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.

Savage, Robert Emmett (Bob) (1895–1959)

by Peter Sheldon

This article was published:

Robert Emmett (or Emmet) (Bob) Savage (1895-1959) clerk, trade unionist and Labor politician

Birth: 16 March 1895 at Enmore, New South Wales, son of Irish-born William Henry Savage, seaman and Irish immigrant, and Mary, née McCarthy (1870-1932), who was born in Melbourne. Marriage: 29 April 1935 at Sacred Heart Church, Mosman, to Philomena Emily Meany, teacher (1903-1975). They had two daughters. Death: 2 July 1959 at Lane Cove, NSW. Religion: Catholic. 

  • Educated at Christian Brothers College, Balmain.
  • Clerk in the Metropolitan Water Board, Sydney. Member of the Metropolitan Board of Water Supply and Sewerage Employees' Association (MBWSSEA) from 1915 to 1928; picnic secretary 1922-32; organiser 1928-29; assistant secretary 1929-55. For much of this period administered quiescent union for secretary W. A. McPherson. Savage was general secretary MBWSSEA from 1955 to 1959.
  • Active in Catholic, inner-city Sydney Australian Labor Party circles. Important go-between between ALP State governments and municipal councils, Water Board and union. Habitue of NSW Parliamentary dining room.
  • Supporter of J. T. Lang. Member, NSW ALP Central Executive, 1931-43. Delegate to ALP federal conference. Labor Member of the Legislative Council of NSW from 1931 until 1934 (defeated).
  • At 1939 unity conference switched support to R. J. Heffron. Returned to Legislative Council NSW, nominated by the W. J. McKell government, in 1943 (casual vacancy). Held the position until his death in 1959.
  • For many years was returning officer for the NSW ALP, the NSW Labour Council and the Australian Council of Trade Unions congresses in Sydney.
  • Prominent in Balmain and NSW Rugby League from about 1912. Honorary director of the NSW Leagues Club. Chair of NSW Rugby League management committee, 1937-38. Team manager Australian Rugby League team tour of New Zealand, England and France 1937-38. Trustee, Sydney Cricket Ground, 1958-59.
  • Cause of death: congestive heart failure, emphysema and bronchial asthma.

Sources
Labor Daily Year Book, 1933, 1934/35; Heather Radi, Peter Spearritt and Elizabeth Hinton, Biographical Register of the NSW Parliament 1901-1970 (Canberra, 1979); Peter Sheldon, Maintaining control: a history of unionism among employees of the Sydney Water Board, PhD thesis, University of Wollongong, 1989; interviews with C. Colbourne & J. Weir, 1984; Metropolitan Water, Sewerage & Drainage Board, Minutes, 4 April 1956; Metropolitan Water, Sewerage & Drainage Board, Annual Report, 1959/60; NSW Parliamentary Debates, 12 August 1959, pp.9-11.

Citation details

Peter Sheldon, 'Savage, Robert Emmett (Bob) (1895–1959)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, https://peopleaustralia.anu.edu.au/biography/savage-robert-emmett-bob-32570/text40424, accessed 27 November 2022.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012