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Carlo Camillo Lazzarini (1880–1952)

by Bede Nairn

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Carlo Camillo Lazzarini (1880-1952), tailor and politician, was born on 24 April 1880 at Wombat, New South Wales, son of Pietro Lazzarini, labourer, of Italy, and his wife Annie, née Stubbs, of Sydney. Educated at the Young convent and public school, he was apprenticed to a tailor. He joined the Young Labor League, campaigned for John Watson in 1898 and 1901, and became secretary of the league.

Moving to Sydney, Charlie Lazzarini was active in the Labor Party and in the tailors' union, and was secretary and president of the Federated Clothing Trades' Union in 1912-17 and its delegate on the Labor Council of New South Wales. He joined the party opposition to William Holman and, a strong anti-conscriptionist in World War I, was a member of the Industrial Vigilance Committee in 1916-19 which took over the party machine and expelled Holman, Billy Hughes and many others in 1916. He took part in Catholic social activities and became a district secretary of the Hibernian Australasian Catholic Benefit Society. In 1915 he was at the formation meeting of the Irish National Association of New South Wales, called by Albert Dryer.

Lazzarini was an influential member of the successful moderates in the kaleidoscopic factionalism in the Labor Party and was on the executive in 1916-17. In 1917 he was vice-president of the No Imperial Federation League. That year he defeated ex-Laborite Thomas Crawford for the seat of Marrickville in the Legislative Assembly. On 26 April 1919 at St Brigid's Church, Marrickville, he married Myra Hurley. Next year he was a director of the Freeman's Journal.

A member for Western Suburbs in 1920-27 and party whip in 1920-21, Lazzarini was minister for state industrial enterprises in James Dooley's ministries in 1921-22. He continued as a prominent member, with Peter Loughlin and Patrick Minahan, of the Catholic-reformist Labor group in 1922-25. He backed majority parliamentarian opinion against union extremists led by John Garden and, to 1923, the executive, which was dominated by the Australian Workers' Union headed by John Bailey. In 1925 Lazzarini became chief secretary in John Thomas Lang's first cabinet, and confronted problems associated with the increasing number of motor cars, bus competition with government trams and allegations of corruption in the police force. He was acting secretary for mines in 1927.

With other Labor parliamentarians he clashed with Lang over the new 'red rules' foreshadowed at a special conference in November 1926. After they had been adopted by the Easter 1927 party conference and Lang confirmed as leader independent of caucus and cabinet, the premier reconstructed his ministry in May, omitting Lazzarini. But he remained in the party and won Marrickville in October.

Lazzarini maintained his rage against Lang and by 1936 was one of the few caucus members openly opposed to 'one-man control'. In August, with Robert Heffron, E. M. Horsington, and Mark Davidson, he was expelled from the party, but was readmitted next year. He remained a strong critic of Lang, and in 1938 joined Heffron in the Industrial Labor Party and was part of the pressure that led to a unity conference in August next year, at which the Lang forces were defeated. He was an assistant minister in (Sir) William McKell's ministry in 1941-44, and was still in parliament when he died of coronary vascular disease on 26 November 1952. Buried in Rookwood cemetery, he was survived by his wife and a son. Hubert Peter Lazzarini (1886-1952), a Labor member of the Federal parliament in 1919-31 and 1934-52, was his brother.

Select Bibliography

  • Sydney Morning Herald, 26 Mar 1917, 10 Oct 1921, 11 Dec 1923, 11, 30 July 1925, 24 Aug 1936, 17 May 1941, 27 Nov 1952
  • Fighting Line, 22 Apr 1920
  • Freeman's Journal (Sydney), 13 Oct 1921, 18 June 1925.

Citation details

Bede Nairn, 'Lazzarini, Carlo Camillo (1880–1952)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1986, accessed online 18 July 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 10, (Melbourne University Press), 1986

View the front pages for Volume 10

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


24 April, 1880
Wombat, New South Wales, Australia


26 November, 1952 (aged 72)
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

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