to election funds was impressed upon the Council delegates.'

'The question of State organisation of the Party is one demanding the close attention of all members of the Party at the present time. At the last meeting of the Metropolitan Council, the necessity for all supporters to contribute to the election funds was impressed upon the Council delegates by Messrs E H Barker, T Moore, and J Curtin. Delegates were also urged to do their utmost in stimulating interest in the doings of the Labor candidates. After discussion, it was decided "That this Council, and the members thereof individually, leave no stone unturned to further the appeal for funds for the publicity work of the State Elections campaign, and that each delegate urged his organisation to make as substantial a contribution as possible to the funds."’19

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