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Ludwig was born in Queensland in 1927 and was educated at Marist College in the Brisbane suburb of Ashgrove. He began his working life as a shearer and remained in the pastoral industry until 1971 when he became an employee of the AWU.
In 1982 Ludwig was elected as the South Western District Secretary of the AWU in Queensland, a position he held until he was elected as the Secretary of the state branch in Queensland in 1988.
Ludwig is head of the powerful Labor Forum or AWU Faction which dominates the Queensland branch of the Australian Labor Party. Ludwig is a member of the ALP National Executive and Vice President of the ALP's Queensland Branch. His son Joe Ludwig is an ALP Senator from Queensland and was Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry and Minister Assisting on Queensland Flood Recovery 
- Walker, Jamie (16 April 2011). "Bill Ludwig unloads on Kevin Rudd". The Australian.
- "Labor's shadow men stuck knife into Rudd". 24 June 2010.
- [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joe_Ludwig until he resigned from the Cabinet following the June 2013 leadership spill after supporting Julia Gillard. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joe_Ludwig until he resigned from the Cabinet following the June 2013 leadership spill after supporting Julia Gillard.] Missing or empty
- Profile on the AWU National Website