From Footplate to Forum

By Arthur S. Drakeford.

Apart from the general satisfaction that will be felt by locomotive men at the great vote given to Labour under the inspiring leadership of Jim Scullin in the recent campaign, there is reason for particular gratification to members of the A.F.U.L.E. in the election of Comrade J. B. Chifley, of Bathurst, New South Wales, to be the representative of Macquarie in the House of Representatives.

In the 1925 election fought under most adverse political circumstances our comrade of the footplate put up a great fight under heavy odds against the Whip of the Bruce Government, Mr. Manning, running him to within 903 votes in a total poll of 36,009.

The figures were:

Manning, A. G. ----- 18,456
Chifley J. B. ----------17,553
Majority for Manning    903

This showed that victory was within measurable distance of achievement and that Nationalism realised such to be the case is shown by the desperate efforts made by no less a personage than the Prime Minister himself to stave off defeat.

Mr. Bruce spoke at 12 meetings on Mr. Manning's behalf, but the personality and capacity of the Labour candidate, and the well-organised fight put up on his behalf under the direction of E. G. Theodore, in which Comrade Chifley's Railway Comrades played an active and capable part, but the fact that, given a first-class candidate, and a good fight, Macquarie is,
under normal political conditions, a Labour constituency beyond doubt.

The figures for the 1928 election gave the following result:--

Chifley J. B. ---------- 20,155
Manning, A. G. ------ 16,557
Majority for Chifley     3,577

Mr. B. J. Chifley, M.H.R.
Ben Chifiey has for many years played an active and constructive part in the development of the A.F.U.L.E., and the welfare of its members, both in 3 Union and Departmental sense, and has figured with credit to himself and our Union, and the Labour movement, in that State.

As an Instructor for the Railways' Institute in New South Wales, many locomotive men have profited by his advice and instruction. He was at all times anxious that the men of the footplate should have the fullest knowledge of their responsible calling, and made many sacrifices of personal interests to impart all the knowledge he could, both on theoretical and practical matters.

To the Union affairs he gave very generously of his time and energy, and has, on numerous occasions, represented Bathurst at the Annual Delegate Meeting of his Division, and the Division itself at Federal Conferences, over a period of years in nearly every State of Australia.

For the past 11 years he has been one of the country members of the General Committee in New South Wales, and was closely associated with the work of restoring it to the position of the strongest Division of the Federal Union in numbers, after the severe set-back which occurred to it, and other New South Wales Unions, in 1917.

In its worst periods he gave active and enthusiastic support and service to the Officers and Executive of the Division, and his experience and counsel was of value to them all.

Had he been residing in Sydney he would have undoubtedly have been pressed to accept the position of President, a post which he was well qualified to fill with credit to the organisation and himself.

As a native of Bathurst, he has spent practically all his life there and has interested himself in many of that city's activities.

He has occupied the position of Chairman of the Bathurst Hospital Committee, Chairman of the Bathurst Branch of the A.L.P. and its representative at the State Conference, is a member of the Committee of the Bathurst Racing Club, and, amongst other things, is a member of the Board of
Directors of the National Advocate, a democratIc daily paper with headquarters at Bathurst, which supports Labour's policy and circulates throughout the district.

There are now five locomotive men in the respective State Parliaments of the Commonwealth, one of whom, Mr. J. Wilcox, has reached Ministerial rank and is now Minister for Railways in the West Australian Parliament. The other locomotive men being H. J. George (S.A.), W. Ainsworth (N.S.W.), J. J. Kenneally (WA.), and A. S. Drakeford (Vic.).

Comrade Chifley, however, is the first member of the organisation to reach to the position of a member of the Commonwealth Parliament of Australia, and his fellow footplatemen are proud of his achievement on behalf of Labour and feel sure that he will do it such credit in that position that his
colleagues, and the electors, will want to see more of them in the Federal legislative halls.

The members of the A.F.U.L.E. in Victoria join heartily in congratulations to our comrade on the successful step forward he has made from the footplate to the forum. While that pleasure is tinged with a feeling of regret that they have lost one of the most enthusiastic, efficient, and capable men from the ranks of our active workers. they will look with kindly and expectant eyes to his career in the Federal sphere with hopes high for the good service which we know he can give to the people who have chosen him as their Federal tribune, and to his political future with confidence, because of his character, capacity, and wide and democratic outlook on Australia's many and pressing problems.

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