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Thomas Joseph (Tom) Dowling (1897–1970)

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Thomas Joseph (Tom) Dowling (1897-1970) quarryman, waterside worker, Communist activist 

Birth: 24 September 1897 at Hotham west (now North Melbourne), Victoria, son of native-born parents Thomas Michael Dowling (1865-1944), bootmaker, and his first wife, Margaret, née Hayes (1869-1897). Marriages: (1) 28 May 1927 at South Melbourne, Victoria, to a divorcée, Margaret Eileen, née O’Connell, late Allard. (2) 1943 at Rozelle, New South Wales, to Hilda Hesse Brown (1915-1983). They had a son and a daughter. Death: September 1970 at Sydney, NSW. 

  • Among his first jobs was quarryman in central western NSW.
  • During World War I worked as stockman, taking loads of horses to Middle East for Australian Imperial Force remounts.
  • Joined Communist Party of Australia in 1931. Was Waterside worker at Port Kembla, NSW, before and during World War II. Jailed during Dalfram dispute, 1938.
  • Moved to Balmain waterfront after the war where he was active in solidarity struggle with Indonesian workers.
  • In Balmain, Sydney, established reputation as fearless advocate of poor renters, mastering the Landlord Tenant Act and other legislation relating to housing. As secretary of Balmain-Rozelle Citizens’ Progress Association he was a militant advocate for tenants before the Fair Rents Court.
  • Secretary of the Balmain branch of the CPA; was the party’s candidate in many local government elections. With other wharfies, he assisted the struggle for Indonesian independence in 1945-46.

photo and profile, Tribune (Sydney), 19 November 1949, p 3, obituary, 30 September 1970, p 11.

Additional Resources

  • profile, Tribune (Sydney), 19 November 1949, p 3

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Citation details

'Dowling, Thomas Joseph (Tom) (1897–1970)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 19 July 2024.

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