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Membership Card for the Federated Clerk’s of Australia Union that belonged to Arthur Calwell #2010-0282

Small pink membership card with inscription ‘Federated Clerk’s Union of Australia’ in a brown leather pouch.

History

This membership card for the Federated Clerk’s Union of Australia 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 membership card was for the Federated Clerks’ Union which formed in 1911, and in 1993 amalgamated with other unions to become the body known today as the Australian Services Union. Calwell’s primary trade union affiliation was with the Victorian State Service Clerical Association (prior to 1924), and he then served as President of the Clerical Division of the Australian Public Service Association (Victorian Branch) 1925-31. This latter body had absorbed the VSSCA in 1925. The FCU was the federal body to which these unions affiliated, and was for many years a union influenced by the Industrial Groups, which made it the prize of savage factional disputes within the Australian Labor Party, both in the 1950s and later. It is possible that Calwell’s membership of the FCU also resulted from the events when he was President of the Victorian ALP in 1931, when the party expelled the Labor Premier of the day, E.J. Hogan. The FCU was affiliated with the ALP at the time.

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Statement of values

This membership card for the Federated Clerk’s Union of Australia is significant as part of the Arthur Calwell collection, which is comprised of a selection of objects that belonged to Australia’s first Minister for Immigration (1945-49), Arthur Calwell. The collection is significant as a whole because it tells a story about a leading Commonwealth parliamentarian of the middle decades of the twentieth century and includes highly personal material which tells of Calwell’s family life, his life-long involvement in Labor politics, and his personal religious convictions. The Arthur Calwell collection at the museum uniquely links the personal with the political, thus affording an opportunity to conduct research which tells a rounded story of this important parliamentarian.

This membership card is significant as representing the trade union affiliation required of every member of the Australian Labor Party at the time, and as an instance of trade union identity of a leading ALP figure.

Reference:

Calwell, Arthur, Be just and fear not, Victoria: Hawthorn, 1972.

Kiernan, Colm, Calwell: a personal and political biography, Melbourne: Thomas Nelson, 1978.

McMullin, Ross, Light on the Hill: History of the Australian Labor Party, 1891-1991, Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 1991.

  • Membership Card for the Federated Clerk’s of Australia Union that belonged to Arthur CalwellMembership Card for the Federated Clerk’s of Australia Union that belonged to Arthur Calwell —
  • Membership Card for the Federated Clerk’s of Australia Union that belonged to Arthur Calwell - backMembership Card for the Federated Clerk’s of Australia Union that belonged to Arthur Calwell - back —
  • Membership Card for the Federated Clerk’s of Australia Union that belonged to Arthur Calwell - frontMembership Card for the Federated Clerk’s of Australia Union that belonged to Arthur Calwell - front —

Details

Width 96mm
Height 74mm
Depth 4mm
Medium Paper card; leather; plastic
Creator’s name Unknown
Date created Circa 1954