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George Henry Buckland (1889–1966)

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This entry is from People Australia

George Henry Buckland (1889-1966) miner, trade union leader

Birth: 18 April 1889 at Mount Hope, New South Wales, son of Thomas Millman Buckland (1851-1915), a carpenter, later mine manager, born in Benenden, Kent, England, and native-born Janet Jessie, née Galt (1856-1943). Marriage: 1913 at Wrightville, Cobar, New South Wales, to native-born Violet Mildred Carr (1895-1975). They had one daughter and one son. Death: 13 July 1966 at Arncliffe, NSW. Religion: Anglican. 

  • Archetypal, powerful, conservative Australian Workers’ Union bureaucrat of the inter-war period. Widely versed in the working life of rural labourers through personal experience.
  • First union position was general secretary of Federated Miners’ Association. Lived at Cobar for many years. Became Secretary of the Mining Section of the AWU. In 1921 he succeeded W. H. Lambert as general secretary of the AWU’s central branch, while vice-president of the Australian Labor Party in NSW.
  • A supporter of Prime Minister Scullin, he contested seat of East Sydney in the Federal parliament in December 1931 against Lang Labor incumbent Eddie Ward. With the Labor vote split both men were defeated, but Ward narrowly regained the seat in February 1932.
  • Strongly anti-communist and anti-rank and file. In early 1930s, with colleague J. H. Bailey, he collaborated with the NSW Graziers’ Association to emasculate the Communist dual union Pastoral Workers’ Industrial Union of Australia.
  • In March 1933 both Buckland and Bailey were deposed from their AWU positions. Buckland remained in the AWU, was acting NSW branch secretary in 1938 and was appointed Federal Industrial Officer in March 1940.
  • Sometime president of the Arncliffe branch of the ALP, he was elected to the party’s executive at the unity conference of 1939. Appointed a Federal Conciliation Commissioner by the Chifley government in August 1947.
  • Cause of death: cancer, coronary sclerosis, previous coronary occlusion, left ventrical failure

Mark Hearn and Harry Knowles, A history of the Australian Workers Union 1886-1994 (Melbourne, 1996); George Buckland Papers, MLMSS 4320, State Library of New South Wales.

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Citation details

'Buckland, George Henry (1889–1966)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 13 June 2024.

© Copyright Labour Australia, 2012

George Buckland, 1931

George Buckland, 1931

Australian Worker (Sydney), 28 January 1931, p 5

Life Summary [details]


18 April, 1889
Mount Hope, New South Wales, Australia


13 July, 1966 (aged 77)
Arncliffe, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Cause of Death

cancer (not specified)

Cultural Heritage

Includes subject's nationality; their parents' nationality; the countries in which they spent a significant part of their childhood, and their self-identity.

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.

Key Organisations
Political Activism