People Australia

  • searches all National Centre of Biography websites
  • searches all National Centre of Biography websites
  • searches all National Centre of Biography websites

Browse Lists:

Cultural Advice

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be aware that this website contains names, images, and voices of deceased persons.

In addition, some articles contain terms or views that were acceptable within mainstream Australian culture in the period in which they were written, but may no longer be considered appropriate.

These articles do not necessarily reflect the views of The Australian National University.

Older articles are being reviewed with a view to bringing them into line with contemporary values but the original text will remain available for historical context.

Alexander (Alex) Macdonald (1910–1969)

This article was published:

Alexander (Alex) Macdonald (1910-1969) ironworker, trade union leader and Communist

Birth: 21 May 1910 at Greenock, Renfrewshire, Scotland, son of Alexander Macdonald (1866-1934), sawmill and shipyard foreman, and Sybil, née Smith (1877-1917). Marriage: 11 August 1939 at Brisbane, Queensland, to native-born Molly Cassandra Neild (1907-1992), nurse. They had two daughters. Death: 19 August 1969 in hospital at South Brisbane. 

  • Started apprenticeship as a shipwright. Arrived in Australia in 1925.
  • Worked as farmhand in New South Wales and carried swag in Queensland from Brisbane to Cairns and Mt Isa in Depression years.
  • Union delegate, Australian Railways Union, Toowoomba branch, in the early 1930s. Secretary of the Federated Ironworkers’ Association, Queensland branch, from 1942 to 1951.
  • Secretary of Queensland Trades and Labor Council from 1951 until his death. Secretary of the Metal Trades Federation, Qld branch. Delegate to Australian Council of Trade Unions Congresses, Qld State branch. Member of ACTU interstate executive from 1946 until death. Supported Seamen’s Union of Australia in various campaigns, while on ACTU executive.
  • Joined Communist Party of Australia in 1930. Member of CPA central committee from 1948. Member of CPA Qld State executive
  • Involved in many industrial struggles including Secretary of the Qld Railway Strike Committee during nine-week strike in 1948.
  • Key figure in shearers’ dispute which lasted for almost a year. Key figure in great Mt Isa strike, 1964-65, and in Collinsville. Executive member of the Qld Peace Committee.
  • Devoted much time to Aboriginal advancement, women’s rights, union and other democratic rights, pensioner needs and co-operation between unionists, students and other youth.
  • Cause of death: myocardial infarction (4 hours) and coronary atherosclerosis (years).

John Playford Doctrinal and strategic problems of the Communist Party of Australia, 1945-1962, PhD thesis, ANU, 1962,  p 425; ARU – 34th Meeting of Strikes? Council, April 1970; Advocate, September-October 1969, p 2; Seamen’s Journal, September 1969, p.237; Boilermaker-Blacksmiths Journal, September 1969; Tribune (Sydney), 20 August 1969, No. 1621, p 12; Newcastle Morning Herald, 19 August 1969.

This person appears as a part of the Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 15. [View Article]

Additional Resources

  • photo, Tribune (Sydney), 12 May 1948, p 1
  • funeral, Tribune (Sydney), 27 August 1969, p 4

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

'Macdonald, Alexander (Alex) (1910–1969)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 20 May 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012