Australian Dictionary of Biography

  • Tip: searches only the name field
  • Tip: Use double quotes to search for a phrase

Moroney, Timothy (Tim) (1890–1944)

by Joy Guyatt

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 10, (MUP), 1986

Timothy (Tim) Moroney (1890-1944), railwayman and union official, was born on 15 November 1890 at Nundah, Queensland, son of Irish immigrants Thomas Moroney (d.1900), labourer, and his wife Bridget, née O'Dea. Tim was educated at Nundah State School and Brisbane Normal School and in 1906 was employed by the Queensland Railway Department as a lad porter. He lost his job because of his activities with the railway strike committee in 1912 but was reinstated as a clerk in 1913.

He married Norah Violet Ruane in St Stephen's Cathedral, Brisbane, on 11 August 1915; they had two sons and a daughter. Norah died in 1936 and on 26 January 1938 in Holy Spirit Church, New Farm, Tim married his secretary Kathleen Annie Scully, who also bore him two sons.

His activities in the labour movement began in 1910 when he became a founding member of the Queensland United Railway Employees' Association; in 1917-20 he was general secretary of the Queensland Railway Union. When the Q.R.U. combined with 'all grades' organizations in other States to form the successful, militant Australian Railways Union in 1920, he became State secretary until his death. Moroney was Q.R.U. delegate in 1916-20 and 1923-26 to the State central executive of the Australian Labor Party and to the 1918, 1923 and 1926 Labor-in-Politics conventions.

He resigned temporarily from the central executive in January 1920 in protest against its acceptance of a delegate from the Returned Soldiers' and Sailors' Labor League. Having been on the State Railway Strike Council in 1925, Moroney and the other A.R.U. delegates were expelled—largely due to Labor premier William McCormack's influence—from the 1926 convention, and subsequently the party, on the grounds that only under protest had they signed pledges declaring that they were not members of the Communist Party. George Rymer and Moroney in 1927 led the A.R.U. in bitter clashes with the Labor government during the protracted South Johnstone strike and railway lockout. In 1929 Moroney joined the Militant Minority Movement of disillusioned Labor supporters before the elections in which McCormack was defeated.

A big, able man with a sense of humour, Moroney was the adored centre of his extended family. He was a fearless and forceful advocate, a convincing, logical speaker and a gifted writer, admired by fellow workers for the strength and humanity of his personality. He lectured for the Workers' Educational Association and was a driving force behind the education and propaganda classes initiated by the A.R.U. Many of his books, which formed part of the A.R.U. library, were from the George C. Kerr group of socialist publications and were influential in the development of his syndicalist philosophy. A critic of compromising Labor politicians, Moroney saw socialism and direct intervention by unions as the only answer to poverty and injustice. His interests included international affairs, the peace movement and the fight against fascism.

Moroney had been active in the anti-conscription campaign during World War I and had supported the Industrial Workers of the World against unjust persecution. With the A.R.U. isolated politically and industrially from the A.L.P., Moroney helped to found the Railway Transport Council, was general president of the A.R.U. in 1935-44 and inaugural president of the Combined Railway and Transport Unions Federal Council in 1936. During World War II he joined the Volunteer Defence Corps as an anti-aircraft gunner. In 1942-44 he was vice-president of the Australasian Council of Trade Unions.

Moroney edited the A.R.U. Advocate in 1930-44 and wrote several pamphlets on trade union and political subjects. He learned to pilot small planes for union business, had an interest in cine photography and was a member of the Queensland League of Wheelmen. In his later years he became a strict teetotaller. He died on 10 September 1944 in Genazzano Private Hospital, Brisbane, from coronary occlusion and was buried in Nudgee cemetery with Catholic rites.

Select Bibliography

  • F. Nolan, You Pass this Way Only Once (Brisb, 1974)
  • V. Daddow, The Puffing Pioneers and Queensland's Railway Builders (Brisb, 1975)
  • D. J. Murphy (ed), Labor in Politics (Brisb, 1975)
  • D. J. Murphy et al (eds), Labor in Power (Brisb, 1979)
  • Labour History, 31 Nov 1976, p 1
  • Telegraph (Brisbane), 11 Sept 1944
  • Advocate (Brisbane), 15 Sept 1944
  • Courier Mail (Brisbane), 11 Oct 1944
  • private information.

Citation details

Joy Guyatt, 'Moroney, Timothy (Tim) (1890–1944)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/moroney-timothy-tim-7657/text13393, published first in hardcopy 1986, accessed online 23 November 2017.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 10, (MUP), 1986

View the front pages for Volume 10

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2017