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Alan William McNamara (1900–1955)

This article was published:

Alan McNamara, n.d.

Alan McNamara, n.d.

Alan William McNamara (1900-1955) labourer, trade union official, editor and parliamentarian

Birth: 29 December 1900, at Parramatta, New South Wales, son of Michael McNamara (1865-1913), permanent army officer, and Matilda Lillian Stella (Stella), née Lawson (1870-1938), great grand-daughter of the explorer William Lawson. Marriage: 28 February 1942 at Croydon, Sydney, to May Doreen Post, of Muswellbrook. They had two sons. Death: 5 May 1955 at Eastwood, NSW. Religion: Catholic. 

  • His father, for many years of the New South Wales Artillery, moved his family to Victoria about 1902. After his death there, the family returned to NSW.
  • Alan was a navvy, an industrially militant union organiser and, idiosyncratically, a radical Australian Labor Party activist.
  • Helped organise, and then became general secretary of, the United Labourers’ Union of NSW (formerly United Laborers’ Protective Society) from 1930 to 1942.
  • Member of the Clerks’ Union. Organised unskilled workers in competition with the Australian Workers’ Union during the Great Depression. Architect of that union’s merger into the construction branch of the Australian Workers' Union 1942; general secretary of the construction branch.
  • Contested Legislative Assembly seat of Eastwood for ALP in 1927. Member of the Australian Labor Party central executive from 1934 to 1937 and a supporter of J. T. Lang.
  • Appointed Member of the Legislative Council of NSW (ALP) from 24 November 1931 to 23 April 1934. Was State Labor Party candidate for the Legislative Assembly seat of Concord in 1935. An indirectly elected member of the reconstituted Legislative Council from 23 April 1937 until his death.
  • Editor of Century from 1938 to 1943.
  • Member of the wartime Works Council. Ex-secretary of the Parramatta State Council of the ALP, Reid Federal Council and Burwood Electorate Council.
  • Cause of death: carcinoma of mediastinum (5 months).

Peter Sheldon; Heather Radi, Peter Spearritt & Elizabeth Hinton (eds), Biographical Register of the NSW Parliament 1901-1970 (Canberra, 1979); Labor Year Book, 1933, p 173, 1934-35, p 233.

Additional Resources

  • profile, Sun (Sydney), 15 April 1935, p 17

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

'McNamara, Alan William (1900–1955)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 21 June 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Alan McNamara, n.d.

Alan McNamara, n.d.

Life Summary [details]


29 December, 1900
Parramatta, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia


5 May, 1955 (aged 54)
Eastwood, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Cause of Death

cancer (mediastinal)

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