Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Considine, Michael Patrick (1885–1959)

by Frank Farrell

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 8, (MUP), 1981

Michael Patrick Considine (1885-1959), by unknown photographer, 1910s

Michael Patrick Considine (1885-1959), by unknown photographer, 1910s

National Library of Australia, nla.pic-an23594699

Michael Patrick Considine (1885-1959), union militant and politician, was born probably on 26 January 1885, in County Mayo, Ireland, son of Michael Patrick Considine of the Royal Irish Constabulary, and his wife Margaret Josephine, née Lowney. Brought to New South Wales in September 1890 by his mother, Mick was brought up as a Catholic at Kempsey and later moved to Sydney where he became prominent in the 1908 strike of tramway workers. He was also a member of the Socialist Federation of Australia, but resigned after a dispute over the role of Henry Holland in the Broken Hill strike of 1909. Early next year Considine spent six months in gaol for demonstrating in Sydney against the Wade government's Industrial Disputes Act and the gaoling of Peter Bowling. After his release Considine worked on the wharves and in March 1911 moved to Broken Hill where he found work as a greaser.

Considine rose rapidly in the militant Amalgamated Miners' Association and became its president during World War I. He was for a time a member of the Marxist Australian Socialist Party, but had to resign over his support for a union-controlled political party. In 1916 he helped to achieve a forty-four hour week for underground miners. On 23 January 1918 at Eaglehawk, Victoria, he married, with Baptist forms, Bessie Washington.

In 1917 Considine succeeded the moderate Josiah Thomas as Labor member for the Federal seat of Barrier in the House of Representatives, in the aftermath of the conscription split. With unruly, dark, wavy hair and a cleft chin, he attracted attention as a spokesman of the far left: conservative criticism of him reached a peak when he announced that he was acting consul for the new Bolshevik government of Russia. In July 1919 in Melbourne City Court he received three weeks imprisonment and was fined £100 for saying publicly, 'bugger the King, he is a bloody German bastard'. Next month he was suspended from the House for four weeks for refusing to withdraw an assertion that the Australian government was supporting the forces of Kolchak in Russia.

After the split in the New South Wales Labor Party in 1919 Considine came under increasing pressure from the right-wing executive and resigned from the party late in 1920. He was defeated in the 1922 election as an Industrial Socialist Labor Party candidate. After an attempt at poultry farming in Victoria, he was back at Broken Hill in 1926 and rejoined the Australian Labor Party but, despite strong support from mining and other left-wing unions, he failed to gain endorsement for the Darling seat then held by Arthur Blakeley.

From 1927 Considine lived at Bond Street, Ivanhoe, Melbourne, and described himself as an agent. He had various jobs until and during the Depression, then worked for the Melbourne and Metropolitan Tramways Board. In the 1930s he was a delegate for several unions on the Trades Hall Council, Melbourne, and was a proponent of Labor's 'socialisation units'. Secretary of the Ivanhoe branch of the Australian Labor Party for many years, he was a rebel at Labor conferences in the 1930s and 1940s. From 1942 he worked in Melbourne employment offices of the Department of Labour and National Service, then returned to the tramways as a checker.

Considine died suddenly on 2 November 1959 and was cremated after a Rationalist service. He was survived by his wife, son and two daughters.

Select Bibliography

  • All-Australian Trades Union Conference, Official Report (Melb, 1921)
  • G. Blainey, The Rise of Broken Hill (Melb, 1968)
  • B. Walker, Solidarity Forever (Melb, 1972)
  • B. Kennedy, Silver, Sin, and Sixpenny Ale (Melb, 1978)
  • Labor History, Melbourne, Recorder, Apr 1978
  • Australian Worker, 24 Feb 1910, 31 July 1919, 9 Jan, 13 Feb, 17 Sept, 1 Oct 1924, 14 Oct 1925
  • Barrier Daily Truth, 6 Jan, 7 Aug 1916, 16, 17 Jan, 30, 31 Oct, 7-28 Nov, 1-18 Dec 1922, 3 May 1954
  • Sun, 8 Feb 1916
  • Labor Call, 8 Aug 1918
  • Australasian, 2 Aug, 6 Sept 1919
  • Attorney-General's Dept, A456, W26/199 [405], and Dept of Labour and National Service, MP24/1, V3085 (National Archives of Australia)
  • private information.

Citation details

Frank Farrell, 'Considine, Michael Patrick (1885–1959)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/considine-michael-patrick-5758/text9755, published first in hardcopy 1981, accessed online 25 November 2017.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 8, (MUP), 1981

View the front pages for Volume 8

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2017

Michael Patrick Considine (1885-1959), by unknown photographer, 1910s

Michael Patrick Considine (1885-1959), by unknown photographer, 1910s

National Library of Australia, nla.pic-an23594699