New South Wales Catholic Club Badge that belonged to Arthur Calwell #2010-0276
Metal oval badge with inscription ‘LIFE MEMBER NEW SOUTH WALES CATHOLIC CLUB’ on the front and ‘A. A. Calwell M.P.’ engraved on the back.
This badge is part of a collection of objects that belonged to Arthur Calwell, Australia’s first Minister for Immigration (1945-49) that were donated to the museum by his daughter, Dr Mary Elizabeth Calwell.
This badge belonged to Arthur Calwell. The Catholic Church in New South Wales remained more closely associated with the Australian Labor Party in the aftermath of the Split of 1954-55 than in Calwell’s own state of Victoria, where he was often attacked by pro-Democratic Labour Party activists as a traitor to their cause. This very different approach in NSW meant that the minority Labor group, later known as the DLP, would not build a strong national presence, despite its strength in Victoria and Queensland. Calwell’s life membership of the Catholic Club, still located in the Sydney CBD, may at times have played an important part in giving him a continuing sense of connection with majority Catholic opinion. According to Patrick O’Farrell, ‘the Catholic Club, founded in 1905, was, by the 1930s, a favoured gathering place for Catholic labour movement members, but it was a centre of social not intellectual activity’ (O’Farrell, 1977: p 380).