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Charles McKenzie (Charlie) Kilpatrick (1871–1935)

Charlie Kilpatrick, 1925

Charlie Kilpatrick, 1925

Queensland’s industrial and political movement has suffered a great blow by the death at Ipswich yesterday of Mr. Charles Kilpatrick, president of the Queensland branch of the Colliery Employees' Union.

With his passing, the union movement, coalminers in particular, will suffer almost an irreparable loss, for Charles Kilpatrick was a fighter, a Labor stalwart whom few could equal, but withal, one of Nature's good things.

His death has cast a gloom over the whole of West Moreton, and miners will bow their heads at the loss of one who, to them was always a firm friend and a trustworthy guide.

The late Charles ("Charlie," to miners throughout the State) Kilpatrick was one of the best known figures in Queensland Industrial and mining circles. For 19 years he had served as president and check inspector of the Queensland Colliery Employees' Union. He was 63 years of age, and he devoted practically the whole of his time in caring for the interests of colliery employees in Queensland. His honesty of purpose and sincerity was never doubted. Year after year, by ballot of the members of his union throughout the State, confidence in him as president of the union was renewed. His advice was always so earnest and his attitude always so fair, that he won the respect of all concerned in the industry, even of those to whom he was opposed in industrial negotiations.'

Employers knew that the late president of the union would always take a firm stand on behalf of the men and they respected him for his earnestness.

Through the years that he served as president of the union, he also held the position of Inspector of mines on behalf of the men. He gained that position under a Queensland Act. In his capacity as Mines Inspector, he travelled throughout the State, examining all the mines in respect to ventilation and working conditions generally. And the job was always well done, for none knew mining better than Charlie Kilpatrick. He had a more intimate knowledge of coal mining in Queensland than perhaps any other man in the State. He was also a keen student of mining conditions technically.

He always took opportunities of examining thoroughly any suggestions giving promise of improving the trade. Frequently he and other union officials co-operated with the proprietors in efforts to improve the conditions in the industry generally, and it was due largely to Mr. Kilpatrick's leadership in that direction that the welfare of the industry has been preserved to the extent it has.

His last office in this direction was that as a member of the State Coal Board, constituted under a recent Act of Parliament, to control the marketing of coal, and exploit any possibility offering for the improvement of trade. It was, perhaps, in industrial disputes, however, that his ability was most marked.

The late Charles Kilpatrick came to Queensland from Scotland 23 years ago, bringing with him that calm deliberation and thoroughness that is a characteristic of his race. He always knew when it was best to adapt a firm attitude, and when to adopt conciliatory means. Because of those attributes he was able to preserve the reputation of the Queensland Colliery Employees' Union for fair mindedness and for refraining from ordering strikes of any unimportant issues. With the able co-operation of other officials he usually brought about settlements of branch disputes without any serious loss of time and without any loss of dignity to the men concerned.

Mr. Kilpatrick was a member of the Conciliation Board, which functioned for the settlement of disputes within the State, which could not be settled on the spot, and he often met the proprietors' representatives in conference on matters concerning conditions prescribed in the award, and the interpretation of the award. His activities extended beyond the limits of the State and he visited the South at Intervals as the representative of the State section of the Australian Coal and Shale Employees' Federation, and a member of the council of that body when disputes and other matters affecting those States were being considered.

The late Charles Kilpatrick had a special aptitude for controlling bodies of men. On no occasion did his advice prove against the interests of the members. There were occasions, however, when serious disputes were deemed necessary, and then the late president entered the fight without giving any quarter to the union's opponents. On one occasion during, his term the State union was involved in an Australian-wide strike and, led by the late Charles Kilpatrick, it entered the dispute with all its strength.

He played a leading part in the negotiations which brought about a settlement, and, although firm in his attitudes he was nevertheless tactful. As chairman of the many meetings of the men in this State he earned for himself a high reputation in controlling big bodies of men who, at times, in heat of stirring issues; might have acted unwisely. He never allowed a meeting to get beyond his control, but at the same time he fully preserved the member’s rights in debate. He took no vote without proper consideration of the issue.

He was always respected by his men or his clarity of explanation of any issue in dispute.

The late Charles Kilpatrick was too actively engaged in industrial matters to take a leading part in politics, although during election campaigns he was always to be seen, playing a big part or Labor's cause. He was a member of the Queensland Central Executive of the A.L.P. and was one of Labor's appointees to the Legislative Council when that Chamber was abolished. Recently he was awarded a King's Siler Jubilee medal in recognition of the many great services he had rendered the people.

"Charlie" Kilpatrick was a good man. His thoughts were always with those whom he served. Things at the little office of the union at Booval will be different now.

The office is beside the railway line and frequently, when the president was on duty a rail motor passing by would prompt him to remark. "Another locomotive out." That meant less coal, and consequently less work, for the union's members.

Such a remark was characteristic of Charles Kilpatrick.

The late president possessed keen business ability and he placed it at the disposal his union in assisting in the conduct of the National Hall pictures, which the union owns.

He is survived by a widow and family. The funeral leaves his late home at Byrnes Estate. Bundamba, at 3 o'clock to-day for the Ipswich Cemetery. It is expected that a large number of miners will join the cortege.

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'Kilpatrick, Charles McKenzie (Charlie) (1871–1935)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 20 April 2024.

© Copyright Obituaries Australia, 2010-2024

Charlie Kilpatrick, 1925

Charlie Kilpatrick, 1925

Life Summary [details]


1 November, 1871
Glasgow, Lanarkshire, Scotland


28 May, 1935 (aged 63)
Ipswich, Queensland, Australia

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