Story: Ideas in New Zealand

Bob Semple addressing strikers in Auckland

Bob Semple addressing strikers in Auckland

In November 1911, when this photo was taken, Bob Semple was the organiser for the Federation of Labour. He had come to New Zealand from Australia in 1903 or 1904, began working in mines and became a union leader. Semple believed in industrial unionism and the class struggle, and on this basis helped establish the Federation of Labour in 1908. The federation rejected the arbitration system, and 'fighting Bob' Semple with his energetic oratory was a highly effective spokesman for the socialist cause. In later years he became a Labour member of Parliament and a cabinet minister in the 1935–49 Labour government. By then his ideological position was more moderate, and he became known for his pamphlet Why I fight communism.

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Auckland City Libraries - Tāmaki Pātaka Kōrero, Sir George Grey Special Collections
Reference: 7-A10138

Permission of Auckland City Libraries Tāmaki Pātaka Kōrero must be obtained before any re-use of this image.

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How to cite this page:

Jock Phillips, 'Ideas in New Zealand - Socialism', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 4 December 2021)

Story by Jock Phillips, published 22 Oct 2014