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William Peter (Bill) Evans (1899–1997)

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William Peter (Bill) Evans (1899-1997) engine-driver, trade union official

Birth: 19 April 1899 at Kerang, Victoria, son of native-born parents John Rea Evans (1865-1924), itinerant earthwork contractor, later farmer, and Eliza Jane, née McKee (1872-1919). Marriage: 1926 in Victoria, to native-born Stella Elizabeth Plucke (1903-1978). They had one daughter. Death: 23 October 1997 at Elanora, Victoria. 

  • Worked as fruit picker and teacher in the Mildura district. Transferred from Australian Workers’ Union to become engine-driver, joining Federated Engine Drivers’ and Firemen’s Association (FEDFA) in 1920, when also involved in strike at irrigation pump station.
  • Secretary Mildura sub-branch, FEDFA, and foundation secretary Mildura Trades Hall Council 1925. Worked for NSW Public Works Department at Wentworth, returning to Victoria in 1931 when joined ALP.
  • Interested in socialism, but not Marxist, and Mildura focus of political agitation among labour/unemployed. Mentored by Harry Gibson. Geelong delegate to Melbourne THC.
  • President Middle Park, Australian Labor Party branch 1934, delegate to Metropolitan Council, active in cut and thrust of Victorian Labor politics, socialisation etc in the 1930s. Expelled from ALP, readmitted 1947.
  • Assistant-Secretary, Victorian branch FEDFA, 1931-35. Victorian branch, general secretary from 1936 to 1942. President, Melbourne THC, 1936.
  • Elected Melbourne THC representative on Workers’ Compensation Board of Victoria in 1943.
  • From 1947 to 1964 general secretary of FEDFA.
  • Vice-president ACTU, retired as senior vice-president in 1967.

Merrifield papers, LaTrobe Library, Melbourne; Butlin Archives, MSS Z437; Labor Call (Melbourne), 8 October 1936; The Safety Valve, September 1943.

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'Evans, William Peter (Bill) (1899–1997)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 7 December 2023.

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