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William Walter (Bill) Brown (1920–2001)

This article was published:

This entry is from People Australia

William Brown, by Australian Information Service, 1971

William Brown, by Australian Information Service, 1971

National Library of Australia, 6456752

William Walter Charles (Bill) Brown (1920-2001) cabinet-maker, trade union leader and politician. 

Birth: 12 December 1920 in Brunswick, Victoria, son of native-born parents William Samuel Brown, cabinetmaker, and Sarah Eileen ‘Irene’, née Ryder (1889-1938). Marriage: 5 November 1941 in St Paul’s Catholic Church, Coburg, Victoria, to Winifred Mary ‘Peg’ Boyle (1920-1999), a textile worker. They had one son and four daughters. Death: 26 June 2001 in a nursing home at Greensborough, Victoria. Religion: Catholic. 

  • His father was an officer with Victorian Furnishing Trades Union, member of Coburg branch of the Australian Labor Party, and an original speaker on Radio 3KZ Labor Hour.
  • Young Bill was educated at St Paul’s School and Taylor’s Coaching College. Cabinet maker on completion of apprenticeship. From the age of six he helped his father campaigning for the ALP and joined the party as a young man.
  • In 1935 he was a member of the Federated Furnishing Trade Society of Australasia [FFTSA].
  • Served with Citizen Military Forces from November 1941 until August 1942, when he was released to join the Second Australian Imperial Force. He served with the 16th Field Regiment, rose to the rank of sergeant and was discharged on 9 January 1946.
  • Returned to his trade and worked with furniture-making firms.
  • In 1954 was Victorian State organiser for the FFTSA, in 1959 State secretary-treasurer, in 1964 federal secretary, and in 1973 State and federal vice-president.
  • In 1961 he was president of the Melbourne Trades Hall Council. He was member of the Victorian Apprenticeship Commission from 1962 to 1965.
  • Browne was ACTU delegate to 1963 International Labour Organisation conference in Geneva. From 1965 to 1968 he was president of the Victorian branch of the ALP and from 1969 to 1971 Federal vice-president.
  • In November 1969, after death of S.H. Cohen, Brown was chosen as Senator by Victorian parliament. He was subsequently elected to the Australian Senate in 1970.
  • A dedicated parliamentarian, he was chairman of Labor caucus in 1972 and served on several Senate committees. He was defeated at the general election of 10 December 1977.
  • Suffered chronic ill health during his long retirement.

Labor Year Book
, 1973; Merrifield papers, LaTrobe Library; Joan Rydon, A Biographical Register of the Commonwealth Parliament, 1901-1972 (Canberra, 1975); Drew Cottle, Brown, William Walter Charles, in Biographical Dictionary of the Australian Senate:

Citation details

'Brown, William Walter (Bill) (1920–2001)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 20 June 2024.

© Copyright Labour Australia, 2012

William Brown, by Australian Information Service, 1971

William Brown, by Australian Information Service, 1971

National Library of Australia, 6456752

Life Summary [details]


12 December, 1920
Brunswick, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia


26 June, 2001 (aged 80)
Greensborough, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

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.

Military Service
Key Organisations
Political Activism