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John Michael (Jack) Durkin (1880–1950)

This article was published:

This entry is from People Australia

AWU Executive, 1922 [Durkin is second from left, back row]

AWU Executive, 1922 [Durkin is second from left, back row]

from Daily Standard (Brisbane), 28 October, 1922, p 8

John Michael (Jack) Durkin (1880- 1950) shearer, trade union official 

Birth: 30 October 1880 at Ollera, near Armidale, New South Wales, eldest surviving son of Irish-born John Michael Durkin (1856-1942), labourer, later farmer, and native-born Bridget Agnes O’Brien, née Kelly (1863-1945). Marriage: (1) 6 June 1921 to Helena Georgina Neilsen, who died in 1922. (2) 30 May 1929 to Thelma May Jenkin. They had one daughter, and divorced on 6 June 1947.  Death: 5 June 1950 in Brisbane Hospital. Religion: Catholic.

  • Aged 14 he performed picket duty at Moree, in 1894 shearers strike. Became shearer and organiser for Australian Workers’ Union in western Queensland, holding post for six years.
  • Took principled stand as Australian Labor Party candidate for Murilla in the 1918 Queensland elections, criticising the Queensland Labor government over its stand on 44-hour week.
  • In December 1920 elected Western District (Longreach branch) secretary of AWU, defeating veteran Richard Bow.
  • Contested unsuccessfully ALP pre-selection plebiscite for Federal Senate in November 1924.
  • In November 1926 was dismissed from position of AWU district secretary for refusing to white ant the Australian Railways Union.
  • As an independent, lost to official ALP candidate ‘Dick’ Bow in by-election for Legislative Assembly seat of Mitchell in May 1928.
  • Was a ‘Left Wing’ [pro-Communist] candidate for Fortitude Valley, in 1929 State elections.
  • In the 1930s worked as a shearer and miner around Brisbane. In the 1940s was a farmer and grazier at the family’s property, Arranmore, near Glen Innes, NSW, which his father had taken up as a selector in the 1890s.
  • Cause of death lymphatic leukemia and hepatic cirrhosis.

Workers’ Weekly (Sydney), 8 March 1929, p 4.

Additional Resources

  • profile, Workers' Weekly (Sydney), 8 March 1929, p 4

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

'Durkin, John Michael (Jack) (1880–1950)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 14 June 2024.

© Copyright Labour Australia, 2012

AWU Executive, 1922 [Durkin is second from left, back row]

AWU Executive, 1922 [Durkin is second from left, back row]

from Daily Standard (Brisbane), 28 October, 1922, p 8

Life Summary [details]


30 October, 1880
Armidale, New South Wales, Australia


5 June, 1950 (aged 69)
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

Cause of Death

cancer (leukemia)

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.

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