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Burke, Michael (Mick) (c. 1864–1937)

by Peter Sheldon

This article was published:

Michael ‘Mick’ Burke (1864-1937) labourer, rockchopper, goldminer, union official and Labor parliamentarian

Birth: in Bansha, Tipperary, Ireland, and baptised on 3 September 1864, son of Thomas Burke, farmer, and Annie, née Quirke. Marriage: 16 December 1889 in St Mary’s Cathedral, Sydney, New South Wales, to Lucy Agnes Lloyd, a Sydney-born servant. They had one son and five daughters. Death: 5 July 1937 in Summer Hill, Sydney, NSW. Religion: Catholic. 

  • Arrived in NSW in 1887. Gave his occupation as “miner” on his marriage lines. Employed by Sydney Harbour Trust as a labourer.
  • Joined United Laborers’ Protective Society (ULPS) in 1900. Was active as a part-time and voluntary official, and delegate to Sydney Trades and Labor Council, 1901-09. An increasingly conservative full-time organiser for ULPS 1909-17.
  • Foundation member of the Australian Labor Party. Delegate to ALP conferences. Was a member of its central executive 1904-13 and 1915-17. Secretary, Combined City Political Labor Leagues, 1907-09. Justice of the Peace, 1913.
  • Alderman on Sydney City Council, from 1909 to 1927. In this capacity was found corrupt by the Royal Commission conducted by Sydney Ernest Lamb in 1924.
  • Lived in inner city Pyrmont, his political base. Seemingly popular for his ability to use his position to dispense patronage, and work for genuine improvements for poorly paid.
  • Labor Member of the Legislative Assembly for Belmore from March 1917 to February 1920; for Sydney from March 1920 to February 1922 (defeated) and from May 1925 to September 1927; for Phillip from October 1927 to September 1930 (retired). A supporter of Jack Lang from 1925 to 1927.

Sources
Heather Radi, Peter Spearritt and Elizabeth Hinton, Biographical Register of the NSW Parliament 1901-1970 (Canberra, 1979); J. Lang, I RememberLabor News, 1921-3; Labor Daily, 1927; Peter Sheldon, Maintaining control: a history of unionism among employees of the Sydney Water Board, PhD thesis University of Wollongong, 1989; United Laborers’ Protective Society minutes 1900-05; TLC of NSW, minutes 1901-15; Parliamentary Papers of New South Wales, 1925, pp. 139-152. Labor Party leaflets (State Library of NSW), for example 329.31/N.

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Citation details

Peter Sheldon, 'Burke, Michael (Mick) (c. 1864–1937)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, https://peopleaustralia.anu.edu.au/biography/burke-michael-mick-32594/text40452, accessed 9 December 2022.

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