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Douglas John (Doug) Gillies (1909–1986)

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Douglas John (Doug) Gillies (1909-1986) school teacher, ironworker and Communist Party organiser

Birth: 1909 at Bellingen, northern New South Wales, son of native-born parents John Francis (Jack) Gillies (1872-1962), farmer, and Ellen Bridget, née Hickey (1872-1959). Marriage: 1940 at Adelaide, South Australia, to Stella May Mackey (1914-2010), born in Melbourne. They had one son. Death: 16 July 1986 in his residence at Oak Park, Melbourne.

  • Doug Gillies initially trained as a teacher and became active in the Teachers’ Federation but after joining the Communist Party of Australia (CPA) in 1932 he accepted a position as a full-time party organiser. In that capacity he worked at Newcastle (1933-1937), and Melbourne (1937 and 1941-1952) with a brief stint in South Australia (1938-1941).
  • In Newcastle Gillies was elected to the District Committee of the CPA and served on its secretariat. He was touted as a CPA candidate for the farming electorate of Robertson in the Federal election of 1934.
  • In South Australia he helped to organise the Federated Ironworkers’ Association (FIA) and became its delegate to the United Trades and Labour Council.
  • On his return to Melbourne Doug worked in the metal industry and in 1943 he was elected to the FIA's Victorian Executive. He held that position until he was defeated by the groupers in 1952.
  • Gillies then returned to the foundry where he became a shop steward. Throughout his working life he was known for his particular concern for the lowest paid workers, especially for migrants, helping them to organise effectively. He was also noted as an effective teacher, using his initial training to conduct classes on Marxism and related topics in Sydney, Newcastle, Adelaide and Melbourne.
  • In 1934 he contested the Federal seat of Robertson as the CPA candidate and in 1964 visited the Soviet Union as part of a Communist Party delegation.
  • Cause of death: acute myocardial infarct and ischemic heart disease.

Information from Ross Edwards 1991; Tribune, 24 September 1986.

Additional Resources

  • photo, Workers' Weekly (Sydney), 6 July 1934, p 2

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Citation details

'Gillies, Douglas John (Doug) (1909–1986)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 20 May 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012