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William Henry (Bill) Seale (1882–1930)

from Labor Daily

William Seale, Fairfax Corporation, c.1930

William Seale, Fairfax Corporation, c.1930

National Library of Australia, 51894033

Trade Union circles were shocked to learn of the death of Mr. W. H. [William Henry] Seale, secretary of the Waterside Workers' Federation, and ex-president of the New South Wales branch of the A.L.P., which occurred yesterday evening.

Mr. Seale, who was a bachelor and a native of Pyrmont, was about 55 years of age. For some little time past he had not been in the best of health, but his death came as a great shock to his relatives and immediate friends.

Yesterday Mr. Seale attended his office as usual. About 1 o'clock in the afternoon he mentioned to Mr. W. J. Mills, the vigilant officer of the organisation, about feeling indisposed, and was advised to go home.

Subsequently he took a turn for the worse, and at Mr. Mills' solicitation left for his home, intending to seek medical advice. Later his condition became worse and he was removed to the War Memorial Hospital at Waverley, where he died at 6 o'clock.

For some years Mr. Beale had lived with his mother in Kensington. He was an untiring worker in the cause of unionism, and all that unionism stands for, and a leading figure in the Australian Labor Party. When the organisation was slipping into inaction and disrepute it was W. H. Seale who had the courage to declare his convictions and point the way to a clearer and more forth-right way of attaining Labor's political goal in 1926.

Mr. Seale, in defiance of the executive of the day, insisted on calling the Easter Conference together and subsequently achieved a signal victory.

After completing his term as president he dropped out of active participation in political affairs, mainly because of failing health.

In their long fight for regulated hours, decent conditions and adequate pay for the watersiders, Mr. Seale was a front-rank stalwart. He succeeded the late Mr. Jock Woods as secretary of the organisation. A predecessor in office, was the subsequent Prime Minister of the Commonwealth, Mr. W. M Hughes.

Nowhere, however, did Mr. Seale, in his multifarious political and industrial activities, more excel than in his work before the Federal Arbitration Court. He was an able, astute and tireless industrial fighter for his union.

When the unexampled raid on the Wharfies' conditions was made by the late Federal Government, Mr. W. H. Seale fought to the last ditch. The strain and the ceaseless worry of the battle commenced to tell in the end, and the genial William was told to 'go slow' after he had suffered and recovered from a serious breakdown.

Mr Seale's last great fight fight for his union was made only three weeks ago, when he placed the organisation's position before the A.C.T.U.'s Congress in Melbourne.

On all sides he was complemented for his masterly handling of the situation. Unfortunately, he did not live to see the realisation of his hopes.

Actually he was due to-day to present to his union a report of the results of the Melbourne proceedings.

After a long fight in 1924 the union secured preference for its members, and from then on enjoyed a reasonable measure of continuity of employment until economic pressure forced many out of work.

Mr Seale is survived by his mother and two brothers and five sisters.

The funeral will leave Wood Coffill's parlors at 810 George Street for the Rookwood Cemetery at 1.45 pm tomorrow.

Commenting last night, Mr. Jno. Hickey, Sydney solicitor, spoke in glowing terms of the splendid work done by the late Mr. Seale, whom he regarded as one of his closest friends. "The whole timing is most regrettable," said Mr. Hickey, "and is made doubly so by the loss suffered by the Labor Movement generally.

Mr. Seale was actually speaking to me in my office shortly after lunch yesterday and the news of his death came as a great shock to me."

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Citation details

'Seale, William Henry (Bill) (1882–1930)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 24 July 2024.

© Copyright Obituaries Australia, 2010-2024

William Seale, Fairfax Corporation, c.1930

William Seale, Fairfax Corporation, c.1930

National Library of Australia, 51894033

Life Summary [details]


25 December, 1882
Pyrmont, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia


18 March, 1930 (aged 47)
Waverley, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Cause of Death


Religious Influence

Includes the religion in which subjects were raised, have chosen themselves, attendance at religious schools and/or religious funeral rites; Atheism and Agnosticism have been included.

Political Activism