24. Alexander McCallum (1877-1937), bookbinder, unionist and politician
Alexander McCallum was born in Adelaide. He started work as an apprentice bookbinder before coming to the WA Government Printing Office. He became a vigorous union advocate and a skilled arbiter. He played an important role on the wharf on 4 May 1919 – a day known as “Bloody Sunday” when Tom Edwards (see Location 6) was killed. McCallum is credited with organising a truce between unions and the police and preventing an absolute bloodbath.
As general secretary of the Australian Labor Party, McCallum demonstrated considerable political power. He used his influence to bring John Curtin to Perth as editor of the Westralian Worker to save the young firebrand from the destructive influences of Victorian politics.
McCallum won the state seat of South Fremantle in 1921 and held a number of portfolios in the Collier Government. In 1933 he was Deputy Premier and the following year became Acting Premier. He produced important programs of public works and steered through changes to labour legislation. He also carried through the Town Planning Act (1928).