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Nathaniel Willie (Bill) Burke (1889–1970)

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This entry is from People Australia

Nathaniel Willie (Bill) Burke (1889-1970) postal worker and trade union leader 

Birth: 2 November 1889 at Hartley Vale, New South Wales, son of Nathaniel Burke, miner later caretaker, and Lucy Jane, née Giblett. Marriage: 9 October 1912 at Annandale, Sydney to native-born Julia Ann McKenzie (1887-1970). They had two daughters. Death: 8 August 1970 in hospital at Beverly Hills, NSW. Religion: Presbyterian. 

  • Appointed after a competitive examination to the Postmaster-General’s Department, NSW branch, as telegraph messenger on probation at Burraga on 26 May 1904. On 10 February 1907 he was promoted to assistant mail boy at Petersham, Sydney.
  • Assistant secretary of the Australian Letter Carriers’ Association, NSW branch, 1912-25. General secretary in 1924-25, in lead up to amalgamation.
  • From 1925 to 1929 was assistant secretary, NSW branch, Amalgamated Postal Workers’ Union (APWU). Secretary APWU, NSW branch 1929-1947. General Secretary-Treasurer, APWU of Australia from 1947 to 1955. Editor of union journal. Research and industrial officer for union, 1956.
  • At various times was prominent in Annandale and Lakemba branches of Australian Labor Party. In 1931, was vice-president of the ALP Reid Electoral Council.
  • Awarded the British Empire Medal in June 1960.
  • Cause of death cancer of bronchus, pyelocystitis.

The Postal Advocate
, January 1956, August 1970; Labor Daily (Sydney), 13 January 1927; Labor Year Book, 1934/5; Frank Waters [Denis Murphy ed], Postal unions and politics: a history of the Amalgamated Postal Workers Union of Australia (St Lucia, 1978).

Citation details

'Burke, Nathaniel Willie (Bill) (1889–1970)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 20 July 2024.

© Copyright Labour Australia, 2012

Life Summary [details]


2 November, 1889
Hartley Vale, New South Wales, Australia


8 August, 1970 (aged 80)
Beverly Hills, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Cause of Death

cancer (lung)

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