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Percy Brookfield: Australia's rebel parliamentarian

6:15am Fri 07 Apr
melbourne

About this session

Labelled by IWW leader Donald Grant "the best hated man in Australia", Percy Brookfield was a legendary socialist working class leader in the early twentieth century. A Broken Hill miner, he formed and led Labor's Volunteer Army, a workers' militia pledged "to the working class of Australia" in order to defeat the attempt to introduce conscription during World War I. This militia, which reached 2,500 members, defended anti-conscription rallies from pro-war elements. Brookfield would go on to be elected as a member of the state parliament representing Broken Hill for the Labor Party in February 1917, from which position he would defend the persecuted socialists of the IWW and serve as an advocate of the Russian Revolution. Splitting with the Labor Party in July 1919, Brookfield was re-elected as a member of the Socialist Labor Party, the first person to be elected from a socialist party in Australia. Brookfield's story is one of a genuine fighter and radical parliamentarian who maintained their principles.

WE RECOMMEND YOU PAIR THIS SESSION WITH Wobblies! The Australian Industrial Workers of the World in the From little things: Revolutionary Organisation stream.

Recommended Reading

Labor's titan: the story of Percy Brookfieldby Gilbert Giles Roper
The Best Hated Man in Australia: The Life and Death of Percy Brookfield 1875-1921by Paul Robert Adams
Labor's Volunteer Army: the 1916 Conscription Referendum in Broken Hillby Paul Robert Adams
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