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Brian Thomas Manning (1932–2013)

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Brian Thomas Manning (1932-2013) labourer and Communist Party official

Birth: 13 October 1932 at Mundubbera, Queensland, son  of William Henry Manning (1910-1984), horse-breaker and labourer, born at Basingstoke, Hampshire, England and Lily Louisa, née Sherrington, late Watson (1908-1962), born at Gayndah, Queensland. Marriages: (1) June 1962 in a registry office in Sydney, New South Wales to Maisie Alice Murphy (c.1918-2006), born at Armagh, Ulster, Ireland. The marriage ended in divorce in 1964. (2) 1970 at Milagros Jalimao, Philippines. They had two sons and one daughter. He had two ex-nuptial daughters. Death: 3 November 2013 at Darwin, Northern Territory, Religion: raised as an Anglican. 

  • Early childhood spent in Mundubbera, Queensland. Moved to Taringa, Brisbane, to be near his father stationed with the Army in 1940. Educated at Mundubbera and Taringa primary schools and Brisbane State High School.
  • Worked in Brisbane in a variety of occupations including junior clerk at Caltex Oil, spare parts shop assistant, plasterer’s labourer and builders’ labourer.
  • Moved to Northern Territory, in 1956. The private sector building industry was not unionised so he began employment with the Department of Works in early 1957 and then with the Department of Civil Aviation.
  • Was union representative for Transport Workers Union, North Australian Workers Union (NAWU), and Civil Aviation Employees Association. Lived in camp at Mindil Beach.
  • Joined Communist Party of Australia (CPA) in 1959. Introduced to Marxism and CPA by Sam Brent. CPA not particularly active at this time. He was part of a revival resulting in membership rising to about forty.
  • Moved to house in McMinn Street, Darwin, which became known as the Kremlin. A campaign organised against attempts to deport three Malay pearl divers regarded as significant in radicalising and politicising CPA members and reviving Left in Darwin.
  • Manning was a long-term secretary of the CPA and Territory delegate to CPA Congresses. Met with Shirley Andrews and discussed issues related to Aboriginal rights in Northern Territory in 1961. Andrews organised for Manning to meet Barry Christophers from Victorian Council for Aboriginal Rights and Federal Council for Aboriginal Advancement (FCAA).
  • Manning and Terry Robertson (ex-CPA) initiated formation of Northern Territory Council for Aboriginal Rights (NTCAR) in 1961 which affiliated with the FCAA. The NTCAR became an effective lobby group.
  • Manning was manager of the Workers’ Club in 1963-64. Then he worked at a pilot farm growing rice at Adelaide River.
  • Returned to Darwin mid-1966 and later in 1966 joined Waterside Workers Section, NAWU. Was vigilance officer in 1967-1973 and 1977-1981.
  • Active in lobbying for equal wages for Indigenous Australians in the pastoral industry and in organising support for the Wave Hill Gurindji walkout in his capacity as NAWU executive member and member of the CPA and NTCAR.
  • Went to Dili as union delegate to celebrate Fretlin Foundation Day at the invitation of Fretlin in 1975. Subsequently coordinated two separate radio communication links firstly from Darwin between Fretlin and External Missions in Lisbon and Mozambique. Second radio link organised to facilitate access for politicians and journalists and family members to Fretlin.
  • Delivered the 6th Vincent Lingiari Memorial Lecture in 2003.
  • Was Darwin Citizen of the Year in 2010.

Interviews with Julie T Wells, 20 October, 4 November and 16 November 1992; George Gibbs Memorial Collection, Mitchell Library; Frank Stevens: The Politics of Prejudice, (Sydney, 1980); Frank Hardy: The Unlucky Australians, (Melbourne, 1968).

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Citation details

'Manning, Brian Thomas (1932–2013)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 21 June 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Life Summary [details]


13 October, 1932
Mundubbera, Queensland, Australia


3 November, 2013 (aged 81)
Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia

Cause of Death


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