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Arthur William Buckley (1891–1974)

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Arthur William Buckley (1891-1974) tram conductor, trade union leader, member of NSW parliament 

Birth: 16 January 1891 in Charters Towers, Queensland, son of William James Buckley, miner, later engine driver, and Louisa, née Carlson. Marriage: 20 June 1914 in St James’s Anglican Church, Sydney, to Gertrude Rachel McKenzie, tailoress. They had one son and two daughters. Death: 10 June 1974 at Arncliffe, Sydney, New South Wales. Religion: Catholic. 

  • Primary education with Christian Brothers. Apprenticed as electrician. Boilermaker’s assistant. Worked in Queensland sugar industry; 1909, sugar workers’ spokesman in North Queensland. Joined Industrial Workers of the World and led 1911 strike.
  • 1912-16 tram conductor attached to Newtown, NSW, tramway depot. Tramways Union organiser; arrested during 1917 strike. Learned that losing a strike could humiliate unions.
  • Anti-conscriptionist and appointed organiser for northern Sydney suburbs. Member, executive of Amalgamated Railway and Tramway Service Association (from 1920 NSW branch of Australian Railways Union); president 1918-1919 and decisive force in amalgamation with ARU.
  • First ARU president c. 1920-21 and secretary 1923-24. Suspended by federal executive following suggestions of ballot-box impropriety, later reinstated. Major link between NSW Australian Labor Party and ARU.
  • 1923 reminded ARU members at Werris Creek that they had been ‘shockingly defeated’ in 1917, that strikes ‘demoralised’ workers and gained nothing for them. 1918-22 employees’ representative Railway and Tramway Superannuation Board.
  • ALP member of the Legislative Assembly for Surry Hills in 1917-1920 and for Sydney in 1920-22.
  • After leaving parliament studied law and became property investor; started Castle Hill Golf Club with partner 1949.

Australian Worker
, 18 March 1920, 21 March 1923; Co-operator, 21 Dec 1916; Railways Union Gazette, 9 April 1923; ARU General Secretary’s Biennial Report, May 1950; Greg Patmore, A history of industrial relations in the NSW Government Railways (PhD thesis University of Sydney, 1985); Heather Radi, Peter Spearritt and Elizabeth Hinton, Biographical Register of the NSW Parliament 1901-1970 (Canberra, 1979).

Citation details

'Buckley, Arthur William (1891–1974)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 22 June 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Life Summary [details]


16 January, 1891
Charters Towers, Queensland, Australia


10 June, 1974 (aged 83)
Arncliffe, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

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.

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