16. Montague David “Monty” Miller (1839-1920), trade unionist, together with his son and wife buried in this previously unmarked grave
Montague David Miller, known as Monty, was born at Clarendon, Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania) in 1839. He went to Victoria where he worked as a gold digger and was celebrated as a veteran of the Eureka Stockade. A carpenter, Miller was an active trade unionist and advocate for the rights of working people.
Miller moved to Perth around 1897 and was soon prominent in labour circles as a militant unionist, and a founder of the Labor Church and the Social Democratic Federation.
Disillusioned with the Labor Party, for which he had earlier worked, he embraced the principles of the Industrial Workers of the World – industrial unionism and direct action in the class struggle, advocating for the ‘establishment of an Industrial Commonwealth founded on collective ownership of land and capital’.
He was tried as a member of the I.W.W. in Perth in 1916 and found guilty of conspiracy for his anti-conscription activities, but was released.
He continued his court-room defiance outside, touring Australia condemning the war, and the next year in Sydney was again sentenced to jail for his membership of an illegal organisation and was again released, because of his age. The bitter divisions of World War I had brought him into greatest prominence at the end of his life. He died in Perth on 17 November 1920.
John Curtin, Australian Prime Minister 1941–1945, said of him, “I know of no man who has done more for the labour movement than Monty Miller”.
It is understood Monty had said that the family grave should remain unmarked and so it did until February 2009. Considering the role he played in the labour movement over many years however, the Australian Society for the Study of Labour History, the National Trust of WA and Monty’s descendants arranged for a modest plaque to be placed at the foot of the grave bearing only the names and dates of those buried there.
A Memorial to Monty Miller has been placed in Garden Bed W, plots 0016 & 0017 at the rear of Serenity Gardens at Karrakatta Cemetery.