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Thomas Patrick (Tom) Howard (1880–1949)

This article was published:

Tom Howard, n.d.

Tom Howard, n.d.

Thomas Patrick (Tom) Howard (1880-1949) house painter, trade union official and parliamentarian

Birth: 13 March 1880 at Adelaide, South Australia, son of Maurice Howard (1850-1922), a government railways employee, born at Goorenderk, County Limerick, Ireland, and Margaret, née Hogan (1853-1929). Marriage: 22 November 1906 at St Laurence Church, North Adelaide, to Louisa Smith. They had two daughters and one son. Death: 9 July 1949 at Adelaide. Religion: Catholic. 

  • His father arrived in South Australia as a boy, was keenly interested in politics and was a long-time member of the Australasian Society of Engineers.
  • Tom was educated at Christian Brothers College, Adelaide. He worked as a shop assistant in a warehouse. Apprenticed as a painter and decorator in 1894, he was a house painter in 1906.
  • President of the Painters and Decorators Union in 1909, elected secretary in 1912 and retained the position until 1934.
  • Active in the anti-conscription campaign in 1916.
  • President of the Trades and Labour Council (TLC ) in 1917. Secretary of the TLC of SA from 1920 to 1932. Was general secretary of the SA branch of the Shop Assistants and Warehouse Employees Union from 1921 until he resigned in 1945.
  • The Communist described him as having very conservative views and that “arbitration and conciliation are his highest attainments. He makes himself believe that Capital and Labour can be reconciled”.
  • Executive member of the Australian Council of Trades Unions from its inception to 1932. Secretary of Interstate TLCs in 1925.
  • Elected member of the SA House of Assembly for the seat of Adelaide from 8 April 1933 to March 1938.
  • Contested House of Assembly seat of Sturt 1918 and 1921, Barossa 1924 and Onkaparinga 1938 (Labor except 1931-34 Lang Labor). Contested Federal House of Representatives seat of Adelaide in 1931 (Lang Labor) and the Legislative Council Central No 2 district in 1941.
  • Secretary of the Lang Labor Party of SA.
  • Appointed justice of the peace by 1934. Member, Advisory Council of Education. Member, Industrial Commission of SA for eleven years. Sometime official visitor to Royal Adelaide Hospital.
  • Resigned from his trade posts in ill-health in 1945.
  • Took a keen interest in sport and was auditor for the West Adelaide football team for over 27 years and a life member.
  • His brother John Christopher (1891-1952), was secretary of the National Safety Council.

Howard Coxon, John Playford & Robert Reid, ; Labor Year Book 1934-1935 p 231; Communist, 11 August 1922 p 3; Jim Moss, Sound of trumpets: history of the labour movement in South Australia (Cowandilla, 1985).

Additional Resources

Citation details

'Howard, Thomas Patrick (Tom) (1880–1949)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 25 April 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Tom Howard, n.d.

Tom Howard, n.d.

Life Summary [details]


13 March, 1880
Adelaide, South Australia, Australia


9 July, 1949 (aged 69)
Adelaide, South Australia, Australia

Cultural Heritage

Includes subject's nationality; their parents' nationality; the countries in which they spent a significant part of their childhood, and their self-identity.

Religious Influence

Includes the religion in which subjects were raised, have chosen themselves, attendance at religious schools and/or religious funeral rites; Atheism and Agnosticism have been included.

Key Organisations
Political Activism