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Robert (Bobby) Elliott (1864–1931)

Keen regret is expressed at the death of Mr. Robert Elliott, secretary of the Victorian branch of the Printing Industry Employes' Union, which took place at his home, Highton-grove, Balwyn, on Saturday last.

"Bob" Elliott was one of the oldest officials in the Trades Hall. For over 22 years he had been a full-time official of the union, first as organiser, then as secretary, but for eighteen years prior to his appointment as organiser in 1909, he had acted in an honorary capacity as treasurer and in other positions. So that for the past forty years he had been an official of the union. He had a union membership of over 50 years. His had been a life's service in the Trade Union Movement.

His experience and work as a trade union official dates back to the time when there were no Wages Board determinations or Arbitration awards to protect the wages and conditions of employment, and his knowledge of those times had always made him an ardent supporter of the Labor Party.

Mr. Elliott was a member of the first Wages Board in the printing industry, and he continued to act on that Board until he was no longer eligible because of his appointment as a paid official of his union. Possessed of a keen, logical mind, and with an abundance of tact and good judgment, his services on the Wages Board, and the many conferences with employers on matters of wages and conditions, were invaluable to his fellows. He was largely responsible for the foundation of the awards and determinations that are now existing for the protection of printers.

By trade, Bob Elliott was a compositor, and his interest as a craftsman was always maintained. He unceasingly strived to raise the standard of craftsmanship in the printing industry, and was an enthusiastic member of the Printing Committee of the Apprenticeship Commission and of the Printers' Advisory Committee of the Working Men's College. He was a director of the Industrial Printing and Publicity Co., and had been a director may years ago of the "Tocsin," which preceded the "Labor Call." He was also chairman of directors of the Industrial Insurance Co.

His activities, particularly in his younger days were not confined to his union. He was an ardent supporter of the Australian Labor Party, and his support was not merely founded on a theoretical study of Labor principles, but on the hard and bitter experiences of a time when to be a trade unionist was unpopular, and involved much sacrifice. He was a foundation member of the Essendon branch of the A.L.P. and was its first secretary, and remained loyal to the party to the end, as evidenced by the fact that, though seriously ill, he had voted by post the day prior to his death.

Mr. Elliott was 67 years of age at his death, and, strangely, it took place on his birthday. He was buried at the Box Hill Cemetery on Monday last, and the funeral was attended by a representative gathering of the printing Industry, among whom were Mr. P. Richards (president Victorian branch), Mr. A. M. Leavold (acting secretary), Mr. J. S. Toohey (acting Federal advocate); Mr. H James ("Herald" chapel). Mr. J. Taylor ("Argus"), Mr. G. N. McGregor ("Age"), Mr. E. Boase (Government Printing Office), Mr. H. Beale (Commonwealth Note Printing Office), Mr. H. J. Evans (Railways Printing Office), and Mr. R. W. Bryan ("Labor Call").

Mr. E. Baillie represented The Herald and Weekly Times management; Mr. R. Myers the "Argus" proprietors, Mr. J. Bromell the "Age" proprietors; Mr. Duncan McDougall (Sands & McDougall) and Mr. H. Keating (Keating & Wood), Mr. H. Rundle (secretary) represented the Master Printers' Association.

Messrs. F. Riley (president) and W. J. Duggan (secretary, of the Trades Hall Council); D. L. McNamara, M.L.C., general secretary A.L.P.; Mr. H. E. Foster, treasurer (and also representing Industrial Printing and Publicity Co.); and Messrs. M. Blackburn, G. M. Prendergast, and J. Holland, M.'sL.A., on behalf of the State Parliamentary Labor Party.

Mr. Elliott is survived by his widow and two daughters, and to them we extend our deepest sympathy.

The Rev. F. A. Paton, of the Presbyterian Church, officiated at the graveside, and the funeral arrangements were carried out by Mr. R. Bobson.

"Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints in the sands of time."

Original publication

Additional Resources

  • profile, Labor Call (Melbourne), 10 November 1921, p 8

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

'Elliott, Robert (Bobby) (1864–1931)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 17 April 2024.

© Copyright Obituaries Australia, 2010-2024

Life Summary [details]


19 December, 1864
Hawick, Roxburghshire, Scotland


19 December, 1931 (aged 67)
Balwyn, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Cause of Death

kidney disease

Cultural Heritage

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