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Murray Norris (1910–1986)

On Friday, May 16, Murray Norris died of cancer in Brisbane. He was a man who stood for and supported life's worthwhile things: peace, democracy, equal opportunity, the right to work, independence and the preservation of civil liberties. With these aspirations, he naturally found himself at times, over the years, at variance and in conflict with the establishment and the forces that exist to perpetuate the status quo.

He was born in Renmark, South Australia, in 1914. A victim of the Great Depression, he became involved in organising the unemployed movement in NSW. His experiences of the injustices of the time and the denial of basic human rights led him to become a member of the Communist Party of Australia in 1932.

His involvement with the CPA, added to his general working class activities, brought him into conflict with some of Australia's worst rightwing elements, including the fascist New Guard and other reactionary organisations. Undeterred, he remained committed to working class principles and socialist ideals throughout his life.

He became a member of the Australian Workers' Union while working at mines in Mount Isa and the Northern Territory during World War II. He became an organiser in 1945, and was elected as the union's secretary and industrial advocate in 1947. He was president from 1949 to 1951.

He then became involved with the Waterside Workers' Federation of Australia. His wandering nature had him transferring around the Australian coastline, working in Darwin, Sydney, Bowen, Cairns, Rockhampton, Brisbane and various other ports.

He was an active supporter of the peace movement, and was always prepared to debate with those, and there were quite a few, who argued that peace is not trade union business.

He always took the side of the exploited, contributing to their cause and the betterment of their lot. As a waterside worker, he gave leadership on the job and battled for the implementation of his unions' policies. He was a sincere man of high integrity, honest and dependable.

He was a grand trade unionist, a fighter for peace and loyal son of the working class. He will be sadly missed by his family, workmates and friends.

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'Norris, Murray (1910–1986)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 18 April 2024.

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