Barbara Cross

Interviewed by
Sue Yarrow
May 14 2012
Barbara Cross
Time Summary Keywords

Sue Yarrow introduces Barbara Cross and Manfred Cross and summarises their activities and the recognition of their achievements.


Barbara Cross discusses joining the Ithaca Women's branch of the ALP in 1957 where she could take her young child along. She relates that she subsequently also joined Rainworth Branch in 1958, when the new rule stipulated a member could only belong to one branch.


Barbara Cross describes how the women in Ithaca branch were great activists intent on fund raising, intense policy debates and advocacy for the party with no representation on the ALP Queensland Central Executive (QCE).


Barbara Cross discusses her nomination seeking support to stand as an ALP Convention delegate and the poor reception she received from Trades Hall, including Jack Egerton. 

Jack Egerton, sexism, Trades Hall Group, women

Manfred Cross speaks about the influence of the unions on the ALP, relating that in the early days the AWU faction controlled the party including William Forgan-Smith. He remembers Ned Hanlon from the Australian Railways Union (ARU) as the first non-AWU, ALP leader. Manfred and Barbara discuss Jack Egerton.

AWU, Jack Egerton, Trades Hall Group

Manfred Cross discusses the Trades and Labor Council Executive including Jack Devereux, Frank Waters, Archie Dawson, and the AWU, ARU and ETU officials.

AWU, ETU, Mickey Spillall, Neal Kane, Trades and Labor Council

Barbara Cross points out that she wanted to see positive changes for women in the ALP but the branches were given little encouragement and women were still looked upon as tea ladies. Manfred Cross states that in those days, it was a man's world.

sexism, sexual discrimination, women

Barbara Cross and Manfred Cross discuss events occurring through the late 1960s and 1970s including Peace Movement rallies and speeches but note that the ALP did not play a leading role in the protest groups at that time. Manfred Cross discusses actively supporting Indigenous Queenslanders' rights including the formation of the Queensland Aboriginals Advancement League whose first chair was John Camp, and the formation of the Queensland Council for the Advancement of Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders whose leader was Kathy Walker from Stradbroke Island.

Indigenous issues, John Camp, Kath Walker, Stradbroke Island, Vietnam War

Manfred Cross discusses Kathy Walker's leadership style.

Indigenous issues, Kath Walker

Manfred Cross and Barbara Cross discuss the ALP's lack of support for Aboriginal issues in those days with the exception of individuals such as George Pont, the AWU District Secretary Far North Queensland. Manfred Cross relates that he and others started the Queensland Council for the Advancement of Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders, visiting Canberra to progress these issues with support from Gordon Bryant, the ALP member for Wills in Victoria.

AWU, Indigenous issues

Manfred Cross and Barbara Cross remember that new people joined the ALP at the time of Whitlam's campaign but many THG members didn't like educated people coming in to the ALP.  Manfred Cross makes the point that Alex Macdonald when he was TLC Secretary, was very supportive on Aboriginal issues and provided money to Manfred to assist North Queensland Aboriginal people to attend ALP conferences. He recalls other unions also provided financial support, including Joe McGinnis, a watersider from Cairns.

Alex Macdonald, Indigenous issues, Trades and Labor Council, Trades Hall Group, unions, Waterside Workers Federation

Barbara Cross recalls that ALP branch people were not in factions in the early 1970s which were always the union left (Trades Hall aligned) and the right (AWU aligned). She states that reform was needed because the ALP couldn't win elections without getting the best candidates up.

AWU, factions, Trades Hall Group

Barbara Cross recounts how the unions had votes in ALP plebiscites and the role of Lizzie Bryant and later Joy Guyatt on the QCE.

Joy Guyatt, sexism, women

Barbara Cross and Manfred Cross discuss Denis Murphy's changing attitude to the ALP reform push and the impetus from Bob Lord, Herb Schnitzerling, Judith Bell and Pat Comben.

Denis Murphy, Pat Comben, Tom Burns

Barbara Cross and Manfred Cross recall the plebiscites for the 1977 federal election, the controversy surrounding Denis Murphy and Barbara Cross's work during the 1977 election campaign advising dissenters to wait until the election was over.

Denis Murphy

Manfred Cross and Barbara Cross discuss joining the Executive of the ALP Reform Group which met immediately after the December 1977 federal electoral defeat, members including Kev Hooper, Terry Mackenroth, Rob Whiddon, Madeline McPherson, Lyn Gasteen, Judith Bell, Peter Beattie, Pat Comben, Di Fingleton, Denis Murphy and Mike Reynolds.

Denis Murphy, Di Fingleton, Kevin Hooper, Madeline McPherson, Mike Reynolds, Pat Comben, Peter Beattie, Rob Whiddon, Terry Mackenroth

Barbara Cross and Manfred Cross consider the major concerns of the ALP Reform Group.

Bill Hayden, Denis Murphy

Barbara Cross relates how the ALP Reform Group mobilised members and the role of Judith Bell, Pat Comben and Di Fingleton.

Bill Hayden, Di Fingleton, Pat Comben

Barbara Cross and Manfred Cross discuss critical points in the move towards ALP intervention and precursors to the February 1979 Rockhampton ALP Conference.

Denis Murphy, Madeline McPherson, Rockhampton

Manfred Cross and Barbara Cross discuss the public attacks by Neal Kane from the ETU on Bill Hayden.

Bill Hayden, ETU, Neal Kane

Barbara Cross and Manfred Cross recount events at the February 1979 Rockhampton ALP Conference.

Bill Hayden, Denis Murphy, George Georges, Rockhampton

Barbara Cross and Manfred Cross discuss the next tipping point on the road to ALP intervention involving the charges against George Georges, Joe Harris and Peter Beattie.

George Georges, Joe Harris, Peter Beattie

Manfred Cross recalls events when ALP intervention occurred and his own role.

Bill Pincus, Clem Jones, Denis Murphy, Ian Brusasco, Pat Keane

Barbara Cross and Manfred Cross discuss the causes of ALP intervention including more involvement of both branch members and women.

Joy Guyatt, Trades Hall Group, unions, women

Barbara Cross and Manfred Cross reflect on the level of interstate support for ALP intervention in Queensland and the actions of Bob McMullan and Bob Hogg.

Bob McMullan

Manfred Cross reflects upon the threatened splits to the ALP.

Doug Everingham, Ed Casey

Barbara Cross and Manfred Cross discuss the election of Peter Beattie as ALP Secretary.

Ian Henderson, Ian McLean, Peter Beattie, Rob Whiddon

Barbara Cross discusses emerging factional alliances in the ALP.


Barbara Cross and Manfred Cross discuss the main ALP factional differences.


Barbara Cross discusses the return of the AWU and the consolidation of the ALP factions.

AWU, factions

Barbara Cross and Manfred Cross discuss the importance of the ALP intervention in returning the ALP to power at both state and federal levels but discuss the current poor attendance at branch meetings.


Barbara Cross discusses events at the ALP Electoral Colleges of 1977 and 1983. Manfred Cross reflects on Bert Milliner and Jack Schmella.

Bert Milliner, Len Keogh

Barbara Cross and Manfred Cross reflect on their time as ALP party activists.


Interview ends. Listen also to the interview with Manfred Cross.