Chifley file photo, Canberra, Australia, 1948 [6499]

Ben Chifley

Given NameBen
Born22 Sep 1885
Died13 Jun 1951


ww2dbaseAs a part of the Engine Drivers and Fireman's Association of Australia, Joseph Benedict Chifley was blacklisted for striking during the First World War. Being elected to federal parliament for the seat of Macquarie in 1928 after working for a quarter of a century as an engine driver on the railways in the rural NSW town of Bathurst, the place of his birth, Ben Chifley was a minister in the Scullin government, but supported the ALP leadership against Jack Lang, the backlash of which lost him his seat in parliament in 1931. Regaining it in 1940, just in time to witness John Curtin sweeping to power, Ben Chifley was entrusted with the Treasury portfolio in the Curtin government in 1941. This ministry saw him at the forefront of the economic organization of the war. With the ailing wartime Labor leader's passing in July 1945, Chifley was named successor by his Labor peers on 12 July 1945, his tenure as prime minister saw the implementation of many policies that led Australia cautiously through the minefield of post-war reconstruction from war to peace. His policies were centralist, as Chifley himself admitted, he had "supported every proposal to vest greater powers in the Commonwealth Parliament"; He supported the assisted immigration program, which attempted to ensure that Australia's manpower crisis that occurred near the end of the war would not occur again, ended the half century long adherence to the White Australia Policy. Chifley implemented the Snowy Mountains Scheme, which provided a virtually unlimited source of power to the populous eastern coast of Australia. Coal miners faced Chifley in opposition to this plan, reminiscent of his striking days. Chifley lost power in 1949 after attempting to nationalize the banks. In opposition, he resisted Menzies' attempt to ban the Communist Party of Australia in 1951. Shortly after another Labor election defeat, Ben Chifley died after a heart attack while in Canberra during 1951.

ww2dbaseSources: D. Day, Chifley, The National Archives of Australia, J. Beaumont, Australia's War: 1939-45.

Last Major Revision: Sep 2008

Ben Chifley Interactive Map

Ben Chifley Timeline

22 Sep 1885 Ben Chifley was born.
13 Jun 1951 Ben Chifley passed away.


Portrait of Ben Chifley, circa 1930sPrime Minister John Curtin and his ministry, Government House, Canberra, Australia, 1941Members of the Commonwealth War Cabinet meeting in the War Cabinet Room, 1st Floor A Block New Wing, Victoria Barracks, Melbourne, Australia, 10 Nov 1943; L to R: Curtin, Sheddon, Chifley, Makin, Drakeford, and DedmanBen Chifley, Herbert Evatt, and Clement Attlee at the Dominion and British Leaders Conference, London, England, United Kingdom, 1946
See all 10 photographs of Ben Chifley

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Portrait of Ben Chifley, circa 1930s
See all 10 photographs of Ben Chifley

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