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Percy Joseph Smith (1880–1959)

This article was published:

This entry is from People Australia

Percy Smith, 1922 [caricature]

Percy Smith, 1922 [caricature]

Labor Call (Melbourne), 2 March 1922, p 4

Percy Joseph Smith (1881-1959) builders’ labourer, trade union leader and Labor party candidate. 

Birth: 3 November 1880 in Terang, Victoria, son of native-born Joseph Hannath Smith, junior (1857-1931), labourer, and Jemima, née Mackay (1852-1932), born in Edinburgh, Scotland. Marriage: 1906 at Camperdown, Victoria, to Edith Victoria Button (1882-1970). They had seven sons and five daughters. Death: 28 September 1959 in Austin Hospital, Heidelberg, Victoria. 

  • Was a labourer in Terang in 1903.
  • About 1907 joined Builders Laborers’ Union in Geelong, which was a separate organisation like Ballarat and Bendigo and not connected to the Melbourne union. Moved to Melbourne and joined the Melbourne union in 1910.
  • Became President of the Victorian branch of the Australian Builders Labourers’ Federation. Elected Secretary of the Victorian branch of Builders’ Laborers’ Union upon retirement of Ben Mulvogue.
  • General Secretary of the Australian Builders Labourers’ Federation from 1912.
  • Member of first Wages Board. Court advocate.
  • After an accident injuring his kidney in 1922 he returned to work.
  • Contested Balaclava Federal seat for the Australian Labor Party in 1919. Was a Lang Labor candidate for Batman.
  • Ousted by Dick Loughnan in 1932.
  • An alcoholic. Cause of death bronchopneumonia, cardiac failure and arteriosclerosis.

Merrifield Card Index; Labor Year Book, 1934/5 p 235; Labor Call (Melbourne), 2 March 1922, p 4; Age (Melbourne), 30 September 1959; Humphrey McQueen, We built this country: builders’ labourers and their unions, 1787 to the future (Port Adelaide, 2011).

Additional Resources

  • profile, Labor Call (Melbourne), 2 March 1922, p 4

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

'Smith, Percy Joseph (1880–1959)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 24 June 2024.

© Copyright Labour Australia, 2012

Percy Smith, 1922 [caricature]

Percy Smith, 1922 [caricature]

Labor Call (Melbourne), 2 March 1922, p 4

Life Summary [details]


3 November, 1880
Terang, Victoria, Australia


28 September, 1959 (aged 78)
Heidelberg, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Cause of Death


Cultural Heritage

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