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Cameron George (Cam) Johnson (1929–2021)

by Allison Murchie

This article was published:

Cameron Johnson, n.d.

Cameron Johnson, n.d.

Cameron George (Cam) Johnson (1929-2021) fitter and turner, trade union official and peace activist

Birth: 8 October 1929 at Semaphore, South Australia, son of London-born parents Cyril Johnson (1902-1976), fitter/press engineer, active shop steward, and Jessie Johnson, née Parchment (1900-1983), office worker. Marriage: 1951 to Phyllis Jessie Pratt (1930-2019), born at Semaphor, SA. Death: 16 May 2021 at Adelaide, SA. Religion: Anglican. 

  • Parents migrated to Australia in 1927, father unemployed 1929-1936 in Depression, lived with relatives.
  • Cam was educated at Challa Gardens Primary and Thebarton Boys Technical schools, SA.
  • Went to his first peace meeting in 1946 at the Empire Theatre to hear the “Red Dean” Dr Hewitt Johnson, when a riot was started by Young Catholic Workers.
  • Worked at General Motors Holden from 1946 to 1975. He created the machinery and tools to build the early Holden motorcars, then worked in the design area and was promoted to senior management.
  • Joined the Amalgamated Engineering Union during his apprenticeship at Woodville plant of GMH. Was a shop steward at 21, treasurer of the Woodville branch of union 1951, and State Committee delegate for Woodville and Hindmarsh branches; elected branch secretary in 1956.
  • Contributed to quarterly newspaper The Engineer, a state paper in 1956-60. Published and printed every month three union papers: C Woodville Engineer, Elizabeth Engineer and Tonsley News.
  • Campaigned actively against National Civic Council inroads into union affairs, addressed stop work meetings at Port Adelaide, Woodville and Adelaide. Was on the organising committee for SA, on national stoppages for wages and 37½ hour week. Attended state union conferences until 1975, delegate to United Trades & Labor Council of South Australia (UTLC) , secretary of AEU (Amalgamated Engineering Union) Film Committee showing throughout metropolitan and near country branches. In 1976-1977 in printing partnership business, continuing to print union literature.
  • In 1981 was seconded to State Government Department of Labour, Unit for Industrial Democracy and liaison officer with UTLC. From 1984 to 1986 worked on rewrite of State Occupational Health and Safety Act.
  • From 1987 to 1994 was a lecturer at TAFE in Industrial Relations, Industrial Sociology and OHS until retirement ¨C designed courses to suit users and travelled all over the state to deliver courses. SA was the first State to introduce industrial democracy under the direction of the Dunstan government.
  • On Anglican Synod for 27 years, and a cub leader in Boy Scouts Association until the age of 51. For twelve years was on school councils.
  • In retirement he was very active in local precinct affairs, the Retired Union Members Association and Adelaide City Council sub-committees. Active member of Metal Trades Unions for thirty years, six years in Public Service Association, twelve years in SA Institute of Teachers. With two other lecturers he wrote book for McGraw Hill on Supervision ¨C used extensive in Australia and overseas.
  • Received Award of Merit from AEU for over 25 years service ¨C only one other given out in SA.

Citation details

Allison Murchie, 'Johnson, Cameron George (Cam) (1929–2021)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 25 June 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Cameron Johnson, n.d.

Cameron Johnson, n.d.

Life Summary [details]


8 October, 1929
Semaphore, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia


16 May, 2021 (aged 91)
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.

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