Is the Track Clear ?

"Chifley's on the engine, don't be afraid.
"Chifley knows what he is doing," said the little maid.
"We'll soon be out of danger; don't you ever fear.
"Everyone is safe because he is an engineer."  – Old ballad revised.


It is a far cry from the footplate of a railway engine to the Prime Minister's chair. Mr Chifley was for years a locomotive driver in the NSW Railways, and in his spare the job at the Railways Institute, Sydney. Now he is in charge of the national express, and if we regard "the little maid" of the old sob song as Miss Australia, we can pay the new Prime Minister a delicate compliment.

Bathurst, NSW, is Mr Chifley's home town. Between that town, by the way, and Orange, not far distant, there is the same kind of rivalry that used to exist between Wangaratta and Beechworth. Bathurst is in the electorate of Macquarie, which he has represented from 1928 to 1931 and since 1940.

Simplicity is the keynote to Mr Chifley's life.

At Canberra he claims that he can live on £2/10/ a week, and advises his associates to do likewise. His only extravagance is tobacco, for he is an inveterate pipe smoker. There is a school of thought, however, which claims that he smokes matches more than tobacco. After a heavy week's work he will relax by spending the weekend in bed at the Hotel Kurrajong, reading detective stories. Mrs Chifley, who does not enjoy good health, lives with her mother at the Bathurst home which Mr Chifley bought years ago for £200.

Born at Bathurst in 1885, the new Prime Minister attended a half time bush school at Limekitns, near Bathurst, until he was 13, and then went to the Patrician Brothers' High School, Bathurst, until he was 15.

His father was a blacksmith, who had worked for the same firm for 40 years, Mr Chifley's grandparents, came from Ireland more than a century ago.

"In my electorate, I witnessed the freedom that was enjoyed by 2,000 men outside a factory in an          attempt to secure the one job that was offeringthe freedom to starve and to live on the dole of 8s. 9d. a week—a single man on 5s. 6dthe freedom of the economic individualists whose only God was Mammon and profitI would prefer regimentation to economic individualism".

See more in Australian Dictionary of Biography 

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