Diary of a Labour Man 1917- 1945


1927 Editor of the 'Westralian Worker'


Friday 28 January evening Trades Hall, Fremantle

Trains with side door carriages, also known as 'dog-boxes', were the typical suburban rail passenger trains used along the railway into Perth.
Curtin used public transport to travel around Perth. He never owned a car or had a driver's licence.

Trains with side door carriages, such as the one pictured above, also known as 'dog-boxes', were the typical suburban rail passenger trains used along the railway into Perth.
Photograph: P Rogers Collection

Represents the State Executive of the ALP and gives one of the addresses of appreciation at the send-off to Mr W C Angwin MLA, Agent-General elect.

'The final send-off to Mr W C Angwin, MLA, Agent-General elect, held at the Trades hall on Friday night last, was a veritable triumph and a fitting finale to a series of farewell gatherings and presentations which should be a record of recognition of public appreciation from the people of this State to any public man in W.A. The hall was uncomfortably crowded, but this did not deter the mass of Laborites from enjoying to the full the programme arranged for the evening.

Ministers Hon J Drew and Hon Alex McCallum were present, representing the Government. Addresses of appreciation of the great services to the Labor Movement rendered by the guest of the evening were given by the above-mentioned Ministers and Messrs J Lutey and J B Sleeman, M'sLA, W H Kitson, MLC and J Curtin. Mr Curtin, on behalf of the State Executive ALP, presented Mr Angwin with a case of pipes, and the President of the Fremantle District Council ALP (Mr P G McMahon) presented a handsome gold watch on behalf of the Fremantle Labor Movement. ....

Friday night's function passed off without a hitch, and a high-class programme of musical items was thoroughly enjoyed by all present. Mr Bert Fraser was an efficient MC of the dancing portion of the entertainment. Supper was served in excellent fashion by the ladies of the Women's Labor Organisation under the direction of the secretary, Mrs Jane Ryan. Secretary Jim Burgess was responsible for the successful organising of the historic gathering.'1

'A Pleasant Duty

Mr J Curtin conveyed apologies for absence from Mr J J Kenneally (president of the State Executive of the ALP) and the Premier (Mr P Collier). Mr Curtin said his duty was the pleasant one of representing the State Executive at a function which was Labor's farewell to one who had taken a conspicuous and honorable part in the political and industrial movements at Fremantle, and of presenting him with a case of seven pipes as a slight memento of esteem from the State Executive of the Labor Movement. All manner of men had in the previous few days spoken well of Mr Angwin, and though some of the speakers had been careful to emphasise that they differed from Mr Angwin politically, he (Mr Curtin) pointed out that the good work for which those speakers had praised Mr Angwin had been based on Mr Angwin's political faith. He (the speaker) assured the guest that the spirit of comradeship would be with him in the days to come, and that on his return, although he would be older, he would be the more honored for the years he would have lived.'2

William Charles Angwin (b 1863) moved to Western Australia from Victoria in 1892. He was active in unionism and local government, serving as mayor of East Fremantle Municipal Council from 1902-04. Winning the Legislative Assembly seat of East Fremantle in 1904 when H Daglish became the first Labor Premier, Mr Angwin lost it on the fall of the Daglish ministry in 1905. He won the seat (later called North-East Fremantle) again in 1906, holding it until 1927 when he resigned to become agent-general in England for six years. In 1933 he was appointed CMG and in 1935 and 1938 chaired two royal commissions on wheat. In 1936 he presided over the Rural Relief Trust. Mr Angwin died in 1944.3
c. Friday 18 March Not known

With other representative members of the State Executive of the ALP, meets with women delegates to discuss organising a Labor Women’s Council.

'After a long discussion, during which sympathetic addresses were made by Messrs Curtin, Watts, and Keneally it was decided that the State Executive officers report on the matter submitting a possible scheme and constitution to the full Executives at the first meeting after March 26. The matter will then be referred back to the Perth Women's A.L.P. for further discussion.'4

c. Wednesday 27 July Not known

Special Conference of Unions to Consider Child Endowment, 12 July 1927. JCPML00401/17
JCPML. Records of the Curtin Family. Special Conference of Unions to Consider Child Endowment, 12 July 1927. JCPML00401/17

Attends conference of 110 delegates representative of the Trades Unions. Acted as chairman of the Special Committee on Child Endowment.5



In week beginning Monday 15 August Trades Hall, Perth
  Attends and speaks at a 'smoke' night to welcome to Perth the delegates of the Federal Council of the Meat Industry Union. 6
Tuesday 6 September Cottesloe

Is 'confined to his home through a painful ailment in the one ear, but it is expected that he will soon be about again.'

Appointed to the Royal Commission on Child Endowment.7

Monday 24 October

Not known


Attends meeting of State Executive.

State executive carried the resolution that: 'Mr Curtin, being due to leave for the Eastern States to take part in the deliberations of the Royal Commission on Child Endowment, this State Executive desires to extend its sincerest thanks to Mr Curtin for having undertaken such an arduous duty on behalf of the Labor Movement. We wish him every success in his labors, and trust that the result will be beneficial to the workers of Australia. We congratulate him on his selection, and also congratulate the Labor Movement that it will be represented by one so capable.'8

Tuesday 25 October Council Room, Trades Hall

Delegates to the Conference of Western Australian Labor Women outside Museum & Art Gallery, Elsie Curtin 4th from left, front row. October 1927. JCPML00376/162
JCPML. Records of the Curtin Family. Delegates to the Conference of Western Australian Labor Women outside Museum & Art Gallery, Elsie Curtin 4th from left, front row. October 1927.  JCPML00376/162

Labor Women’s State Conference.

'Iceland poppies, in a great variety of beautiful colors (presented each day by Mr A H Panton, MLA), decorated the Council Room at the Trades Hall on October 25, 1927, when a Labor Women's Conference, called by the State Executive of the ALP, met for the first time since 1912.

Mr J Curtin, who had undertaken to deliver an address on Child Endowment, wrote to explain that owing to his appointment on the Child Endowment Commission he had written his address, which Mr Gates (acting-editor of the "Worker") would read.'9
Thursday 27 October Offices of Westralian Worker, Perth
Perth Station

Attends farewell by staff of Westralian Worker.

Leaves by 'eastern-bound express' for Brisbane, 'where the Royal Commission on Child Endowment will open its proceedings'.

'A gathering of Laborites assembled at the Perth station to see him leave on his important mission which means so much to the workers of Australia. On Thursday the staff of the " Worker" said goodbye to Mr Curtin. Mr A J Watts, chairman of directors, expressed the gratification of the Labor Movement generally that Mr Curtin had been chosen to represent the workers of Australia on one of the most – if not, the most – important Commission which has been appointed.' 10

c. Saturday 17- Sunday 18 December Perth

Christmas cartoon in the Westralian Worker of 1927 - 'Labor extends greetings to all people.'
Christmas cartoon in the Westralian Worker of 1927 - 'Labor extends greetings to all people.'

Returns to Perth for Christmas holiday break.

'Beyond stating that he would seize an early opportunity to consult with the State Executive of the ALP regarding the proceedings at the Perth session, Mr Curtin said he could not publicly refer to the work of the Commission at this stage.

"I found no State in better heart than our own," he answered when requested to offer a few general observations regarding his impressions generally.

"Sydney , Melbourne, and Adelaide are suffering more than the normal degree of unemployment. And Governments which have ladled out liberally millions for the stimulation of what is called the development of our empty spaces are now being compelled to call a halt to the process owing to the gains being enormously less than the outlay; the liabilities of the nation are greater than ever, while the improvements effected by the expenditure have been raked-off by speculators in enhanced land values."

"I met all manner of men. The best cricketer I saw was Ronald Oxenham, of Brisbane; the finest public speak I heard was Donald Grant, of the Sydney domain, who is, I believe, without a peer in the whole Commonwealth in the art of oratory. Of newspaper men I met a veritable legion and to those who are interested in the organisation of a Labor Daily press, I would say that an established daily is a gold mine, but to get a new one established requires a gold mine."

"I met representative Laborites in each of the three Eastern States and had long consultations with many. But what I heard and the conclusions I formed are not for statement here. I simply insist that the Labor Movement had better reconsider the problems of organisation and policy: and, in addition, it is very desirable that it re-learn the lessons of fraternity and comradeship; without an improvement in this respect the relations of discipline to tolerance will remain a vexed embarrassment."'11
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