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James (Jim) Doyle (1918–2020)

by Allison Murchie

This article was published:

This entry is from People Australia

James (Jim) Doyle (1918-2020) shearer, Communist and trade union official

Birth: 13 July 1918 in Rockhampton, Queensland, son of James George Doyle, also known as William Charles Wright (1891-1974), carrier, and Ada May, née Eves (1896-1931). Both parents had been born in Queensland. Marriage: 1956 at Broken Hill, New South Wales, to Valma Mary Panton. Death: 15 August 2020 at Adelaide, South Australia. 

  • Entered the pastoral industry at the age of 15, worked in shearing sheds picking up fleeces and sweeping. Was a member of the AWU (Australian Workers Union) from the age of 16.
  • Joined the Communist Party of Australia in 1936 and remained a member up to the mid 1960s. Joined the Australian Labor Party in Queensland in 1936, a member for 2 years only.
  • Became a shearer in 1939. He was the shed representative for the AWU in most the sheds that he worked in and was secretary of numerous committees.
  • Worked all over Queensland, in Burke (New South Wales), Dubbo and Broken Hill. Moved to NSW in 1939. In Dubbo was on the Central Committee for wages and conditions.
  • In World War II he was called up on 8 December 1941 in Victoria for full-time duty in the Citizen Military Forces. Posted to the 6th Battalion, which moved to Western Australia in April 1942. Spent July to December 1942 and May to November 1943 on leave without pay to work as a shearer. The battalion had relocated to the Northern Territory in September 1943. Served briefly with it there before being discharged in Victoria on 29 February 1944.
  • Was in Victoria from 1944 to 1950, working as shearer. Continued shearing until 1964, using Broken Hill as a base. In 1950 he organised a successful 2-week strike for over award payments.
  • South Australian Branch organiser for AWU from 1971 to 1982. Secretary, 1978; vice president, 1979; and on federal executive, 1981.
  • As a shearer he helped to politically educate men like Mick Young and Jack Wright. Other union officials tried to keep him off the ballot as he was a Communist and the Crimes Act said that he could not stand.
  • As SA organiser he covered most of the State – in 1971 he was stationed at Whyalla and covered the west of SA for wool, wheat, Engineering and Water Supply Department and Highways workers.
  • Rejoined ALP in 1970.

Oral History interview recoded by Jude Elton (OH 589/2) held in the State Library of SA.

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

Allison Murchie, 'Doyle, James (Jim) (1918–2020)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 14 June 2024.

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