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John Barkell Holman (1872–1925)

from Western Mail

Following an operation at St. John of God Hospital, Subiaco, Mr. J. B. [John Barkell] Holman, M.L.A., died early on Monday morning. Ever since he underwent an operation for appendicitis, about twelve months ago, he had been hampered in his political and official duties by periods of indifferent health, and he often felt the strain of his Parliamentary and Arbitration Court work. A vigorous and uncompromising member of the Labour Party, and a hard worker in the cause of unionism, he has left a personal mark which is not likely to be eradicated from the history of the State.

Mr. Holman was first elected to Parliament in December, 1901, when he defeated Mr. F. W. Moorhead (afterwards Mr. Justice Moorhead), at a by-election for the Murchison, held in consequence of the latter's elevation to Ministerial office. He became Minister for Railways and Labour in the Daglish Government, in August, 1904, and resigned office in June, in the following year. In November, 1911, he was elected Chairman of Committees, in the Legislative Assembly, and ceased to hold this office on Parliament's being dissolved, on March 22, 1917. He held the Murchison seat from the time he was first elected until March 12, 1921, from which date he was out of Parliament until he took the late Mr. P. L. O'Loghlen's place as representative for Forrest, in 1923. He would have been 53 years of age next Thursday, the date fixed for the funeral.

During recent years Mr. Holman concentrated his energies mostly on the affairs of the Federated Timber Workers' Union, of which he was general secretary. In his capacity as union advocate before the Federal Arbitration Court he was called upon to perform a great deal of exacting work, in the preparation of logs, and in their presentation before the Court. By dint of strenuous application to the task, he familiarised himself with conditions in all of the timber mills in Australia, including Tasmania, and in every case affecting the welfare of the workers he proved himself a hard-fighting advocate. He was generally pitted against Mr. W. W. Alcock, the employers' representative. In Parliament, too, his activities were largely directed along the same channel, and his speeches, concerning the claims and lives of the timber-workers, were always remarkable for a wealth of detail and a keen sympathy.

Mr. Holman started life as a miner, having been born in Bendigo, Victoria, and he came to Western Australia in 1893, working for some years on the Murchison goldfields. Proving an effective industrial leader during the Day Dawn strike in 1896, he became an A.W.U. organiser on the Murchison, and a few years later he entered politics. It was after his retirement as Minister for Railways that he became identified with the timber-workers' interests. For a long time he was chairman of directors of the People's Printing Co., and he made it one of his objectives in life to see the start of a Labour daily newspaper. He was a prominent athlete in his young days.

Original publication

Other Obituaries for John Barkell Holman

Additional Resources

  • tribute, Daily News (Perth), 24 February 1925, p 8
  • funeral, Westralian Worker, 6 March 1925, p 5

Citation details

'Holman, John Barkell (1872–1925)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 15 April 2024.

© Copyright Obituaries Australia, 2010-2024

Life Summary [details]


26 February, 1872
Clunes, Victoria, Australia


23 February, 1925 (aged 52)
Subiaco, Perth, Western Australia, Australia

Cause of Death

surgical complications

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