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Percy George Hannett (1892–1978)

by Chris Cunneen

This article was published:

Percy George (George) Hannett (1892-1978) electrician, Communist and trade union official 

Birth: 4 June 1892 at Laura, South Australia, seventh of seven children of native-born parents John Austin Hannett (1857-1893), a farmer, and Hester, née Parrott (1858-1948). Unmarried. Death: 21 May 1978 in a nursing home at Ryde, Sydney, New South Wales: usual residence Shepherd Street, Ryde. 

  • After having spent eight months in a lunatic asylum, his father committed suicide in January 1893. His mother remarried in 1896 and the family moved to Broken Hill, NSW, where his brother Frank was a miner and his stepfather Henry Meatheringham worked as a labourer.
  • Hannett became a member of the Amalgamated Miners’ Association and of the Federated Engine Drivers’ and Firemen’s Association of Australasia. Also a prominent member of the city band. Achieved honours in the course for electrical fitters and mechanics at Broken Hill Technical College. After his stepfather’s death from alcoholic gastritis and self-administered chlorodyne in 1916 George left for Sydney 'riding a motor bike'. His mother was to remarry three more times.
  • Was a member of the Australian Labor Party. Joined the Electrical Trades Union of Australia (ETU), NSW branch, and became its delegate to the Trades and Labor Council. Member, Socialisation Committee.
  • Was Labor candidate for the State seat of Hornsby in October 1927 and for the Federal electorate of Martin in a by-election in June 1928 and in the following general election in November. That year he also nominated for election to the Ryde Municipal Council.
  • TLC delegate to the Pan-Pacific Trade Union congress at Vladivostock, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics in August 1929. Visited Berlin and headquarters of Friends of Soviet Union. Frequent contributor to the Workers’ Weekly in early 1930s. Admitted in a coronial inquest in 1931 that he “held Communistic views”.
  • Executive member of Minority Movement. President of the ETU in 1943. In July 1945 was expelled from the Ryde branch of the ALP for alleged association with the Communist Party of Australia. In October 1946 was defeated by H. C. Thrower (ALP) for presidency of the ETU.
  • Chairman, Labour Research Against Arbitration. Retired in 1962.
  • Cause of death: cerebro-vascular accident, atherosclerosis.

Sources
Malcolm Henry Ellis, The red road: the story of the capture of the Lang party by Communists, instructed from Moscow (Sydney [1932]) and The Garden path (Sydney, 1949); A diary from Russian 1929-1930, held by Noel Butlin Archives, DepositN62.

Additional Resources

Citation details

Chris Cunneen, 'Hannett, Percy George (1892–1978)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, https://peopleaustralia.anu.edu.au/biography/hannett-percy-george-33951/text42547, accessed 13 June 2024.

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