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John Christian (Jack) Beitz (1905–1967)

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John Christian (Jack) Beitz (1905-1967), wharf labourer and trade union leader 

Birth: 16 June 1905 at Port Adelaide, South Australia, son of Christina Jane Anderson. No father was recorded on the birth certificate, but his putative father was Prussian-born James Charles Beitz, wharf labourer. Marriage: 11 March 1933 at the Registrar General’s office, Adelaide, to Jean Gertrude Cameron. They had a son and a daughter. Death: 15 December 1967 in Sydney and buried in Cheltenham Cemetery, South Australia. Religion: Catholic. 

  • Educated at Marist Brothers’ College and St Joseph’s School, Port Adelaide.
  • Started working life in flour industry working for Thomas Flour Mills.
  • Flour Millers Union delegate to Port Adelaide Trades and Labor Council. In 1922 elected President, Port Adelaide TLC.
  • In 1942 worked on Port Adelaide wharves, and joined the Waterside Workers’ Federation on 11 June 1942. In July 1943 elected President, Port Adelaide Branch, WWF, and delegate to Federation’s Biennial Conference. In 1949 elected President WWF, also serving as president of Port Adelaide branch. In 1954 his position made full-time.
  • Represented WWF in Japan, China, and New Zealand. Visited NZ during 1951 waterside workers strike to convey solidarity of Australian unionists.
  • Active member of the Australian Labor Party, having joined when aged 16 years. Regarded as ‘right’ candidate when he defeated Sydney branch’s Jim ‘Dutchy’ Young in 1949-50.
  • Died in office. Cause of death coronary occlusion.

Margo Beasley, Wharfies: the history of the Waterside Workers’ Federation (Rushcutters Bay, 1996; Maritime Worker, 27 March 1968; Seamen’s Journal, n.d.; Tribune 17 January 1968. 

Additional Resources

  • profile, News (Adelaide), 27 February 1929, p 8

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

'Beitz, John Christian (Jack) (1905–1967)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 31 May 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Life Summary [details]


16 June, 1905
Port Adelaide, South Australia, Australia


15 December, 1967 (aged 62)
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Cause of Death

heart disease

Cultural Heritage

Includes subject's nationality; their parents' nationality; the countries in which they spent a significant part of their childhood, and their self-identity.

Religious Influence

Includes the religion in which subjects were raised, have chosen themselves, attendance at religious schools and/or religious funeral rites; Atheism and Agnosticism have been included.

Key Organisations
Political Activism