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John Edward (Jack) Heffernan (1916–2001)

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John Edward (Jack) Heffernan (1916-2001) sheet metal worker and trade union official 

Birth: 11 October 1916 at Annandale, Sydney, New South Wales, son of native-born parents John James Branley Heffernan (1878-1972), a carter, and his second wife Catherine Ellen, née Evans (1876-1955). Marriage: 10 January 1942 at Sydney, to Edith Constance Hood (1918-2010). Death: 24 November 2001 at Erina, NSW. 

  • Lived in Leichhardt, Sydney, during early years. Adopted a socialist philosophy.
  • Started work at 14 yrs of age in canister factory at Five Dock during the 1930s Depression. Joined the Sheet Metal Workers' Union (SMWU) and management board in 1936. Became a union organiser in 1947 and federal secretary in 1962.
  • When SMWU joined with other metal unions to form the Amalgamated Metal Workers' Union Heffernan became joint Commonwealth secretary of the new union. National secretary of the Metal Trades Federation of Unions.
  • Joined Australian Labor Party in 1943. President of the Hurstville branch. Member of the NSW ALP Central Executive and junior vice-president. A leading member of the Socialist Objective group within the ALP. Author of The Socialist Alternative (1969), with a foreword by Jim Cairns.
  • Vice chairman of the NSW Peace Committee, in 1964 he was elected observer, representing the Australian Peace Movement at the conference of the Japan Council against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs, in Tokyo, and the Hiroshima-Nagasaki (Three Prefectures) World Conference in Hiroshima. On his return he attacked these conferences as being stacked by the Chinese government and Communists.
  • Appointed to Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission in 1974. Had retired by 1983.
  • Appointed part-time chairman of the Trade Union Training Authority (TUTA) in October 1983.
  • Life member of the ALP NSW branch in 1988, nominated by Terrigal branch, Michael Lee.

News, November 1973; Interview (1988) by Richard Raxworthy in Australian Trade Union Archives.

Additional Resources

  • photo, Tribune (Sydney), 9 September 1964, p 4
  • photo, Tribune (Sydney), 5 September 1972, p 8

Citation details

'Heffernan, John Edward (Jack) (1916–2001)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 19 July 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012