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Ben Chifley was an Australian politician who served as Prime Minister from 1945-1949. He was born in New South Wales, first joining the state railways at a young age, and gradually making his way into politics. He was elected to parliament in 1928, serving as Minister for Defence in 1931, Treasurer in the Curtin Government in 1941, and eventually becoming Prime Minister in 1945. After four years of an ambitious program of social reforms and nation-building schemes, Ben Chifley died on June 13, 1951.
See the fact file below for more information on the Ben Chifley or alternatively, you can download our 20-page Ben Chifley worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
EARLY LIFE OF BEN CHIFLEY
- Ben Chifley was born in Bathurst, New South Wales, on September 22, 1885, and was the eldest of three brothers.
- At age five, Chifley went to live with his grandfather, Patrick Chifley I in Limekilns, after his wife passed away.
- Chifley lived and worked on his grandfather’s farm as a potato-bagger and general worker until he was 13.
- His father visited occasionally, but he rarely saw his mother or brothers during that time.
- He attended a bush school with sporadic learning hours, which contributed to his lonely existence and desire to make friends. This loneliness and longing for friendship and affection would later contribute to his inability to display emotion or make deep connections.
- When he was 13, his grandfather died, so Chifley moved back to his parents’ house and went to school for a few more years there.
- He was an avid reader in school and had a thirst for knowledge. Chifley was also an avid rugby union player.
- Once he left school, Chifley began working as a cashier’s assistant in a general store, and then moved on to join the NSW Government Railways as a shop boy when he turned 17.
- His jobs over the next few years were random and included being a cleaner and fireman, then a locomotive driver. In fact, at the age of 24, he was the youngest first-class locomotive driver on the railways.
- While working for the railway, he drove both goods and passenger trains, and had an intimate technical understanding of the trains he drove and worked with.
- At the age of 27, Chifley became an advocate for the Locomotive Enginemen’s Association, a union he belonged to.
EARLY POLITICAL CAREER OF BEN CHIFLEY
- While in the Union, Chifley served as an organizer as well as a divisional delegate to conferences around the state and country. He was an excellent compromiser and negotiator who had good relations with the railway and union workers.
- Chifley married Elizabeth McKenzie in June of 1914, who would remain married to him until his death in 1951.
- In 1917, he was dismissed from the railway due to his involvement in the general strike but was re-registered a short time later as a cleaner.
- Once he decided to fight for unionists’ rights by entering parliament, Chifley thought it best to prepare by learning as much as he could about finance and economics.
- Chifley had always supported the Labor Party, and in 1921 he replaced his father on the board of a local newspaper that advocated for the party.
BEN CHIFLEY’S FORMATIVE POLITICAL CAREER
- He was chosen as the Labor candidate for the Division of Macquarie during the 1925 federal election but wasn’t elected. It wasn’t until 1928 that he won the seat, retaining it until 1929.
- James Scullin, the Prime Minister at the time, appointed Chifley his Minister of Defence in March of 1931.
- He lost his seat soon after, but regained it in 1940 and held it until 1951.
- During his years of federal politics, he also served as a member of the Royal Commission on Monetary and Banking Systems as well as the director of labor supply and administration for the Department of Supply.
- While Federal Treasurer under John Curtin’s government in 1941, he introduced strict control over the economy.
PRIME MINISTER BEN CHIFLEY
- Following John Curtin’s death, Chifley became Prime Minister of Australia on July 13, 1945.
- His government accomplished a lot with Chifley in charge. Some of his accomplishments were:
- Sponsored legislation governing the relationship between state and private banks and the federal government
- Nationalized Qantas (an Australian airline) and established Trans-Australia Airlines (a government-owned domestic airline)
- Government became a signatory to the charter that set up the United Nations
- Introduced the War Service Settlement Act
- Set up the Snowy Mountains Authority in 1949
- Reduced government debt and negotiated the settlement of the Lend-Lease scheme
- Set up the Banking and Commonwealth Acts of 1945
- Launched the first Holden car (Australia’s first locally-made car) in 1948
- Chifley was voted out of office in December 1949, following a long-running coal strike, his moderate attitude towards the Communist influence in the union movement, his unsuccessful attempt to nationalize private banks, as well as the continuation of wartime rationing control over gas.
- Chifley continued as leader of the Labor opposition in Parliament until his health began to decline in 1950 after a coronary occlusion.
- On June 13, 1951, he died on his way to hospital after a heart attack.
- Chifley has had many posthumous honors and dedications awarded to him including Chifley Tower and Square in Sydney.
Ben Chifley Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about Ben Chifley across 20 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Ben Chifley worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about Ben Chifley who was an Australian politician who served as Prime Minister from 1945-1949. He was born in New South Wales, first joining the state railways at a young age, and gradually making his way into politics. He was elected to parliament in 1928, serving as Minister for Defence in 1931, Treasurer in the Curtin Government in 1941, and eventually becoming Prime Minister in 1945. After four years of an ambitious program of social reforms and nation-building schemes, Ben Chifley died on June 13, 1951.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Chifley Government Schemes
- The Snowy Mountains Scheme
- Dear Mr. Chifley
- The Great Nationalization Question
- Ben Chifley Wordsearch
- Chifley Connections
- Timeline of Events
- Chifley Acrostic
- Quote Analysis
- Ben Chifley Crossword
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Link will appear as Ben Chifley Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, August 30, 2019
Use With Any Curriculum
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