Bill Ratcliffe

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Wilfred Joseph "Bill" Ratcliffe (30 May 1880 – 25 March 1935) was an Australian politician. He was an Australian Labor Party member of the New South Wales Legislative Assembly from 1922 until 1932, representing the districts of Botany (1922–1927), Alexandria (1927–1930) and Barwon (1930–1932). He was Secretary of Public Works and Minister for Railways for four months in 1927, during the last months of the first Lang government.

Ratcliffe was born at Pyrmont, and was a tram driver before entering politics as a local alderman. He was an unsuccessful Labor candidate at the 1920 state election, when he was placed fifth and last on the Labor ticket for multi-member Botany. He again contested Botany in 1922 and was again placed fifth on the Labor list, but this time, campaigned for voters to ignore the official ticket and give him their first preference. The tactic was successful, and he was elected at the expense of fellow Labor MLA Simon Hickey; however, it earned him significant enmity within the Labor Party. He was expelled by the Labor executive in April and sat as an Independent Labor member, but was readmitted to the party in July.[1][2][3]

Ratcliffe was re-elected in 1925 when Labor won a majority under Jack Lang, and was promoted to the ministry in 1927, when Martin Flannery was dropped in a reshuffle. His ministerial career was cut short by Labor's defeat that year; however, he was re-elected as the member for Alexandria. The Alexandria seat was abolished in 1930, and Ratcliffe lost the preselection ballot for inner-city Redfern. The executive tried to find him another seat; after rumors he would run for Monaro, he was appointed candidate for the traditionally conservative rural seat of Barwon.[4][5] He won the seat, but suffered from ill health during his final term, and retired in 1932.[5] He died in 1935, and was buried in the Roman Catholic section of Rookwood Cemetery.[6][7][8]


  1. ^ "Expelled from the Labor Party". The Mercury. 1 April 1922. 
  2. ^ "Mr. Ratcliffe: Still a Labour man despite his expulsion". Sydney Morning Herald. 3 April 1922. 
  3. ^ "Mr. Ratcliffe, M.L.A.; Expulsion order rescinded". Sydney Morning Herald. 15 July 1922. 
  4. ^ "Monaro Seat; Labor ballot". Sydney Morning Herald. 27 June 1930. 
  5. ^ a b "Mr. W. J. Ratcliffe, ex-MLA". Sydney Morning Herald. 27 March 1935. 
  6. ^ Parliament of New South Wales (2009). "Mr Wilfred Joseph Ratcliffe". Former Members. Parliament of New South Wales. Retrieved 18 July 2010. 
  7. ^ Green, Antony (2007). "New South Wales Election Results 1856-2007". Parliament of New South Wales. Archived from the original on 25 June 2010. Retrieved 18 July 2010. 
  8. ^ Parliament of New South Wales (2009). "Chronological List of Ministries 1856 to 2009". Parliament of New South Wales. Retrieved 18 July 2010. 
Parliament of New South Wales
Preceded by
Simon Hickey
Member for Botany

1922 – 1927
Served alongside:
Mutch, Burke, McKell, Lee
Succeeded by
Thomas Morrow
Preceded by
Seat recreated
Member for Alexandria

1927 – 1930
Succeeded by
Seat abolished
Preceded by
Walter Wearne
Member for Barwon

1930 – 1932
Succeeded by
Ben Wade