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George (Barney) Mullins (1878–1948)

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George Mullins, n.d.

George Mullins, n.d.

George (Barney) Mullins (1879-1948) bootmaker, wharf labourer and trade union official

Birth: 26 August 1878 at Ballarat, Victoria, illegitimate son of Jane Agnes Mullins, born in Clare, Ireland. Stated on his marriage certificate that his father was John Mullins, a miner. Marriage: 5 July 1907 at Wellington, New Zealand, to Sydney-born Florence Emily Gray (1884-1977). They had one daughter and one son. Death: 5 July 1948 in hospital at Manly, New South Wales; usual residence Harbord. Religion: Catholic. 

  • Moved with mother to Melbourne. Served apprenticeship at bootmaking. Unemployed after strike. Various jobs.
  • Went to South Africa as seaman on City of Plint. Moved to New Zealand. Was a coalminer in Dennison. Injured. Worked as a labourer at Petone meatworks.
  • Returned to Australia in 1910. Wharf labourer living in Rozelle, later Harbord.
  • Foundation member of Waterside Workers’ Federation (WWF). Vigilance officer (1917) to 1931 (or 1929). Succeeded Bill Seale as secretary of Sydney branch of the WWF from 1930 to 1948 (retired). Member, federal committee of management for three years. Member, Federal Council, vice-president. Federal representative at various industrial conferences over 36 years of membership.
  • Engaged in struggle for the abolition of the 'bull' system on the waterfront and for attendance money, four-hour minimum, standard sling and paid holidays. Member of Stevedoring Commission for many years.
  • Alderman Balmain 1923, mayor 1924 (2nd Labor mayor of Balmain).
  • Vice-president of the central executive of the Australian Labor Party in 1927.
  • Well-known boxing trainer. Boxers he managed included Jerry Jerome and Sid Godfrey. Ceased training after 1924 when G. Mendies was killed in the ring.
  • Contested seat of 5-member seat of Sydney in the NSW Legislative Assembly in March 1922. Appointed member of the NSW Legislative Council on 24 November 1931. Retained the seat when elected to reconstituted council in 1933 and held it until his death. Director, Century Newspapers 1943.
  • Remained a Lang supporter and was opposed to Communists, but was “One of the most colorful and likeable personalities in the labor movement” according to his Tribune obituary.
  • Cause of death: myocardial degeneration.

Heather Radi, Pater Spearritt & Elizabeth Hinton, Biographical Register of the NSW Parliament 1901-1970 (Canberra, 1979); Labor Year Book 1933 p 173, 1934/5 p 234; Labor Daily, 13 January 1927; Maritime Worker, 17 January 1948 p 3, 10 July 1948 p 1; Tribune (Sydney), 10 July 1948, No. 433; Painters & Dockers, November 1989.

Additional Resources

  • profile, Smith's Weekly (Sydney), 20 April 1940, p 5

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

'Mullins, George (Barney) (1878–1948)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 22 July 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

George Mullins, n.d.

George Mullins, n.d.

Life Summary [details]


26 August, 1878
Ballarat, Victoria, Australia


5 July, 1948 (aged 69)
Manly, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Cause of Death

heart disease

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