Mackie was born in 1914 in New Zealand as Eugene Murphy. He gained a criminal record in a number of countries under various aliases. Eventually he went to work as a miner for Mount Isa Mines.
Mackie's pseudonym came from a misprint on his payslips when he first began work in the mines, which he attempted to have corrected. However the company kept producing cheques and payslips in the name of "Mackie", and ultimately he adopted the name.
Mount Isa Mines strike
The dispute which led to the Mount Isa Mines Strike of 1964 involved numerous issues of pay and conditions and lasted an unprecedented 32 weeks.
Mackie was a member of the Australian Workers' Union (AWU) and became the de facto leader of the strike. While it was AWU policy to resolve the dispute through arbitration before the Industrial Relations Commission, he pursued direct militant action and insisted on an enterprise agreement with the company. As a consequence the AWU expelled him from the union, which allowed the company to terminate his employment. The dispute was prolonged by the insistence of strikers that he be reinstated, a demand that was never met.
After the dispute, Mackie was banned from Mount Isa Mines, and the government unsuccessfully tried to have him deported to New Zealand.
Mackie was the subject of intense media speculation at the time of the dispute, and became an iconic figure in Australia. As he wore a baseball cap of the Boston Red Sox, and spoke with an apparent American accent, he was often portrayed as an "American gangster" and foreign communist. Mackie lived for a time on the Mineside and later lived on Buckley Avenue, Parkside near the Mount Isa State High School. He also drove a Willy's Jeep. Sometimes he was accused of deliberately weakening Australia to help an invasion by communist China, and his criminal record was constantly mentioned.
Mackie successfully sued a newspaper owned by Australia media mogul Frank Packer in the early 1970s for defamation. He won damages totalling $30,000. A third was awarded for misrepresenting his criminal record, while the remainder was awarded for misrepresenting his involvement in the dispute.
Pat Mackie died on 19 November 2009, aged 95.
- Experiment in Inclusion by Rosemary Sorensen, The Australian 30 July 2007.
- Mount Isa - The Story of a Dispute by Pat Mackie & Elizabeth Vassilieff, Hudson Publishing. Hawthorn (Vic) 1989.
- Many Ships to Mount Isa - Autobiography by Pat Mackie & Elizabeth Vassilieff Wolf, Seaview Press, Henley Beach (SA) 2002.