Victor Isaacs

Abstract: John Dias was an active unionist from the 1890s to the 1920s. His experiences included the Queensland shearers’ dispute, with William Lane’s utopian Australian settlements in Paraguay, in Broken Hill during two major disputes, prominence in the Kalgoorlie goldfields’ unions, with the Melbourne Trades Hall and Victorian Labor Party, and in particular leaving a mark on the Carpenters’ Union. Today he is commemorated by a plaque bearing a very generous tribute at the main entrance to the Melbourne Trades Hall.  But he is little remembered. This paper will document his peripatetic and varied career in the labour movement.

 “John Dias Born May 11 1861 – Died August 13 1924.  A man whose every endeavour was in the cause of the worker and to uplift humanity – a token of respect from those who knew him.”

So reads a plaque at the main entrance to Melbourne’s Trades Hall building.  Who was this man who today is not well remembered and cannot be considered among the leading personalities of Australian trade union history, yet on his passing in 1924 inspired such respect and affection?

John (also known as Jack) Dias led an exciting and varied life, which touched on many aspects of Australian history from the 1860s to the 1920s.  His career included time in Queensland, New South Wales, Western Australia, Victoria and Paraguay.  His life was spent almost entirely within Australian working class movements.  He was not usually a first-rank leader but was always at the forefront of efforts to protect and improve the rights of the working class.

The nature of Dias’ life means that some episodes were much more comprehensively chronicled than others, and he apparently left no personal papers, resulting in a biography that is uneven and incomplete.

 Early life

Those of the once thriving Jewish community of Spain (Sephardim) who refused to be converted to Catholicism were expelled in 1492. Most went to other Mediterranean countries but a small proportion went to Portugal and subsequently to northern Europe, mainly the Netherlands.  This community was invited in the 1650s by Oliver Cromwell to settle in England.  Many subsequently pursued careers in the British West Indian colonies during their prosperous years of the 18th century. Among these were the Dias family, one of whom was reputed to be the first person in Jamaica to free slaves.  The family is still commemorated by the name of the village of Dias in western Jamaica.[1]  With the decline of the economies of the Caribbean colonies in the early nineteenth century the family returned to England.

Mark Gomes Dias was born in London on 26 February 1829, son of Johannen de Haim Daniel Dias and Rachael de Napthali nee Paz (married 1822 in Bevis Marks Synagogue, West London, the centre of the British Sephardi community).[2] Around 1852, doubtless attracted by the gold rushes, Mark Dias sailed for Geelong in the new thriving colony of Victoria.

The Lewis and Barnett families were probably also Sephardic. Lewis Lewis, born in 1783 in Rochester, Kent, England married Louisa Barnett (born 1800 the daughter of Joel Barnett and Sarah nee Moss) in 1822. Lewis Lewis was an ironmonger.[3]

Lewis and Louisa Lewis were also apparently attracted by Victoria’s gold rush prosperity. In 1857, when Lewis Lewis was 74 years of age, he sailed for Victoria to start a new life with his wife, daughter Caroline and others of their eleven children. They settled in Bendigo (then called Sandhurst) on the goldfields.[4]

Mark Gomes Dias travelled to Bendigo to marry Caroline Lewis on 1 August 1860.  The ceremony was performed in Caroline’s parents’ home in Bull Street in the centre of the town by the Rev Isaac Friedman of the Sandhurst Hebrew Congregation.[5]

The couple returned to Melbourne.  On 11 May 1861 their first child, John Naphthali Dias was born at their residence where Mark Dias was publican, the Australian Arms Hotel, 176 Little Bourke Street East (south side between Spring Street and Stephen now Exhibition Street) in the city.[6]

John’s peripatetic life began.  The family often moved as his father sought a living. By the time John was two, they had moved to Richmond, an eastern suburb, where his father was briefly publican of the Bridge Hotel (which still exists) and where his brother Lewis was born.[7]  By the next year, the family was either still in Richmond or in Fitzroy, another Melbourne suburb, where it is recorded that Mark Dias was a jeweller and the next son Edward was born.[8]

By the time he was seven the family had sailed across the Tasman responding to the lure of the new goldfields on the West Coast of the South Island of New Zealand. Many thousands of people left Victoria in the late 1860s for this gold boom,[9] so much so that the period is referred to as the ‘Australian invasion’.  The Australian diggers arrived at the new port of Hokitika near the goldfields. Mark Dias was a hairdresser and tobacconist in the new mining town of Stafford.[10]  Today almost nothing remains of Stafford.  In Stafford John’s siblings Samuel[11] and Annie[12] were born. In later life Samuel moved to the United States,[13] Annie reappears later in this narrative.  By the time he was thirteen in 1874 the family had returned to Victoria and settled in Sandhurst (Bendigo), where his Lewis grandparents lived and where Mark Dias was a merchant.  Two more sisters, Julia[14] and Frances,[15] followed.

Ironically in 1882 just a few years after the Dias family returned to Victoria, his mother’s brother, Joel Barnett Lewis moved to Hokitika, just a few miles from Stafford.  It is a matter of speculation whether his move to Hokitika was influenced by his sister’s experience in the area.  He spent the rest of his life there practising as a lawyer[16] until his death in 1909.[17]

In 1881 the Lewis’ 60th wedding anniversary was celebrated with a ball.[18] A contemporary illustration shows a large number of attendees in a display of the finest of Colonial respectability. Lewis Lewis was a stalwart of the Sandhurst Hebrew Congregation, being on the Committee, the Building Committee and a trustee.[19]  Louisa Lewis died in 1884,[20] Lewis Lewis in 1889, aged 105,[21] partially as a result of an accident.[22] Mark Dias died in 1900[23] and Caroline Dias in 1923.[24]

The egalitarian ethos of the gold mining towns he was brought up in probably had a continuing influence on Dias, as may have the formation and activities of a militant mining union in Sandhurst in the 1870s.[25]

John Dias left home and sought a living in Melbourne, then Sydney,[26] then North Queensland.

The Shearers’ Union and the Shearers’ Dispute of 1891

In North Queensland he was a shearer.  Shearers moving from job to job were very much in the power of the pastoralists.  They endured harsh conditions.  Some shearers, seeking to improve their lot and have some combined strength, founded the Queensland Shearers’ Union.  In 1886 John Dias was among the founders.  In 1906 he recalled how twenty years earlier ‘doing the work of organising he had had to swim rivers and go hungry very often’.[27]

The pastoralists were determined to break the power of the shearers and to reduce their wages and conditions.  At the start of the 1891 season they presented their log of conditions.  It included the reduction of wages by 15 to 33 per cent, disregarding of the eight hour day principle, and the right to retain a man’s wage until the end of the season when it could be forfeited if he was deemed to have breached the new rules.  The unionists refused to accept the pastoralists’ claims.[28]  The Queensland Government assisted the pastoralists in their campaign.

The shearers, unable to lodge as usual on the pastoral properties, set up camps.  John Dias was leader of the Hughenden camp,[29] the largest in the north, with a population of around 700 in May 1891.[30]  The strikers at the Hughenden camp were reckoned to be well behaved compared to those elsewhere.[31]

The pastoralists and government recruited non-union labour.  The government facilitated their ship and railway travel and sent detachments of police and military as protection.  The government’s campaign was in the hands of Horace Tozer, the Colonial Secretary.  Tozer issued orders for the arrest of union leaders, including John Dias.[32]

On 26 March 1891, 121 officers and men of the Townsville Mounted Infantry arrived at Hughenden to protect non-union labourers, who were being recruited in Townsville – about 60 in late March and early April.  After an unsuccessful effort to get through the mud to properties, the group returned to Hughenden railway station.  On 23 April John Dias visited the station to try his powers of persuasion on the strikebreakers.  He was ejected from the woolshed by a constable, apparently unaware that Tozer had ordered his arrest.[33]

Dias was eventually arrested on a charge of having used threats against a publican at Hughenden.  He was reportedly chained to a log because of the lack of a watch house.  He was acquitted of the charge.[34]

Following the failure of the shearers’ strike, the Shearers’ Union and the large Australian Workers’ Union amalgamated.  Dias was said to have aided this process.  Following amalgamation, he became President of the Northern Branch of the Union, with 4,000 members.[35]

Much of the inspiration for the shearers came from William Lane, the charismatic editor of the Brisbane Worker.  Lane inspired a very devoted following among many workers.  Lane was much influenced by contemporary theories of the virtues of establishing utopian settlements where mankind could start afresh to create an ideal society.[36]

This idea found ready acceptance among much of the Australian working class in the 1890s.  Australia they saw was not going to be a workingmen’s paradise.  This was especially so with the bitter defeat of the Maritime dispute of 1890 followed by another bitter defeat in the Shearers’ dispute of 1891 and the severe 1890s depression.  In fact, even while the Shearers’ dispute was unresolved, there was talk of starting anew in Argentina.[37]

Broken Hill 1890s

Following the defeat of the shearers, John Dias left this employment.  He went to Broken Hill, NSW, then at the start of its silver/lead/zinc mining boom.[38]

Like many other workers, especially ex-shearers, he was probably only waiting while Lane’s utopian settlement was organised.  He was in Broken Hill at the time of the 1892 dispute when the Amalgamated Miners’ Association resisted an attempt by the mining companies to introduce payment by contract, resulting in an eighteen weeks strike.[39]  He may have become involved in this. [40]

It is not known when John Dias arrived and left Broken Hill.  He may have shared his life there with his eldest brother Lewis Dias, twenty months his junior.

Lewis was a mineworker.  On 27 February 1895 – when John Dias was in Paraguay – Lewis Dias was killed while working for Baxter and Saddler, contractors at Broken Hill Proprietary’s open cut mine.  He had only been working at the mine for eight days.  He was working at the bottom of an incline up which, along rail lines the ore was hauled in trucks to the top of the cliff. An empty truck became detached and ran away at “terrible speed”.  The truck had not been adequately chocked.  It ran down the incline and struck him on the hand and fractured his skull.  A fellow worker was indicted on a charge of manslaughter.  However, at the trial a month later, following presentation of the case by the Crown, the Judge discharged the accused.[41]  He exercised a discretion under the Criminal Law Amendment Act, that if the punishment would only be nominal, the jury could be discharged and the defendant acquitted.[42]

John Dias apparently worked as a carpenter (he was so described on the manifest of passengers sailing to Paraguay).[43]


Lane’s utopian venture in Paraguay was one of the strangest episodes in Australian history.

Paraguay, after a long period of dictatorship, provoked a war which ran from 1865 to 1870 against its giant neighbours Brazil and Argentina as well as Uruguay.  The inevitable result was devastation.  Two-thirds of its population and 90% of its males were killed.  The Paraguayan government was therefore very eager to encourage settlement.  They readily granted Lane’s New Australia Co-operative a large block of land.[44]

The venture was the first significant emigration from Australia.  It attracted derision from many.  The Bulletin magazine, then at its height of nationalistic influence, for instance, constantly ridiculed the venture.[45]  Many in the working class saw the project as a cop-out from fighting for better conditions in Australia.

The Co-operative bought a ship, the Royal Tar, to transport what it was sure would be many shiploads of members to the new paradise.  Eager members of the Co-operative gathered in Sydney from around Australia.  The New South Welsh government used every minor aspect of the maritime regulations to delay the first voyage.[46]  While waiting, members were accommodated in cottages in Balmain.[47]  At last on 16 July 1893, the Royal Tar departed.  Among the first group of adventurers was John Dias.  The voyage was turbulent and slow across the Tasman, but then, despite it being winter, the voyage around Cape Horn went smoothly.[48]

In early September the party transferred in Montevideo, Uruguay, to a smaller boat for the trip up the Parana River to the centre of South America, transferring again to an even smaller boat to complete the trip.  On 22 September the party arrived in the Paraguayan capital of Ascuncion.  They continued by train to Villarrica, nearest station to New Australia – the block of land granted by the Paraguayan government.[49]

William Lane provided the inspiration for the settlers.  William Lane was also an autocrat.  Tensions engendered at least in part by his leadership style had already become apparent during the voyage of the Royal Tar.[50]  In Paraguay the tensions became even greater.  Within six months of the foundation of New Australia William Lane decided that he could no longer work with those he deemed disloyal.  In May 1894, therefore, Lane and 63 of his most loyal followers – including Dias – left New Australia.[51]

The Paraguayan government was still prepared to be generous.  They granted the breakaway group a new block of land in southern Paraguay.  The Lane group established a settlement called Cosme and started again the backbreaking tasks of clearing the bush, and establishing cultivation and homes.

The philosophy of the settlement combined an aim of an idealistic communistic society, ie everyone on the basis of equality, with rigid emphasis on the superiority of ‘English Speaking Whites’.  In addition, the importance of ‘Life Marriage’ and teetotalism were emphasised.[52] Even if we attempt to view this through the prism of the 1890s, rather than our own age, we cannot help regarding it as a strange mixture of radicalism and conservatism.  It was, however, in accord with the prevailing views of Australian working-class movements of the period.  The problem with the emphasis on a communistic ideal was that it didn’t work in practice.  The emphasis on a rigid colour line and marriage within it was also unattainable, as there were almost no single women in the group.

John Dias never married.  One reason may have been that he spent this crucial period in the idealistic settlements in Paraguay.  The absence of eligible young females, combined with the discouragement of fraternisation with female Paraguayans, dashed the prospects of most single young men in the settlements.

Another consequence of the Paraguayan venture was rheumatic fever.  This affected him severely later in life.[53]

John Dias was a provider of entertainment at Cosme.  He gave a lecture with illustrations on the work of the poet Adam Lindsay Gordon,[54] he was Mr Interlocutor in a Minstrel show,[55] and he described an eighteen day walking tour he made to some Jesuit ruins near the southeastern town of Encarnacion – a round-trip of about 300 kilometres.  He described to Cosme’s Literary and Social Union how he had been profoundly moved by the sight of great roofless cathedrals being reclaimed by the jungle, and the artistry of toppled and broken sculptures.[56]  He was Cosme’s dancing instructor[57] (presumably bush dancing), and as a result every social gathering ended with a dance, he was Master of Ceremonies at dances,[58] and taught eight Cosme girls the Maypole Dance for the 1896 Christmas festivities.[59]

Disillusionment became increasingly the case at Cosme (and New Australia).[60]  In August 1897 Dias took a year’s leave of absence to attend to ‘pressing business in Australia’.  He may or may not have intended to return, but after eighteen months sent back a letter of resignation.[61]  It is not known what this ‘pressing business’ was.  Perhaps it was a delayed reaction to Lewis Dias’ death, perhaps his father was ill, perhaps it was his brother Edward’s wedding, or probably it was just an excuse.

It is also not known how Dias returned to Australia.  He may have taken the same route as other returnees: down the river to Buenos Aires, ship to Britain, then ship to Australia.  Nor is it known if Dias had to spend time in Buenos Aires working to raise money for the fare home as others did.  One source indicates he did a good deal of shearing in different parts of South America.[62]


After his return to Australia Dias made his home in Kalgoorlie, the centre of WA’s Eastern Goldfields – then at the height of its expansion.[63]  His brother Edward is known to have settled in Kalgoorlie by September 1897 when he married there.[64]  The Goldfields of Western Australia were overwhelmingly populated by fortune seekers from the Eastern colonies, and were overwhelmingly male.  Edward Dias would have been among the few to find a partner there.

John and Edward Dias jointly held a mining lease at Kalgoorlie,[65] but this does not necessarily mean they mined it.  They both lived in Kalgoorlie.  Edward was a boilermaker [66]and John a carpenter.[67]

Dias’ interest and involvement in union affairs may have been sharpened by the meeting of the inaugural Western Australian Trades’ Union and Labour Congress in Coolgardie in April 1899[68] and the third Congress in Kalgoorlie in August 1901.[69]

The Kalgoorlie Branch of the carpenters’ union, the Amalgamated Society of Carpenters and Joiners was founded on 3 August 1897.[70]  Dias joined this Branch and was elected President of it on 10 January 1910 and re-elected at approximately three-monthly intervals on 18 April 1902, 19 September 1902, December 1902, 5 March 1903 and 12 June 1903.[71]

Dias was also a delegate representing the Kalgoorlie Branch of the Amalgamated Society of Carpenters and Joiners to the fourth annual Western Australian Trades’ Union and Labour Congress in Fremantle from 1 to 9 September 1902.[72]

Dias seconded a motion at the Congress for an inquiry into the actions of George Taylor, a Goldfields MLA (and former fellow Queensland shearer)[73] accused of breaching caucus solidarity by not supporting the Leake state government.  He said he had no personal animosity to Mr Taylor but he was a little rash and headstrong at times.[74]  After devoting a day to discussion of the case, Taylor was exonerated.[75] (Taylor was, however, to prove a thorn within the labour movement in later years.)[76]

The Congress would have been important not only for formal business, but for social opportunities – Dias taking the opportunity of attending a meeting of the Perth Branch of the Amalgamated Society of Carpenters and Joiners.[77]  Dias, however, reported to his own Union that “very little had been accomplished”.[78]

In 1902-03 a Political Labor Party was organised in WA including on the Goldfields, with representation from unions including the Carpenters.[79]

Dias was an active member of the Goldfields Trades and Labor Council, on which he was the delegate of the Amalgamated Society of Carpenters and Joiners.[80]  Around September 1902 he was nominated as Vice-President, but declined in favour of another candidate.[81]  Nevertheless, at some point in the following months he was elected Vice-President of the Council[82] and on 23 March 1903 he was re-elected as Vice-President.[83]  On 21 September 1903 he was elected unopposed as President.[84]  But at the Council meetings of 4 and 18 April 1904 Dias tendered his resignation as President although he stated that he ‘would [remain in] office until a new one was appointed’ and ‘until the Audit of the half yearly accounts of the Council was placed before the meeting’.[85]  There is no explanation in the minutes of the Council of why he stood down as President after only seven months.  He did however remain a member of the Goldfields Trades and Labor Council.[86]

One source states that Dias was, in fact, twice President of the Goldfields Trades and Labor Council.[87]  At some point in his career, Dias was apparently President of the Goldfields Eight Hours Committee.[88]

In December 1902 Dias was appointed as the Council’s representative on the Esperance League, which was endeavouring to convince the State government to build a Kalgoorlie-Esperance railway. [89]

In February 1903 he was one of the Council delegates meeting unemployed representatives to devise a scheme to submit to the government.[90]

Dias took an interest in labour newspaper publishing.  At the Trades and Labor Council meeting of November 1902 he successfully moved a motion that unions contribute one shilling per capita of membership for up-to-date machinery for the Westralian Worker, then published in Kalgoorlie.[91]  In March 1903 his motion was approved that ‘while we are not antagonistic to the Worker as a paper we strongly condemn the present policy of the editor’.[92]  Also in March 1903 Dias was appointed to a committee to investigate differences that existed between W.D. Johnson, a Labor MLA, and the editor of the WestralianWorker.[93]  The committee, while exonerating Mr Johnson, did find blame on both sides.[94]  In October 1903 he ‘reported he had attended the meeting convened for the purpose of considering the possibility of bringing out a paper in the interests of the Labor Candidates … and stated he believed it was a proposition that was deserving of serious attention’.[95]  Accordingly, during the campaign for the December 1903 Federal election a newspaper in support of Labor called the WAClarion was published from the offices of the Westralian Worker in Kalgoorlie.  Dias was on the executive of the WA Clarion.[96]  Its supporters claimed the WA Clarion ‘went off like hot cakes’.[97]

At its meeting of 13 June 1904 the Goldfields Trades and Labor Council appointed Dias to a committee to gather evidence in connection with ‘the Alien question’ – foreign labour on the minefields being a major issue, in connection with a current WA Royal Commission on Immigration.[98]

At the same meeting Dias presented to the Council ‘a scheme with the intention of organising the Council with political matters until the Elections are over’.[99]  At a meeting the following month other delegates ‘considered it direct against the personal [sic] of the Council’.  Debate on the scheme was adjourned indefinitely.[100]

On 12 December 1904 Dias successfully moved at the Trades and Labor council a motion critical of the Daglish Labor state Government ‘for violating the vital plank of the Labor Platform [for] non-alienation of Crown lands’.[101]

At its meeting of 9 January 1905 the Trades and Labor Council received a letter from the Amalgamated Society of Carpenters and Joiners asking for the dates on which Dias had not attended Council meetings.[102]  This suggests some discord.

In December 1905 Dias was still President of the Kalgoorlie Branch of the Amalgamated Society of Carpenters and Joiners – or at least he presumably was, as he responded to the toast to the Society at the annual social.  He spoke about the benefits the Society provided for its members.[103]

Other than political activity, Dias was also active socially.  He was apparently President of the Brown Hill Institute.  This organized dances, and had a library.[104]  He was also Secretary of the Brown Hill Quadrille Assembly.[105]

An attempt at Parliament

Dias was President of the Eastern Goldfields Political Labor Council,[106] but it is not known when.

On 1 and 15 February 1906 the Eastern Goldfields Political Labor Council selected John Dias as its candidate for the North East Province in the Legislative Council.[107]

Labor, as an organised group, had not hitherto contested Legislative Council vacancies.  The Legislative Council in WA, as in all other Australian states at the time, was modelled on the British House of Lords as a conservative check on the democratic lower Houses.  A restricted franchise applied.  Electors had to have a freehold property of at least £100 ($200), or be a householder in a dwelling of annual value of £25 ($50), or have a leasehold of £25 ($50) annual value, or have a Crown lease worth £10 ($20) per annum.[108]

As part of its campaign, Labor enrolled on the Electoral Roll a number of residents.  Upon the petition of Labor’s opponents, the Revision Court (which had jurisdiction in electoral matters) on 6 April considered a challenge to 362 persons enrolled in the Kalgoorlie mining suburb of Brown Hill (Dias’ home area).[109]  It struck 361 of them off the Roll,[110] causing indignation in the local Labor movement.[111]  An appeal to the Supreme Court was dismissed.[112]

Dias’ opponent was Thomas Brimage.  Brimage was a member of the Legislative Council for South Province, an engineer[113] and sharebroker.[114]  He transferred following redistribution as ‘all he possessed in the world was in the North East Province’ and ‘his interests centred in this

Dias made his opening speech in Kalgoorlie on 19 April 1906 to a ‘moderately numerous audience’.[116]  He said the people of the State must not allow the Legislative Council to remain a stumbling block in the path of reform.  It must be swept away.  With that object in view the Labor Party would strongly fight for the reform of the house with a view to its ultimate abolition.  He asked the electors, if they wished to abolish it, they could do no better than send in men who were pledged to reform it, with a view to its abolition.[117]

Dias[118] and Brimage[119] both set off on speaking tours of the mining towns to the north of Kalgoorlie.  Dias spoke in Leonora, Gwalia, Kookynie, Kanowna, Menzies and Davyhurst.  He was accompanied by Charles Frazer, Federal Labor MP for Kalgoorlie, who spoke in support of him at meetings.  The Secretary of the Trades and Labor Council was advised that Dias had ‘been addressing large audiences throughout the northern districts with much success’.[120]

A speech at Kookynie was representative of many of Dias’ appeals during the campaign.  He emphasised his ability to represent all classes in the Council and said his past record was such as to warrant the confidence of the electors.  He claimed the Legislative Council ‘was supposed to be a house of review, to debar hasty legislation, but as far as [he] could discern it was simply supporting the present Government’.  He claimed that Brimage was favoured by the Minister for Mines.  He sought a review of the Arbitration Act.[121]  At Menzies, Dias said that ‘whether successful or not, the effort put forth to win the seat for democracy would produce much good, and render the electors good service by awakening them from their apathy, in addition to extracting concessions from the most iron-bound Conservatives’.[122]

In his speeches, Brimage referred to his own attempt to have the franchise requirement lowered.  He noted the benefits he had obtained for the district, especially mining and obtaining railways and tramways in Kalgoorlie and water supply for the Goldfields.  He defended the Legislative Council and referred to Dias’ involvement in the failed Paraguayan scheme.[123]

Brimage’s campaign seems to have been both better financed and organised.  During the campaign thirteen advertisements for Brimage appeared in the Kalgoorlie Miner,[124] the district’s daily paper, compared to only two for Dias,[125] and in the Sunday newspaper, the Sun, there were four Brimage advertisements[126] and none for Dias.  Even Dias’ Labor colleague standing in the adjoining Southern Province election exceeded him in the number of advertisements.  On election day, the KalgoorlieMiner reported that

 “…the streets of Kalgoorlie … presented the appearance of a lively …  contest in the matter of conveyances.  The red and white colours of Mr Brimage predominated.  Only a few vehicles were employed on behalf of Mr Dias, whose staff of assistants was also small when compared to the small army of canvassers and other workers who sought to advance the fortunes of Mr Brimage.”[127]

In Menzies the NorthCoolgardie Herald noted that election day ‘was the quietest one yet experienced … The general opinion being that Mr Brimage’s return was a foregone conclusion.  The Labor Parties did not even exert themselves to the extent of providing vehicles for the conveyance of voters to the polling booth’.[128]

On the day before the election the Sun ran a flippant editorial referring to “A choice of evils”.  Dias, it said, was the lesser evil “in that he has no Parliamentary record to rise up in judgement against him.”  It said:

 “It is impossible to take Brimage seriously: he is just a joke, a butt, a peg to hang humorous anecdotes on.  He has sat six years in Parliament, and the only reputation he has won in that period is that of being able to sleep harder, snore louder, and eat more pudding at a sitting than any other two Councillors.”[129]

On election morning the Kalgoorlie Miner ran an editorial pointing to the differences between a man [Brimage] who ‘can fearlessly speak and vote according to his political principles, and in what he deems the best interests of his constituents and the State generally; the other [Dias] can do so only so far as caucus will allow him’.  The Miner also opined that ‘we do not think that the time for doing away with the Legislative Council has yet come, or is even within measurable distance’.[130]  Naturally the Westralian Worker editorialised in support of a vote for Labor candidates including Dias.[131]

The NorthCoolgardie Herald which circulated in the mining towns north of Kalgoorlie, particularly Menzies, wrote that Brimage ‘is well and popularly known throughout almost every centre of the eastern and northern goldfields’ whereas Dias ‘was practically unknown before his selection, and since commencing his political campaign has not succeeded in making anything like favorable impression as to his capabilities to represent a goldfields constituency – or any other for that matter’.  It said ‘Mr Dias certainly had one commendable plank in his platform, viz, a tax on unimproved land values’ but

 “…the platform expounded by Mr Dias was without any suggestion of a mining policy or any proposal to assist in furthering the interests of the mining industry in any way.  Mr Brimage is a man who has shown his ability as a legislator, and having the interests of the goldfields at heart, is worthy of the confidence of the electors.”[132]

The result of the election on Monday, 14 May 1906 was Brimage 1,396 votes (66%), Dias 719 votes (34 %).[133] Dias came first only in his own Brown Hill division of the electorate.[134]

Dias’ poor result can probably be attributed to various factors:

  • the incongruity of a candidate proposing he be elected to a House he was pledged to abolish,
  • Labor not yet having established a presence in Legislative Council elections,
  • the Labor Party’s fortunes were low: the Daglish government, the first Labor administration in WA, had recently been defeated on the floor of the Parliament after an undistinguished term and stained relations with the union movement,
  • the restricted franchise
  • the loss of 361 potential voters struck off the roll,
  • the probability that this decision deterred enrolling other working class voters,
  • Brimage’s superior organisation and financing,
  • the generally unfavourable views of the local newspapers,
  • the tendency of miners to see themselves as individual entrepreneurs, and
  • voting on a Monday (albeit until 7 pm) possibly deterring some workers from voting.

A property qualification for voting for the WA Legislative Council remained until 1964[135] and the Labor Party has never had a majority in it.

Dias never attempted to enter Parliament again.  Brimage moved gradually leftward.  At the following Legislative Council election in May 1912 Brimage stood in the East Province (around the Northam area) as a Labor Party candidate in support of the incumbent Scadden Labor government.  Against two well-known local identities and in a predominantly farming area, he was defeated.[136]

 Return to Broken Hill

After his attempt at the WA Parliament, Dias left Kalgoorlie in early 1907 for Ravensthorpe on the WA southern coast, thence Albany where he entered hospital for an operation to remove a cancerous growth on his lip.  He then proceeded to Melbourne, and considered traveling to Queensland or the Northern Territory for work,[137] but instead returned to Broken Hill[138] – similar to Kalgoorlie, an isolated mining town surrounded by semi-desert.  He was followed from Kalgoorlie to Broken Hill by his brother Edward, and sister-in-law.[139]

In Broken Hill, Dias seemed to have been very active.  He was a member of the Trades Hall Trust and Secretary of the Library Committee of the Broken Hill Democratic Club.[140]  These institutions are still active in Broken Hill.

In 1908 Broken Hill Proprietary attempted to reduce the wages of its workers by 13%, citing low prices for lead and zinc.  A bitter lock-out/strike ensued.  The dispute was considered in the Court of Conciliation and Arbitration by Mr Justice Higgins.[141]  He heard evidence in Broken Hill, Port Pirie and Melbourne about both the economics of the mining industry and the high cost of living in Broken Hill.  Dias was said to have assisted the union case, Mr Justice Higgins commenting that he had met a lay advocate worthy of professional steel.[142]

Melbourne and the Amalgamated Society of Carpenters and Joiners

Dias then moved to Melbourne.  He resumed or continued his trade of carpenter.

The Amalgamated Society of Carpenters and Joiners (ASC&J) was a traditional craft union, ie one representing skilled tradesmen.  It was founded in England in 1860.[143]  A Branch was founded in Melbourne around 1879.[144]  It had branches throughout Britain and Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Canada and the United States.

In Victoria at this time, a system of Wages Boards operated.  The appropriate Board in each trade set minimum wages and conditions.  On 29 December 1909, Dias and four colleagues from the ASC&J were appointed as representatives of employees on the Carpenters’ Wages Board.[145]  He was re-elected as an employees’ representative to the Carpenters’ Board on 30 September 1913.[146]  He resigned with effect from 12 April 1916[147] when he travelled to Britain (see below).  Dias was the ASC&J’s country delegate on the State’s Wages Board.[148]  It is interesting that of all of the trades covered by Wages Boards in Victoria at this time, Carpenters were the best paid, with the exception of Slaters and Tilers.[149]

Dias joined the Melbourne 1st Branch, the biggest in Victoria, and often the biggest in Australia.[150]  Here he was involved in some sort of conflict, the circumstances and reasons now being unclear.  In late December 1910, two events occurred within the Victorian Branch of the ASC&J.  There was an election for the Management Committee for 1910/11.  Dias was one of 13 candidates and was unsuccessful.  1040 votes were cast State-wide.  Of these 540 were from the Melbourne 1st Branch, by far the biggest branch in Victoria and Dias’ Branch.  All of this Branch’s 540 votes were not included in the result, but declared illegal “owing to acts of Secretary in conducting ballot”.[151]  At the same time, a vote of confidence was called in the Victorian Management Committee.  The Committee retained the confidence of Victorian members by 178 votes to 133.  All Branches voted in favour of the Committee, except the Melbourne 1st Branch.  Of the 133 negative votes, 106 came from this Branch.[152]

By 1912 Dias had become President of the Victorian State Management Committee of the Society.  In 1914 he became Secretary of the Victorian Branch,[153] which appears to have been a paid full-time position.  From about January 1918 until about April 1923, he was Melbourne District representative on the Management Committee.[154]

 Melbourne Trades Hall Council[155]

Dias was an active member of the Melbourne Trades Hall Council.  He was one of three delegates of the Amalgamated Society of Carpenters and Joiners from 21 September 1911.  He was soon also active on Council Committees, being elected to the Building Committee at the regular six-monthly election on 26 October 1911, (he was also nominated for the Executive Committee but withdrew) and was re-elected on 13 June 1912.  He did not however stand for the Building Committee at the next election in December 1912.  At the meeting of 19 June 1913 he was elected to the Workmen’s Compensation Act Committee and soon after on 14 August 1913 as a Council representative to an Educational Conference with the University Extension Committee.  On 4 September 1913 he was defeated as a Melbourne Trades Hall Council representative to the forthcoming interstate conference.

He was not a Carpenters’ delegate between 11 February and 29 April 1915.  A longer break in his membership was from 10 February 1916 to 5 July 1917.  This was during his trip to Britain and New Zealand mentioned below.  His membership then resumed until 31 July 1919.  During this period he declined various nominations to committees.

In June 1918 the Trades Hall Council decided that the red flag would fly over the building every day as an international symbol of the labour movement.  The decision provoked indignation among some elements of the community (including some unions).  The State government was urged to examine the lease the Trades Hall had been granted for the building.  In September 1918 the Federal government banned flying of the red flag under the War Precautions Act – a decision it would not have had the power to make in peacetime.  The Trades Hall in its turn now feigned indignation.  At the regular weekly meeting of the Trades Hall Council of 28 November 1918, Dias and Tunaley of the Carpenters obtained suspension of standing orders to move a motion that one flagpole of the Trades Hall Building would be designated the red flagpole and would remain vacant as a protest until the flag was permitted to be flown from it.  After long debate and opposition from moderate elements, the motion was amended, with the consent of the mover and seconder, that no flag would be flown from the building until the red flag was permitted.[156]

The Melbourne Trades Hall Council generally met weekly adding to Dias’ busy schedule.  In this period, almost all unions had their Melbourne offices in the Trades Hall building, adding to a sense of union solidarity.  Indeed, most of Dias’ life would have centred on the Trades Hall building – the offices of the Amalgamated Society of Carpenters and Joiners, the Trades Hall Council meetings and Labor conferences.  He lived within a few yards of the Trades Hall building – in probably rented premises in Rathdowne Street and later even closer in Drummond Street.[157]

Labor Party

Dias was a delegate of the Amalgamated Society of Carpenters and Joiners to the annual conferences in Melbourne of the Victorian Political Labor Council (later Australian Labor Party) at Easter 1912,[158] 1914,[159] 1915,[160] 1918,[161] 1919[162] and 1921.[163] At Easter 1916 he was on his way to the UK and in 1917 he would probably only just have returned.  It is not known if he represented the Society at the 1920 and 1922 Conferences.  He was ill at the time of the 1923 Conference.  At the 1915 Conference he was elected to the Political Labor Council Committee and spoke in support of motions “That destitute allowances become a plank in the State platform” and “That a commission of inquiry be appointed to inquire whether the policy of Preference to Unionists is being properly administered in the various Federal Departments”.  He noted that Preference to Unionists was not being granted by the Home Affairs Department.  At the 1919 Conference he chaired a committee examining social security measures.  As a result the Labor Party added to its platform a very important plank of lasting importance:

 “That an adequate standard of subsistence be provided for invalidity, maternity, sickness, unemployment and old age, as well as a system of widows’ and children’s pensions.”[164]

His argument did not prevail, however, in a debate about the level of exemption from Federal Land Tax where Dias opposed any level of exemption.  The Conference agreed on seeking a £3000 exemption.[165]

 A trip to Britain and Union amalgamation

The Amalgamated Society of Carpenters and Joiners was not the only craft union in Australia for carpenters.  The Australian Society of Progressive Carpenters and Joiners attempted to cover the same tradesmen.  Amalgamation was seen as desirable.  The point of difference between the two Societies was that the Progressive Society would not accept the link with the Amalgamated Society’s parent body in Britain.  Autonomy from the UK – which was desirable in itself – therefore was a necessary precondition to the merger of the two Societies.

In 1916 John Dias was selected by the Amalgamated Society to attend the Grand Council of the Society at its headquarters in Manchester, England to argue the case for autonomy for the branches in Australia and New Zealand.  The Grand Council met only at intervals of six years,[166] thus his dangerous sea travel in the middle of the Great War.  At a farewell function he was presented with a ‘handsome traveling bag’[167] and on 16 March sailed from Sydney on the Makura for Vancouver.[168]  He was expected to be away about five months[169] but this was extended by time in New Zealand on his return journey.

In a letter of 14 August 1916 written in Manchester to his colleague Tom Tunaley of the Victorian State Committee Dias described the results of the trip.[170] It was a trial for Dias:

 “I had an attack of rheumatic fever before getting to Honolulu and was some weeks in the Vancouver hospital.  However, I kept in communication with the G.C. [Grand Council] and was successful in getting all matters relating to Australia and New Zealand held over until I could attend.  I am sure we would have got a Slatherum whack go[171] if I had not been there in person, so you may imagine how I worried over my illness.  I left the hospital before I could walk and got to the train in a taxi with the assistance of two nurses who looked after my luggage.  I was five days on the train and got a terrible shaking up before I reached Montreal.  However, I picked up considerably on the boat and was able to put up a good fight.”

 Dias reported that the Grand Council meeting went well:

“I think we may well congratulate ourselves that we have been so successful.  We have got practically all we asked for … I found when I got there, that outside of Canada and U.S. that all the delegates were hostile to our proposals.  I had a chance of outlining the scheme in returning thanks for their vote of welcome to me and that night made a convert of Bro. [Brother] A. Gould who afterwards proved to be a tower of strength to us.  Next day I managed to get in a lot more on the discussion relating to the existing state of affairs in New Zealand.  I was a good deal hampered and met with considerable hostility owing to the fact that New Zealand E.B.  [Executive Board] had applied for £1,000 and there having been no returns received from there for over 2 years.  I have been deputed by the Council to further report on the financial position in N.Z.  I staved off every vote that was taken until I was assured of a majority and finally won over Chandler [the General Secretary,[172] and the Chairman, Bro. Barnes, after which it was comparatively plain sailing, and towards the end we only had two opponents.”

The result was acceptance of the proposals with only “very slight alterations”.[173]  Complete autonomy for the Australian and New Zealand sections of the Amalgamated Society was agreed including control of at least £15,000 in funds.[174]  In February 1917 Dias formally reported to the Australian Federal Executive Board of the Amalgamated Society on the result of his attendance at the Manchester conference.  The Board noted that the task had not been an easy one but had been successful almost beyond expectations.  They publicly expressed their appreciation in the Union’s Journal.[175]

The autonomy proposal was overwhelmingly endorsed by the Australian members of the Amalgamated Society by a vote of 1,431 to 91.[176]

The Amalgamated Society of Carpenters and Joiners then proceeded with negotiations with the Australian Society of Progressive Carpenters and Joiners about a merger of the Societies.  As so often happens, the best intentions led to personal acrimony.  This may also have been the result of tension often present between parts of a federal organisation.  Dias certainly felt he was now being excluded from the process.  He complained in the Union Journal that the [federal] Executive Board’s proposed agreement was a “distinct repudiation” of the principles under which autonomy had been negotiated and voiced an ‘emphatic protest’ against it.  He believed that “they have not only been extremely ill advised in the whole of their dealings in this matter, but have altogether exceeded their legitimate functions”.  In addition, he claimed the Executive Board had accorded him “very scant courtesy” throughout the negotiations.  He said that “notwithstanding the fact that I was present in Sydney when the Conference was held, and the Grand Council desired my presence, our members took objection to me being present without taking part and I was forced to leave the room”.  He said that “As I claim the credit to a considerable extent of forcing the issue of amalgamation to some finality, it is extremely regrettable to me that the [Executive Board] did not see fit to take a vote on this important question, on the broad principles of amalgamation”.[177]

Melbourne 1st Branch – Dias’ home Branch – expressed “its indignation” about the incident.  Richmond, Victoria, Branch called on the Executive Board to explain why Dias was shut out.[178]

The Executive Board replied that the matter was a Federal matter and entirely for the Executives of each Society to take action in.  They claimed that a telegram had been shown to Dias before he left Melbourne stating that the matter was for the Federal Executive only.  In a copy of the Union Journal, which had probably been Dias’ personal copy (and is now held at the Australian National University), a handwritten annotation appears twice next to this claim saying “LIAR”.[179]

Despite this bitterness, Dias “earnestly” appealed to members to vote for amalgamation.[180]

A Conference was elected by members of both Associations to frame rules for the united organisation.  Dias was elected Victorian and Tasmanian representative of the Amalgamated Society.  This Conference met in Sydney in March 1918.[181]

Members of both Societies voted to approve the merger.  In December 1920, Dias in his first report as Victorian Secretary after the merger said:

“Of course, the fact remains that we are not altogether a ‘happy family,’ but, as time goes on, there is little doubt that all sources of friction will be overcome, and we will cease to remember that we were ever different Unions of Carpenters and Joiners.”[182]

W.R. Edgar, formerly of the Society of Progressive Carpenters was now Victorian Branch Organiser of the Amalgamated Society of Carpenters and Joiners, while Dias was Victorian Secretary.  They remained opponents.  Some bitterness was played out publicly in the pages of the union’s Monthly Report, culminating in April 1921 with Edgar stating that he would resign his position and “nominate against him [Dias] as Secretary or Organiser and we will then see who has the confidence of members in Victoria”[183]..  Dias in next month’s issue ignored this.

The 1916 Manchester meeting had resolved “That Bro.  Dias, together with the senior member of the NZ Section … be appointed to investigate the N.Z. affairs”.[184]  Dias wrote of his investigation of the Association in New Zealand that he “was astonished to find the amazing drift that had occurred in the affairs of our Society”, “seething discontent”, “utter lack of unity of purpose” and “absolute impotence of the Executive Board, and the disregarding of the existing rules of the Society generally”.  He appealed to NZ members to “drop all personal bickerings, and bury the past in oblivion, and thereby enable us to start with the track cleared for the future”.[185] Dias and his colleague reported in December 1916.  He said that ‘We are the most important Union in the Dominion, financially and numerically, and we should wield a power industrially and politically in moulding conditions suitable to our future welfare’.  A conference of representatives from throughout NZ was arranged to harmonise conflicting interests and draft new rules.  A new award by the Arbitration Court was drafted and arrangements made for the election of a new National Council and Secretary.  The old Executive Board and Secretary resigned and Dias with four others was appointed to administer the affairs of the Society in NZ until a vote could be taken.[186]  This suggests he may have spent some time in NZ.  The Manchester meeting and associated mission to NZ resulted in autonomy for the NZ Branch of the Union.[187]

 Union business

The work as a Union Secretary was doubtless busy.  Meetings of Association committees occurred about weekly.  Concerns over members’ conditions occupied most of the time of Union Executive meetings.  The Secretary would often have attended to these matters relating to members’ working conditions, ranging from problems affecting individuals to disputes of a major nature, before consideration by the Executive.  Any dispute which reached the Arbitration Court required a great deal of time in preparing and presenting evidence.  Travel not only around Melbourne to building and other work sites, but throughout Victoria, was required, sometimes taking him away for a number of days – for example in May 1913 Dias reported on travel in the preceding weeks to Geelong, Ballarat, Castlemaine and Bendigo[188] and in July to Wonthaggi, Camperdown and Colac.[189]  Trips to Sydney also occurred for meetings with the Federal body of the Association.  There were also the many administrative functions and correspondence necessary in an organisation with a sizeable membership.

The Association provided a range of benefits to members, important in the age before comprehensive social security benefits and in an industry of stop and start work.  These included unemployment benefits for up to eighteen weeks, compensation for loss of tools, accident benefits, sickness benefits, superannuation and funeral benefits.[190]  Administration of these, too, would have been a time-consuming responsibility of the Secretary.

Union elections

In 1920 Dias was again elected Victorian Secretary with 367 first preference votes, compared with the combined total of 233 of his two opponents.[191]

In 1922 the Subiaco, WA Branch nominated Dias for Federal President of the Society.[192]  He contested the position against the incumbent, T. Martin of NSW, and seven other candidates.  In a tight contest, after the distribution of preferences, Dias beat Martin 1100 to 1050.  On first preferences, Dias had come first only in WA, but his coming second in all other States put him ahead at the final count.[193]

However, Dias never took up the position due to ill-health.  The Auburn, NSW, Branch even went so far as to resolve “That Bro. Dias of the Melbourne City Branch be censured and charged with the expenses of the new election of Federal President, seeing that he knew at the time of his nomination that his health would not permit him to take the office of Federal President”.[194]  In the subsequent re-election, Martin regained his position.[195]

The Amalgamated Society of Carpenters and Joiners joined with other unions in 1945-48 to form the Building Workers’ Industrial Union, which in 1992-93, as part of the then big union amalgamations, became part of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union.[196]  As part of the campaigns of the late 1940s-early 1950s against Communist influence in unions, a breakaway group revived for a time the title of Amalgamated Society of Carpenters and Joiners.[197]

 Ill-health and death

Ill-health now dogged Dias.  In 1922 he was granted four months leave of absence with pay on account of his bad health.  He subsequently thanked “Branches for their many resolutions of sympathy.  Also to the members for their manifestations of practical goodwill towards myself during my recent illness.  It is extremely gratifying to me to know that after the many years I have held this office [of Victorian Secretary], I still retain the respect and esteem of the membership”.[198]

Around March 1923 he was forced to resign as Victorian Secretary and was stated to have

 “…been in a precarious state of health for some years past, arising particularly out of the strenuous work that he has accomplished for the Society.  During the last twelve months [to November 1923] he has been practically confined to bed, and some eight months ago was forced to resign his position.  Since then he has been under the care of the doctor, and has suffered excruciating pain with the combination of ailments that he is afflicted with”.[199]

On 19 September 1923 Dias was admitted to the Victorian Benevolent Society’s nursing home in Cheltenham suffering from rheumatic gout.[200]  At this point, one writer in an union journal referred to Dias as “the ‘Grand Old Man’ of the Labor Movement”.[201]  His condition continued to deteriorate and after a heart attack he died on 13 August 1924.  The Death Certificate also attributes the death to rheumatoid arthritis.  Another source suggests Dias’ death was due to rheumatic fever which may have been a recurrence of a complaint he had acquired in Paraguay in the 1890s and which had laid him low during the voyage to Britain in 1916.[202]  He was buried at Brighton Cemetery, Melbourne by Rabbi Israel Brodie of the Melbourne Hebrew Congregation[203] (later Chief Rabbi of the British Empire)[204], the mourners including “many old friends and a representative gathering of Laborites”.[205]  His estate consisting of two bank accounts, two war bonds and money due from a court case passed to his sister Annie.  Strangely, the estate also included £100 owing to Dias from a legal action against a chicken merchant.  Why did a Secretary of a Carpenters’ Union sue a chicken merchant and get £100, a fair size sum? [206]

On 14 August the flag at the Trades Hall was flown at half-mast as a tribute to him.[207]  The Victorian Branch wrote to his brother Edward (now back in Melbourne and also a carpenter) extending to him:

 “and the other relatives of our late Brother John Dias our deepest sympathy in the loss that you have sustained by his passing.  In the opinion of our Society he was one of the strongest and finest characters that ever guided the destinies of the Amalgamated Society in this country.  It is indeed very hard to estimate the benefits that are being accrued to us from the wise guidance that he displayed in the years gone by.

 “From one end of Australia to another his name had become a household word with our Trade, and many are the expressions of regret that [have] reached us from far flung parts regarding his death.  For a long time past we have been quite cognisant of the fact that his end was approaching, and realising the terrible sufferings that he has undergone no true admirer of a brave man, would wish to prolong that agony but we desire to place on record, our admiration for him who has gone, who through long years of trouble and strife in our Movement, never deviated from the path of moral rectitude, and who has left behind him a reputation that you as his relatives must feel proud of.”[208]

 Two months later, Edward also died – of miners’ phthisis.[209]

In the Union’s Journal, Dias’ successor as Victorian Secretary wrote:

 “No pen can adequately portray the splendid work that he accomplished in this State on behalf of Carpenters and Joiners.  However, it is well known that in times of trouble the old stalwart worked the clock around, giving his health and what money he could afford, the whole of his enthusiasm and a wealth of knowledge to the improvement of the status of our trade.

 “The closing years of his life are the saddest to mention.  The strong frame, caught in the grip of an incurable complaint, it gradually sapped away his strength, leaving his mentality undiminished, his mind as bright as ever; he lacked the strength to move in bed.

 “Although it is hard to say, still it is true, that all of his friends who knew him and admired him did not wish to see a brave man tormented further.  Death came as a happy release.  The Society everywhere will be the poorer by his passing.  His memory, however, will be an inspiration for those who remain.  Ever upright and honest, studious and versed in all the affairs of the Society, he was indeed a shining ornament within our ranks.

 “He died bravely as he lived courageously.  I feel, like others, that I have lost a friend and a comrade”.[210]

The Association received condolences from, amongst others, George Prendergast, the then Labor Premier of Victoria, and close friend of Dias.[211]  (Prendergast had arranged Dias’ admission to the Victorian Benevolent Society’s nursing home).[212]  The Melbourne Trades Hall passed a motion of regret and sympathy.[213]  The Footscray Branch of the ASC&J passed a motion of deepest regret, paying a glowing tribute to his “magnificent work”.[214]

The Plaque

The plaque outside Melbourne Trades Hall is obviously a generous and sincere tribute to a man who was well-loved by his colleagues.  But it is also the story of a series of blunders.

In November 1923 when Dias was very ill, the Victorian State Executive, with the cordial support of the Federal Executive, decided that a testimonial be raised to him.  Branches of his union were asked to subscribe.[215]  £143-9-5 ($286-94) was collected from throughout Australia.  Dias’ own Branch, Melbourne City, raised the largest amount of £42-10-10 ($85-08), a generous amount.  Geelong was next, then his old Branch of Kalgoorlie.[216]

The new Secretary reported, however, that the money was never given to Dias due to his very low state of health for some time prior to his death and a delay in finalising the amounts from other States.[217]

The Victorian Management Committee then had to consider what to do with the money.  Dias had never married and left no dependants.  His relatives were comparatively comfortable.  The Committee therefore decided to have a memorial bas-relief erected at the Trades Hall.[218]  The Trades Hall Council agreed on 25 September 1924.[219]  In October 1924 the retiring Victorian President urged the incoming Executive to push on with a Dias memorial bas-relief.[220]

On 1 April 1925, after an auditor’s investigation, Dias’ successor as Victorian Secretary, H.F. Smith, was dismissed “for general misconduct in failing to account for moneys received by him on behalf of the Committee”.[221]  In May he was tried on six charges of embezzlement from the Society.  One count was of stealing £298 ($596), another was of stealing £10 ($20) from the Dias Fund.  A verdict of Not Guilty was given on all counts.  The large charge relating to £298 was found to be due to errors in books not kept by the accused.  The £10 missing from the Dias Fund was found to have been repaid.[222]  Shortly after, a warrant for embezzlement was issued for the missing NSW Secretary.[223]

The Federal Secretary then examined the Victorian Branch’s affairs.  He found that the Dias Memorial money had been used by Smith for general purposes.  He also found that no order for a memorial tablet had ever been made.  The report in the Union Journal of this in May 1925 said that “Of the discreditable episodes disclosed by the Federal Secretary’s examination of the Victorian … affairs, this is the most discreditable, and, in fact, may be considered the most shameful event within the history of the Society in Australia”.[224]  Strong words!

Even when work did start on the plaque, it was not smooth sailing.  The Victorian Branch asked a sculptor, Web Gilbert, to undertake the work.  Gilbert is well known for his Great War dioramas in the Australian War Memorial.  Mr Gilbert had never met Dias and in the best portrait that could be found, Dias was one of a group and his head no bigger than a shilling.  Gilbert died before completing the work.[225]  On 8 March 1926 the Victorian Branch made an agreement with another sculptor, William Bowles, for the production of the plaque.[226]  From observing Dias’ sister Annie, and talking to Brady, the new Victorian Secretary, Bowles obtained the inspiration to complete the work.[227]

The plaque was finally unveiled on Saturday, 2 April 1927, during the Victorian Eight Hour Day long weekend, by Arthur Newberry, the Federal Secretary.  There was a large attendance, including interstate visitors, Federal and State Members of Parliament, delegates to the Trades Hall Council and, of course, members of the Amalgamated Society of Carpenters and Joiners[228] – “many appropriate speeches were delivered”.[229]

The largest part of the plaque is a bust of John Dias.  The coat of arms of the Amalgamated Society of Carpenters and Joiners is at the top and again as Dias’ lapel badge.  Below the bust are scenes commemorating his life.  They show carpenters at work and a meeting of workers.  The tribute which opened this article and the Carpenters’ motto, Credo sed caveat (I believe but I am wary) complete the arrangement.

The sculptor, William Bowles, is also known for the King George V and Sir John Monash memorials in Melbourne and some of the Great War dioramas in the Australian War Memorial, Canberra.


In a tribute in the Melbourne Herald of 2 April 1927 ‘LJW’[230] provided a more considered view than the hagiography published at the time of his death.  ‘LJW’ said:

 “Man of action and dreamer, Dias was a peculiar mixture.  And yet not so peculiar perhaps.  His was essentially the pioneering spirit, and inevitably the pioneer must have something of the visionary in his makeup.  Certainly he had seen the ‘vision splendid’.  It might have been a wrong vision, but he believed it to be right and believing that he was prepared to fight for it to the utmost of his powers.”[231]

Dias acquired his strong belief that unions protect the worker when he was in the Queensland outback near the beginning of his working life.  The views of the value of solidarity he then acquired would have been strengthened by his experiences with the Australian exiles trying to build a new and better society in Paraguay.  And then strengthened again by his fight for working men, unionism and the Labor Party in WA.  Then in Broken Hill and Victoria, he continued to put that into practice.

He gives the impression of a man who never wavered from that belief in the value of unionism and the Labor Party to protect and enhance the lives of working people.  Whether he was always right or not, overall he certainly helped to his utmost to protect his fellow man.

 Principal Sources

Information about Dias’ family, birth and death has mainly been drawn from family records, and Birth, Marriage and Death Certificates of him and his parents and siblings.

Some records of the Queensland Shearers’ Union have survived and are in the Noel Butlin Archives, Australian National University, Canberra.  Most information about Dias in the Shearers’ dispute was, however, drawn from Stuart Svensen’s The Shearers’ War: The Story of the 1891 Shearers’ Dispute, University of Queensland Press, 1989, and from later reminisces by or about Dias.

The strange venture of Australian labour idealists in Paraguay has been well chronicled, in particular by Gavin Souter in A Peculiar People: William Lane’s Australian Utopians in Paraguay, University of Queensland Press, 1991 and Anne Whitehead in Paradise Mislaid: In Search of the Australian Tribe of Paraguay, University of Queensland Press, 1997.  Surviving copies of Cosme Monthly were useful and are at the Fisher Library, University of Sydney, the Mitchell Library, Sydney and the National Library of Australia, Canberra (incomplete).

I could locate no substantial information about Dias’ two periods in Broken Hill.  The information about the death of his brother Lewis is from the Barrier Miner newspaper.

Dias’ period in Kalgoorlie, including his election campaign, is mainly drawn from the Westralian Worker (which from 1900 to 1912 was published in Kalgoorlie), Kalgoorlie Miner, Kalgoorlie Sun, Menzies North Coolgardie Herald, Kookynie Press, Mount Morgans Morgans Courier, Perth West Australian and Perth Morning Herald.  Also very useful were the Minute Books of the Goldfields Trades and Labor Council from 1902 to 1905.  These are in the J. S. Battye Library of Western Australian History, Perth (MN300 Accession 1704A/15).

A significant amount of the records of the Victorian Branch of the Amalgamated Society of Carpenters and Joiners have survived.  These are mainly in the Noel Butlin Archives Centre (formerly called the Archives of Business and Labour) at the Australian National University, Canberra, as part of the records deposited by the Building Workers’ Industrial Union (locations S818 and Z534).  They include the Association’s Victorian Minutes, but only from 1912, and the Association’s Journal from 1917, plus occasional earlier issues.  These records were very useful for Dias’ period in the Victorian Branch of the Association plus the story of the plaque.  There are also a few records of the Victorian Branch of the Amalgamated Society of Carpenters and Joiners from this period in the University of Melbourne Archives.  These mainly comprise the Association’s Journal from 1919 plus a few earlier issues and a few copies of the Annual Report.

Minutes of the Melbourne Trades Hall Council are at the University of Melbourne Archives and (on microfilm) at the Noel Butlin Archives, Australian National University.  Labor Call records the Victorian annual Labor Party Conferences and occasionally business of the Amalgamated Society of Carpenters and Joiners in Victoria.

The Melbourne Herald published material about Dias in March and April 1927 before and on the day of the unveiling of the plaque.

[1] George Hunte, Jamaica, B. T. Batsford, London, 1976, p.187.
[2] Family records; Marriage Certificate of Mark Gomes Dias and Caroline Victoria Lewis 1 August 1860; Death Certificate of Mark Gomes Dias 31 May 1900.
[3] Family records; Death Certificate of Louisa Lewis 13 March 1884; Death Certificate of Lewis Lewis 20 July 1889.
[4]Cyclopedia of New Zealand, Christchurch, 1906, entry about Joel Lewis; Family records; Death Certificate of Louisa Lewis 13 March 1884; Death Certificate of Lewis Lewis 20 July 1889.
[5] Marriage Certificate of Mark Gomes Dias and Caroline Victoria Lewis 1 August 1860.
[6] Birth Certificate of John Naphthali Dias 11 May 1861; Melbourne Argus 13 May 1861; Sands and McDougall Melbourne and Suburban Directory for 1863.
[7] The Birth Certificate of Lewis Dias, born 21 January 1863, clearly records the family’s address as the Bridge Hotel, Bridge Road, Richmond. However (Sands and McDougall’s) Melbourne andSuburban Directories for 1863, 1864, 1865, 1866 and 1867 give Mark Dias’ address as Church Street, Richmond, just north of the Yarra River.
[8] The Birth Certificate of Edward Salomon Dias, born 3 August 1864, clearly records the family address as 128 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy. However (Sands and McDougall’s) Melbourne andSuburban Directories for 1863, 1864, 1865 1866 and 1867 give Mark Dias’s address as Church Street, Richmond, just north of the Yarra River.
[9] Geoffrey Serle, The Rush to be Rich: A History of the Colony of Victoria 1883-1889, Melbourne University Press, 1971, p.1; C. E. Sayers, David Syme: a life, F. W. Cheshire, 1965, p.43; Philip Ross May, The West Coast Gold Rushes, Pegasus, Christchurch, NZ, 1962.
[10] Harnett and Co West Coast and Goldfields Directory 1866-67.
[11] Birth Certificate of Samuel Dias born 12 January 1868.
[12] Birth Certificate of Annie Victoria Dias born 25 May 1870.
[13] Family records.
[14] Birth Certificate of Julia Louisa Dias born 24 May 1874.
[15] Birth Certificate of Frances Esther Dias born 9 April 1875.
[16]Wise’s Post Office Directory 1883-84; Wise’s Post Office Directory 1887-88; Wise’s West Coast & Nelson Directory 1892; Wise’s West Coast Directory 1896; TheWest Coast Almanac, Directory, Diary & Yearbook for 1900; Wise’s Post OfficeDirectory 1902-03; Stone’s Canterbury, Nelson, Marlborough & Westland Directory April 1904; Stone’s Directory April 1907; Cyclopedia of New Zealand, Christchurch, 1906.
[17] Death Certificate of Joel Barnett Lewis 2 November 1909; West Coast Times, Hokitika, NZ,
3 November 1909; Gravestone Hokitika Cemetery.
[18] L. M. Goldman, The Jews in Victoria in the Nineteenth Century, Melbourne, 1954, p.288 which says Lewis Lewis was 99, but he was probably 97 at the time; Family records include a notice of the Ball.
[19] L. M. Goldman, The Jews in Victoria in the Nineteenth Century, Melbourne, 1954, p.219.
[20] Death Certificate of Louisa Lewis 13 March 1884.
[21] Death Certificate of Lewis Lewis 20 July 1889.
[22] Family records.
[23] Death Certificate of Mark Gomes Dias 31 May 1900.
[24] Death Certificate of Caroline Victoria Dias 4 March 1923.
[25] Weston Bate, Victorian Gold Rushes, McPhee Gribble/Penguin Books, 1988, ISBN 0 14 011562 5, pp.48-49; Frank Cusack, Bendigo: A History, Heinemann, Melbourne, 1978, ISBN 0 85561 032 8, pp.140-142.
[26] H. F. Smith, Amalgamated Society of Carpenters & Joiners Monthly Report, September 1924, p.9.
[27] Election speech reported in the Kalgoorlie Miner, 20 April 1906.
[28] R.  J.  & R.  A.  Sullivan, The Pastoral Strikes, in D.  J.  Murphy, The Big Strikes, University of Queensland Press, 1983, ISBN 0 7022 1711 5.
[29] Stuart Svensen, The Shearers’ War: The Story of the 1891 Shearers’ Strike, University of Queensland Press, 1989, ISBN 0 7022 2165 1, p.140.
[30] Svensen, ibid, p.139.
[31] For example Charters Towers Northern Mining Register 18 April 1891.
[32] Svensen, ibid, p.140.
[33] Svensen, ibid, p.139 and p.140.
[34] Stuart Svensen, The Shearers’ War: The Story of the 1891 Shearers’ Strike, University of Queensland Press, 1989, ISBN 0 7022 2165 1, pp.141-2; Joe Harris, The Bitter Fight: A pictorial history of the Australian LaborMovement, University of Queensland Press, 1970, ISBN 0 7022 0613 X, p.89.
[35]Labor Call, Melbourne, 7 October 1915, p.1.
[36] For one of the best of many descriptions of the influence of William Lane see Gavin Souter, APeculiar People: William Lane’s Australian Utopians in Paraguay, University of Queensland Press, 1991, ISBN 0 7022 2382 4, Chapter 2.
[37] For example see Brisbane Courier 27 April 1891.
[38] Joe Harris, The Bitter Fight: A pictorial history of the Australian Labor Movement, University of Queensland Press, 1970, ISBN 0 7022 0613 X, p.89.
[39] Geoffrey Blainey, The Rise of Broken Hill, Macmillan of Australia, 1968, pp.59-62.
[40] Joe Harris, The Bitter Fight: A pictorial history of the Australian Labor Movement, University of Queensland Press, 1991, ISBN 0 7022 0613 X, p.89.
[41] Broken Hill Barrier Miner, 27 February p. 3, 28 February, 2 March p. 3 , 4 March p. 1 and 25 March 1895 p.4.  Sydney Morning Herald, 28 February 1895, p. 5, 4 March 1895, p. 6. Lewis Dias is called Lewis in his Birth Certificate and this is a family name, but called Louis in his Death Certificate and Richard in the contemporary reports in the Barrier Miner and Sydney Morning Herald newspapers.  I have chosen to call him Lewis throughout.
[42] New South Wales Criminal Law Amendment Act, No. XVII of 1883, section 13:” …. Provided that in any case if the Judge is of opinion that having regard to all the circumstances it [the crime of manslaughter] would properly be met by a nominal punishment it shall be lawful for him to discharge the jury from giving any verdict and such discharge shall operate as an acquittal.”
[43] Sydney Daily Telegraph 17 July 1893.
[44] A good general description of the Paraguayan background is in Gavin Souter, A PeculiarPeople: William Lane’s Australian Utopians in Paraguay, University of Queensland Press, 1991 ISBN 0 7022 2382 4, chapter 3.
[45] For example Bulletin, Sydney, 10 June, 17 June, 27 July, and 5 August 1893.
[46] Gavin Souter, A Peculiar People: William Lane’s Australian Utopians in Paraguay, University of Queensland Press, 1991, ISBN 0 7022 2382 4, p.62-63.
[47] Souter, ibid, p.49.
[48] Souter, ibid, p.69-70, p.72.
[49] Souter, ibid, chapter 5.
[50] Souter, ibid, chapter 5.
[51] Souter, ibid, chapters 6 and 7.
[52]Cosme Monthly, June 1895, Manuscripts Department, National Library of Australia; Rare Books Department, Fisher Library, University of Sydney, & Mitchell Library, State Library of NSW.
[53] See following sections on Dias’ trip to Britain and his death.
[54] Gavin Souter, A Peculiar People: William Lane’s Australian Utopians in Paraguay, University of Queensland Press, 1991, ISBN 0 7022 2382 4, p.154.
[55] Souter, ibid, p.168.
[56] Lloyd Ross William Lane and the Australian Labor Movement Sydney 1935 p.282;
Souter, A Peculiar People: William Lane’s Australian Utopians in Paraguay, University of Queensland Press, 1991 ISBN 0 7022 2382 4, p.174; Anne Whitehead, Paradise Mislaid: In Search of the Australian Tribe ofParaguay, University of Queensland Press, 1997, ISBN 0 7022 2651 3, pp.450-451.
[57]Cosme Monthly, February 1895 and May 1896.
[58]Cosme Monthly, March 1895 and December 1896.
[59]Cosme Monthly, December 1896.
[60] Gavin Souter, A Peculiar People: William Lane’s Australian Utopians in Paraguay, University of Queensland Press, 1991, ISBN 0 7022 2382 4, chapter 11.
[61] Souter, op cit, p178; Cosme Monthly, April 1899.
[62]Australian Worker, Sydney, 23 March 1916, p.3.
[63] Western Australian Genealogical Society index to passenger movements in WA ports show John Dias and Mr and Mrs Dias arrived in Fremantle on 8 February 1899 on the Koenigin Luise from Melbourne.
[64] Marriage Certificate of Edward Dias and Ethel Kate Seymour 18 September 1897.
[65] East Coolgardie (ie Kalgoorlie) Mining Lease 3873E.  Richard Hartley in Bewick Moreing in Western Australian Gold Mining 1897-1904: Management Policies & Goldfields Responses in Labour History, no.65, November 1993, p.17 has a map of WA Goldfields areas.
[66] Commonwealth Electoral Roll, Division of Kalgoorlie, 1901.
[67] Commonwealth Electoral Roll, Division of Kalgoorlie, 1906.
[68]Coolgardie Miner 11-17 April 1899; Kalgoorlie Miner 11-17 April 1899; WestAustralian 11-17 April 1899; H.J.  Gibney, Working Class Organisation in WestAustralia 1880-1902, Thesis at University of Western Australia, 1949, pp.55-57.
[69]Westralian Worker, 9 August 1901.
[70] Lenore Layman and Julian Goddard, Organise! A visual record of the labour movement in Western Australia, Trades and Labor Council of WA, 1988, ISBN 0 909791 56 2, p.11; Western Australian Museum information pamphlet CH74.113 Banner of the Amalgamated Society of Carpenters and Joiners, Kalgoorlie Branch, undated.
[71]Westralian Worker, 14 September 1900 reports that W.D.  Johnson was President until September 1900 and J.D.  Duncan was elected President on 8 September 1900.  The Westralian Worker 14 December 1900 still refers to J.D.  Duncan as President.  The Westralian Worker 20 September 1901 refers to ASC&J President McAllan.  The Westralian Worker 19 September 1902, in ‘Among the Unions’ refers to Dias as President of the Kalgoorlie Branch of the Amalgamated Society of Carpenters and Joiners. Minutes, Kalgoorlie Branch, ASC&J, Noel Butlin Archives, ANU, Item Z291, Box 14. Minutes of this Branch after 1903 do not appear to have survived.
[72]West Australian, 2 September 1902;
Perth Morning Herald, 2 September 1902; WA Trades’ Union and Labour Congress 1-9 September 1902, Fremantle, Minutes; Westralian Worker 5 September 1902.
[73] H.  J.  Gibbney, Western Australia chapter in D.  J.  Murphy Labor in Politics: The StateLabor Parties in Australia 1880-1920, University of Queensland Press, 1975, ISBN 0 7022 0939 2, p.346; Minutes of WA Trades’ Union and Labour Congress, Fremantle, 3 September 1902.
[74] Perth Morning Herald, 3 September 1902; Westralian Worker, 19 September 1902.
[75]West Australian 8 September 1902; Perth Morning Herald 8 September 1902; Westralian Worker 26 September 1902; H.  J. Gibbney in D.  J.  Murphy Labor in Politics: The StateLabor Parties in Australia 1880-1920, University of Queensland Press, 1975, ISBN 0 7022 0939 2, p.354.
[76] H.  J.  Gibbney in D.  J.  Murphy, Labor in Politics: The StateLabor Parties in Australia 1880-1920, University of Queensland Press, 1975, ISBN 0 7022 0939 2.
[77]Westralian Worker 19 September 1902.
[78] Minutes of the Kalgoorlie Branch, Amalgamated Society of Carpenters and Joiners, 19 September 1902, p. 96, Noel Butlin Archive (of Business and Labour), Australian National University, Deposit number Z291, Box 14.
[79]Westralian Worker 13 March 1903, H.  J.  Gibbney in D. J.  Murphy, Labor in Politics: The State Labor Parties in Australia 1880-1920, University of Queensland Press, 1975, ISBN 0 7022 0939 2, p.355.
[80]Westralian Worker, 19 December 1902; Goldfields Trades and Labour Council Minutes 1902-05.
[81] Minutes of the Kalgoorlie Branch, Amalgamated Society of Carpenters and Joiners, 3 October 1902, p. 98, Noel Butlin Archive (of Business and Labour), Australian National University, Deposit number Z291, Box 14.
[82] Minute books of the Goldfields Trades and Labor Council only survive from November 1902.
[83] Goldfields Trades & Labor Council Minutes 23 March 1903; Westralian Worker 27 March 1903.
[84] Goldfields Trades & Labor Council Minutes 21 September 1903; Westralian Worker 12 February and 6 May 1904.
[85] Goldfields Trades & Labor Council Minutes 4 and 18 April 1904.
[86] Goldfields Trades & Labor Council Minutes 13 June, 11 July, 25 July, 8 August 12 December 1904 and 9 January 1905.
[87]Labor Call, Melbourne, 7 October 1915, p.1.
[88] Labor Call, Melbourne, 7 October 1915, p.1.
[89] Goldfields Trades & Labor Council Minutes 15 December 1902.
[90] Goldfields Trades & Labor Council Minutes 9 February 1903.
[91] Goldfields Trades & Labor Council Minutes 3 November 1902.
[92] Goldfields Trades & Labor Council Minutes 23 March 1903.
[93]Westralian Worker 27 March 1903.
[94]Westralian Worker 3 April 1903.
[95] Goldfields Trades & Labor Council Minutes 5 October 1903.
[96]Westralian Worker 2 October 1903.
[97]Westralian Worker 30 October 1903.
[98] Goldfields Trades & Labor Council Minutes 13 June 1904.
[99] Goldfields Trades & Labor Council Minutes 13 June 1904.
[100] Goldfields Trades & Labor Council Minutes 25 July 1904.
[101]Westralian Worker 16 December 1904; Goldfields Trades and Labour Council Minutes 12 December 1904.
[102] Goldfields Trades & Labor Council Minutes 9 January 1905.
[103]Westralian Worker 15 December 1905; Kalgoorlie Miner 11 December 1905.
[104] Western Argus, Kalgoorlie, 30 September 1902, p. 13.
[105] Western Argus, Kalgoorlie, 18 June 1901, p. 37.
[106] Labor Call, Melbourne, 7 October 1915, p.1.
[107]Westralian Worker 2 February and 16 February 1906.
[108] Western Australian Constitution Acts Amendment Act 1899, 63 Victoria No.  19, section 15.
[109] Commonwealth of Australia Electoral Roll, Division of Kalgoorlie, 1906.
[110]Kalgoorlie Miner 7 April 1906, 9 April 1906; Westralian Worker 14 April 1906.
[111]Kalgoorlie Miner 14 April 1906; Westralian Worker 14 April 1906 (report and editorial).
[112]Kalgoorlie Miner 28 April 1906.
[113]Kalgoorlie Miner 7 May 1906.
[114]Kalgoorlie Miner 9 May 1906.
[115]Morgans Courier, Mt Morgans, 9 May 1906; Kalgoorlie Miner 28 April 1906.
[116]Kalgoorlie Miner 20 April 1906.
[117]Kalgoorlie Miner 20 April 1906.
[118]Westralian Worker 27 April 1906; Kalgoorlie Miner 28 April 1906.
[119]Kalgoorlie Miner 28 April 1906 (advertisement).
[120]Kalgoorlie Miner 1 May 1906.
[121]Kookynie Press 2 May 1906; Kalgoorlie Miner 3 May 1906.
[122]Kalgoorlie Miner 4 May 1906; Morgans Courier, Mt Morgans, 5 May 1906.
[123]Kalgoorlie Miner 30 April and 9 May 1906.
[124]Kalgoorlie Miner 20 April, 26 April, 28 April, 1 May, 3 May (three advertisements), 4 May, 5 May, 7 May, 9 May, 10 May and 12 May 1906.
[125]Kalgoorlie Miner 9 May and 12 May 1906.
[126] Kalgoorlie Sun 13 April, 29 April, 6 May and 13 May 1906.
[127]Kalgoorlie Miner 15 May 1906.
[128]North Coolgardie Herald 16 May 1906.
[129] Kalgoorlie Sun 13 May 1906.
[130]Kalgoorlie Miner 14 May 1906.
[131]Westralian Worker 11 May 1906.
[132]North Coolgardie Herald 13 May 1906.
[133] Colin A. Hughes & Don Aitkin, Voting for the Australian State Upper Houses 1890-1984, Australian National University, 1986 ISBN 909779 18 X, p.185.
[134]Kalgoorlie Miner 15 May 1906; West Australian 15 May 1906.
[135] Neil Jarvis (editor), Western Australia: an Atlas of Human Endeavour, Second Edition, Department of Lands and Surveys, Perth, 1986, ISBN 0 7309 0082 7, p.127.
[136] Colin A.  Hughes and Don Aitkin, Voting for the Australian State Upper Houses 1890-1984, Australian National University, 1986 ISBN 909779 18 X, p.191.
[137] Western Argus, Kalgoorlie, 2 July 1907, p. 25.
[138] Commonwealth Electoral Roll, Division of Barrier 1906; ‘LJW’ Melbourne Herald 2 April 1927; Amalgamated Society of Carpenters & Joiners Monthly Report May 1927, p.109.
[139] Commonwealth Electoral Rolls, Division of Barrier 1909, 1910, 1913, 1914, 1916, 1917, 1919 and 1922.
[140] Labor Call, Melbourne, 7 October 1915, p.1.
[141] Geoffrey Blainey, The Rise of Broken Hill, Macmillan of Australia, 1968, pp.114-122; John Iremonger, John Merritt & Graeme Osborne (editors), Strikes: Studies in Twentieth Century Australian Social History, Angus & Robertson, Sydney, 1973, ISBN 0 2071 2694 1, Chapter 2.
[142]The Worker, Sydney, 19 January 1927.
[143]History of the [ASC&J] Society 1860-1910, Manchester, England, 1910; Amalgamated Society of Carpenters & Joiners Monthly Report September 1910, p.5.
[144]Carpenters’ & Joiners’ Journal, South Australian Branch, Amalgamated Society of Carpenters & Joiners, June 1976, p.10.
[145]Victoria Government Gazette, no. 2, 5 January 1910, page 9. The appointment was confirmed in Victoria Government Gazette, no. 22, 16 February 1910, page 1161, meaning that there were no objections to the appointments.
[146] Victoria Government Gazette, no. 145, 19 September 1913, p. 4207.
[147]Victoria Government Gazette, no. 91, 19 April 1916, p. 1608.
[148] ASC&J Report for Half-Year ending September 1910, Noel Butlin Archives, ANU, Item Z316, Box 146.
[149]Victorian Year-Book 1913-14, Government Printer, Melbourne, page 522.
[150] The precise title of this Branch varied from time to time.
[151] ASC&J Minute book, 1910/11, page 344, Noel Butlin Archives, ANU, Item Z316, Box 146.
[152] ASC&J Minute book, 1910/11, pages 359-360, Noel Butlin Archives, ANU, Item Z316, Box 146.
[153] Minute Book, Victorian Management Committee, Amalgamated Society of Carpenters and
Joiners, Noel Butlin Archives, Australian National University.
[154] ASC&J Monthly Report, January 1918 until April 1923, front pages.
[155] Information in this section, unless otherwise indicated, is drawn from the Minutes of the Melbourne Trades Hall Council on the dates indicated.
[156] Melbourne Argus 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, 13, 18, 20, & 27 July, 10, 12, 15, 16, 21, 22, & 24 August, 13 & 23 September, 7 & 19 October, 11, 12 & 30 November, 6 & 7 December 1918; Melbourne Herald 29 November 1918; Labor Call 14 November & 5 December 1918.
[157] 1912 Minute Book, Victorian Management Committee, Amalgamated Society of Carpenters and Joiners; Commonwealth Electoral Rolls, Division of Melbourne 1912, 1913, 1915, 1916, 1919, 1921 and 1922.
[158]Labor Call 11 April 1912 which misprints ‘J.  Dias’ as ‘J.  Dras’.
[159]Labor Call 30 April 1914.
[160]Labor Call 15 April 1915.
[161]Labor Call 11 April 1918.
[162]Labor Call 22 May 1919.
[163]Labor Call 31 March 1921.
[164]Labor Call 22 May 1919.
[165]Labor Call 22 May 1919.
[166] ‘LJW’ Melbourne Herald 2 April 1927; Amalgamated Society of Carpenters & Joiners (ASC&J) Monthly Report December 1916, p.7; ASC&J Monthly Report May 1927, p.110.
[167]Australian Worker, Sydney, 23 March 1916.
[168]Labor Call 16 March 1916; Sydney Morning Herald and Sydney Daily Telegraph 16 March 1916 shipping advertisements.
[169]Labor Call 16 March 1916.
[170] The letter is in the Minute Book, Victorian Management Committee, Amalgamated Society of Carpenters and Joiners, Noel Butlin Archives, Australian National University.
[171] I cannot explain this expression.
[172]Annual Reports of the Amalgamated Society of Carpenters and Joiners, Manchester, Britain.  Chandler had been General Secretary of Amalgamated Society of Carpenters & Joiners since 1888 and was very influential.
[173] Amalgamated Society of Carpenters & Joiners (ASC&J) Monthly Report December 1916 p.6.
[174]Labor Call 12 April 1917.
[175] ASC&J Monthly Report April 1917 p.5.
[176] ASC&J Monthly Report May 1917 p.10.
[177] ASC&J Monthly Report May 1917 pp.10-11.
[178] ASC&J Monthly Report June 1917 p.15.
[179] ASC&J Monthly Report June 1917 pp.16-17, The copy at Noel Butlin Archives, Australian National University with annotations ‘LIAR’ is included with papers originating from the Victorian Management Committee, ASC&J.
[180] ASC&J Monthly Report May 1917 p.11.
[181] ASC&J Monthly Report April 1918 p.12.
[182] ASC&J Monthly Report December 1920 p.10.
[183] ASC&J Monthly Report March 1921, pages 12-13, April 1921, pages 10-12.
[184] ASC&J Monthly Report January 1917 p.13.
[185] ASC&J Monthly Report January 1917 p.12.
[186] ASC&J Monthly Report January 1917 p.13.
[187] ASC&J New Zealand Jubilee Souvenir pamphlet Auckland 1923; ASC&J New Zealand Diamond Jubilee pamphlet Auckland 1933.
[188] Minutes of Victorian Management Committee, ASC&J, May 1913.
[189] Minutes of Victorian Management Committee, ASC&J, July 1913.
[190] For example, ASC&J Monthly Report February 1917 pp.22-23; ASC&J MonthlyReport December 1920 p.29.
[191] ASC&J Monthly Report June 1920 p.8.
[192] ASC&J Monthly Report August 1922 p.23.
[193] ASC&J Monthly Report November 1922 pp.19-22
[194] ASC&J Monthly Report January 1923 p.6.
[195] ASC&J Monthly Report May 1923 pp.12-14.
[196] Raj Jadeja, Parties to the Award, Noel Butlin Archives Centre, Australian National University, Canberra, 1994, ISBN 0 7315 2070 X.
[197] Warwick Eather, ‘Exterminate the Traitors’: the Wagga Wagga and District Trades and Labor Council, Trade Unionism and the Wagga Wagga Community 1943-60 in Labour History, no.72, May 1997, p.116.
[198] ASC&J Monthly Report September 1922 p.11.
[199] ASC&J Monthly Report November 1923 p.8.
[200] Admissions Register of the Kingston Centre Melbourne Hospital and Home for the Aged (originally Victorian Benevolent Home), Manuscripts Section, State Library of Victoria.
[201] Northern Standard, (journal of the North Australian Workers’ Union), Darwin NT, 10 June 1924, p. 2.
[202] Advice circa 1965 from Bert Israel, nephew of Dias, to Gavin Souter, author of APeculiar People: William Lane’s Australian Utopians in Paraguay in Souter papers, Rare Books Department, Fisher Library, University of Sydney; Death Certificate of John Dias 13 August 1924; Letter of 14 August 1916 from John Dias in Manchester to Tom Tunaley now in the Minute Book, Victorian Management Committee, Amalgamated Society of Carpenters & Joiners, Noel Butlin Archives, Australian National University.
[203] Death Certificate of John Dias 13 August 1924.
[204] Death Certificate of John Dias 13 August 1924.
[205]Labor Call Melbourne  21 August 1924.
[206] Estate of John Dias, Registrar of Probates, Supreme Court of Victoria.
[207] Argus, Melbourne, Friday 15 February 1924, p. 8.
[208] Minutes of Victorian Management Committee, Amalgamated Society of Carpenters and Joiners, 18 August 1924.
[209] Death Certificate of Edward Dias 21 October 1924.
[210] ASC&J Monthly Report September 1924 p.9.
[211] Minutes Victorian Management Committee, Amalgamated Society of Carpenters and Joiners, 18 August 1924.
[212] Admissions Register of the Kingston Centre Melbourne Hospital and Home for the Aged (originally Victorian Benevolent Home), Manuscripts Section, State Library of Victoria.
[213] Melbourne Trades Hall Council Minutes 14 August 1924.
[214] Minutes Victorian Management Committee, Amalgamated Society of Carpenters and Joiners,
22 September 1924.
[215] ASC&J Monthly Report November 1923 p.8.
[216] ASC&J Monthly Report June 1925 p.7.
[217] Minutes Victorian Management Committee, Amalgamated Society of Carpenters and Joiners, 18 August 1924.
[218] Ibid.
[219] Melbourne Trades Hall Council Minutes 25 September 1924.
[220] Minutes Victorian Management Committee, Amalgamated Society of Carpenters and Joiners, 13 October 1924.
[221] ASC&J Monthly Report May 1925 p.6.
[222] ASC&J Monthly Report August 1925 pp.19-20.
[223] ASC&J Monthly Report July 1925, p.5.
[224] ASC&J Monthly Report May 1925 pp.6-7.
[225] Melbourne Herald 2 April 1927.
[226] Minutes Victorian Management Committee, Amalgamated Society of Carpenters and Joiners, 8 March 1926.
[227] Melbourne Herald 2 April 1927, p.2.
[228] Melbourne Herald 2 April 1927, p. 2; Melbourne Sun News-Pictorial 4 April 1927; an illustration is in the Melbourne Herald 4 March 1927, back page.
[229]Labor Call Melbourne 7 April 1927.
[230] ‘LJW’ may have been Joseph Waxman, an executor of Dias’ estate, or his brother Lewis Waxman, or both
[231] ‘LJW’, Melbourne Herald, feature articles section, 2 April 1927, p. 13; repeated (without attribution) in ASC&J Monthly Report May 1927, pp.109-111.