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Dooley, John Braidwood (1883–1961)

by Robin Gollan and Moira Scollay

This entry is from the Australian Dictionary of Biography

John Braidwood Dooley (1883-1961), trade union organizer and senator, was born on 11 November 1883 at Tumbarumba, New South Wales, son of John Dooley, labourer and unionist, and his wife Sarah Anne, née Harvey. Educated at Wagga Wagga Superior Public School and at Courabyra, Dooley worked at an early age as a shearer and miner. In 1898 he supported the fight against wage reductions at the Adelong Gibraltar gold mine and in 1901-04, as an organizer of the Rural Workers' Union, was involved in shearing disputes. He became converted to the conciliation and arbitration system.

In 1910 Dooley, then a labourer on the Sydney railways, organized the tramway permanent way employees into the Railway Workers' and General Labourers' Association. He was honorary secretary of the Tramway Permanent Way section of the union for three years and an assessor on the Tramway (Permanent Way) Wages Board. He aided the entry of the association into the Australian Workers' Union in 1916 as the Railway Workers' Industry branch, and that year was elected its Newcastle district organizer. He became president of the Lambton No-Conscription Council and for two years was a member of the New South Wales central executive of the Australian Labor Party. President of the Railway Workers' Industry branch in 1919 and 1920, Dooley was an organizer in 1918-20 and a delegate to several Australian Labor Party conferences, Australian Workers' Union conventions and the 1921 All-Australian Trade Union Congress in Melbourne. However, he lost his bids to become secretary in 1921 and 1922 and to regain his presidency in 1923.

Failing to establish a business of his own, Dooley continued as a labourer until he became works foreman for the New South Wales Water Conservation and Irrigation Commission in the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area. While in charge of concreting work on the Burrinjuck Dam he formed the Burrinjuck branch of the Labor Party and was its president until 1925, when he was defeated in the Senate elections. Dooley then returned to Sydney where he was a successful A.W.U.-sponsored Senate candidate in 1928.

In parliament he spoke in favour of arbitration and the White Australia policy, and against the Transport Workers' Act (1928). He served on many parliamentary committees including the Joint Committee on Public Works. Deputy leader of the Senate in August-October 1929 and February-August 1932 he was assistant minister for works and railways from March 1931, aligning himself with the Scullin-Theodore section of the party against the Lang faction. Towards the end of 1931 he administered the Department of Home Affairs. Defeated in the September 1934 elections, when the A.W.U. gave its support to the Lang group, Dooley retired from public life to earn his living as a works supervisor. He died on 2 August 1961 at St George Hospital, Kogarah, where he had been ill for some time. Survived by his wife Julia May Bourgoir, whom he had married on 11 January 1909 at the Tumut Roman Catholic Church, and by his six daughters and two of his three sons, Dooley was cremated after a state funeral. His estate was valued for probate at £2628.

Select Bibliography

  • Labor Daily, 26 Nov 1924, 10 Oct, 13 Nov 1928
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 23 Mar, 1 Apr 1925, 6 Dec 1928, 4 Feb 1930, 3 Mar, 11 Sept 1931, 4 Aug 1961
  • Australian Worker, 12 Oct 1916, 1 Feb 1917, 30 Jan 1919, 29 Jan 1920, 20 Jan 1921, 2 Feb 1922, 24 Jan 1923, 14 Oct 1925, 11 Dec 1929.

Citation details

Robin Gollan and Moira Scollay, 'Dooley, John Braidwood (1883–1961)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://labouraustralia.anu.edu.au/biography/dooley-john-braidwood-6001/text10249, accessed 23 November 2017.

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