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Bowling, Peter (1864–1942)

from Lachlander and Condobolin Recorder

Honest, hard-hitting coal miner, Peter Bowling played a very prominent part as a pioneer mover in Labor circles and had to serve a term in gaol rather than "capitulate" in that terrible period of coal strike in 1909 when the Wade Government was in power in New South Wales. Born in Scotland, 78 years ago, he possessed all the best fighting qualities and determination that country that has given so many able men to the world over. The Editor of the "Lachlander" has a very vivid recollection of that strike and the intense public interest created when the Wade Government came out with a measure of suppression which included arrest of any who continued to lead or who took part in massed assembles. At that time Billy Hughes was an out and out Labour man, equally outspoken as Peter Dowling and taking a leading movement in the first for the striker. But Billy did not wait to be arrested. He scooted off to Melbourne instantly (he was in the Federal Parliament) and became as silent as a buried worm. However, it is only fair to Hughes to state that, although he was President of the Wharf Labourer's Union at the time, he used his influence in every way to settle the strike. Peter Bowling (and others) was arrested and sentenced to a term (some years) in gaol. That was bad enough in the eyes of many, but the outrageous incident that raised the ire of all but a few was that he was marched to gaol wearing leg irons. From then on the Wade Government was dubbed the "Leg Irons" Ministry and Mr. Wade himself very frequently referred to as "Coercion Wade." However, the sacrifices for principle by Peter Bowling and others were not without repercussions and early Labour electoral success. The first Labour Government was returned at the election polls and Mr. McGowen became Premier. Something not known, to but a few is worthy of record. An active Labour League in the Bega electorate took the initial step to have Peter Bowling nominated as the Labour candidate for the electorate, while he was still in gaol. With the enormous swing to Labour and the circumstances of his arrest and treatment, it was believed he could certainly win that contest. Mrs. Bowling was written to, and the writer of this notice saw the reply written in her own hand-writing, full of appreciation for the offer and the support promised. After receipt of her letter, for reason not necessarily for publication, the nomination proposal was abandoned. Mrs. Bowling is still living, also a daughter and five sons, and it is specially worthy of record that five sons fought in the Great War of 1914-18.

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Citation details

'Bowling, Peter (1864–1942)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, https://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/bowling-peter-5314/text39577, accessed 16 October 2021.

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