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Peter Fallon (1881–1956)

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This entry is from People Australia

Peter Fallon, n.d.

Peter Fallon, n.d.

Peter Fallon (1882-1956) tailor and trade union official 

Birth: 23 February 1881 at Tamworth, New South Wales, son of Joseph Patrick Fallon (1850-1905), stonemason and brickmaker, and Mary Ann, née Riley (1851-1941). Both parents had been born in Lancashire, England. Marriage: 7 April 1910 at St Mary’s Church, Erskineville, Sydney, to Sydney-born Agnes Philomena Roche (1885-1967). They had three daughters and one son. Death: 9 February 1956 at St Leonards, Sydney. Religion: Catholic.

  • Parents and elder siblings arrived in Sydney in May 1879 aboard the Peterborough.
  • Peter worked as a tailor with W. Chorley and Co. and Cavanaghs, George Steet, Sydney. Later was a commercial traveller.
  • Helped organise Amalgamated Journeymen Tailors' Association (AJTA — re-established Sydney 1896). President AJTA 1904-1905. Active in early closing movement. Helped in amalgamation of Tailors', Pressers', Cutters' & Trimmers', Straw Hatters' & Tailoresses' unions into one organisation. Led support within NSW Branch Federated Clothing Trades' Union (FCTU) for One Big Union 1918-1919, against opposition of branch secretary Jack Crombie, but interest in political affairs subsequently abated.
  • Organiser NSW Branch FCTU 19?-19?; elected branch secretary Federated Clothing and Allied Trades Union (ex-FCTU) January 1923, on Crombie's retirement, retaining position until August 1954, when forced by ill-health to stand down. Initially committed to revitalising federal union; instrumental in formation of Amalgamated Clothing & Allied Trades' Union of Australia 1924. Supported pro-arbitration stance of Commonwealth Council of Federated Unions (est. 1923).
  • President of Commonwealth Grand Council; policy differences with federal secretary Bert Carter in 1932/33 prompted threat of federal intervention in NSW Branch; instrumental in Branch's move to isolationist and more conservative political position in early 1930s; also in Branch's disaffiliation from NSW ALP in 1934 (possibly due to his disappointment at not having secured appointment by Lang government to Labor Council of NSW).
  • Highly critical of Australian Council of Trade Unions’ stance in early 1930s, moving unsuccessfully for ACATU's disaffiliation from ACTU at union's 1933 federal grand council; had legendary ability to conjure up numbers to enhance NSW Branch's size; unlike Vic. Branch secretary, Alf Wallis, was unsympathetic to campaign by Council of Action for Equal Pay on behalf of female workers in late 1930s, seeing it as a threat to marriage and motherhood.
  • Survived assault on 'Old Guard' leadership by female communist rank-and-filers in 1943, although one of organisers forced to resign after discovery of embezzlement; thwarted rank-and-file attempts to re-affiliate Branch with Labor Council NSW and ALP until 1941-2, when both bodies became more moderate; sympathetic to Groupers' anti-communist stance after World War II.
  • Federal president ACATU 1936 to 1952. Member of the executives of Labor Council NSW and ACTU.
  • Member of the Legislative Council for NSW from 24 September 1952 to his death.
  • A prominent Catholic layman, he was a member of the Hibernian Australian Catholic Benefit Society.

Heather Radi, Peter Spearritt & Elizabeth Hinton, Biographical Register of the NSW Parliament 1901-1970 (Canberra, 1979); Bradon Ellem, In women’s hands? A history of clothing trades unionism in Australia (Sydney, 1989); Labor Daily (Sydney), 13 January 1927.

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Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

'Fallon, Peter (1881–1956)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 20 July 2024.

© Copyright Labour Australia, 2012

Peter Fallon, n.d.

Peter Fallon, n.d.

Life Summary [details]


23 February, 1881
Tamworth, New South Wales, Australia


9 February, 1956 (aged 74)
St Leonards, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

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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