Percy Brookfield

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Percy Brookfield
Percy Brookfield.gif
Percy Brookfield in 1915
Member of the New South Wales Parliament
for Sturt
In office
3 February 1917 – 22 March 1921
Serving with Mat Davidson (1920-1921)
Brian Doe (1920-1921)
Preceded by John Cann
Succeeded by Jabez Wright
Personal details
Born Percival Stanley Brookfield
(1875-08-07)7 August 1875
Wavertree, Lancashire
Died 22 March 1921(1921-03-22) (aged 45)
Adelaide, South Australia
Resting place Broken Hill Cemetery
Political party Australian Labor Party
Other political
Industrial Socialist Labor Party
Occupation Miner

Percival Stanley Brookfield (7 August 1875 – 22 March 1921) was an Australian politician and militant trade unionist. He was variously known as Percival Jack Brookfield or Jack Brookfield, a member of the New South Wales Legislative Assembly from 1917 until his violent death in 1921. In parliament he was a member of the Australian Labor Party (ALP) until July 1919 and then joined the Industrial Socialist Labor Party.

Early life[edit]

Brookfield was born in Wavertree, Lancashire, England, the son of a local grocer Cuthbert Brookfield and Jane Brookfield (née Peers) and after an elementary education went to sea at age 13. After spending about 6 years at sea working on various merchant ships, at his request he was discharged from his service on the vessel "Godiva", with an endorsement of good conduct, in Port Melbourne in 1894. He was a swagman and prospector in New South Wales and Queensland but had settled in Broken Hill by 1910. He became an official of the Amalgamated Miners' Association and led the Broken Hill campaign against the introduction of conscription. He was gaoled and reportedly fined ₤700 as a result of his anti-conscription activities.

State Politics[edit]

In February 1917 he won ALP pre-selection for a by-election in the seat of Sturt. The by-election had been caused by the resignation of the previous member John Cann who had accepted the position of Railways Commissioner. Brookfield won the seat with 54% of the primary vote and increased this to 57% at the general election that was held one month later. In parliament he became a leading left-wing advocate and expressed sympathy for the Industrial Workers of the World and the Bolshevik Revolution. His radicalism led him into conflict with the rest of the ALP caucus and he resigned from it in July 1919. He was not readmitted to the party when he attempted to retract his resignation.

Industrial Socialist Labor Party[edit]

At the March 1920 state elections Brookfield contested the seat of Sturt for the Industrial Socialist Labor Party and, under the multi-member proportional representation system then used, he was the first candidate elected with 27% of the primary vote. Following the election he held the balance of power in the assembly. He supported the Labor government of John Storey and used his position to improve industrial conditions for Broken Hill miners and to overturn the convictions of Australian IWW members gaoled in 1916.


Brookfield died as a result of wounds received when trying to disarm a deranged Russian emigree named Koorman Tomayoff at the Riverton railway station, in South Australia on 22 March 1921. It has been claimed that Brookfield was the only Australian politician murdered prior to the death of John Newman in 1994—although another member of the Legislative Assembly, Thomas John Ley probably murdered fellow member Hyman Goldstein in 1927. There is no evidence of a political motive in Brookfield's death.


Parliament of New South Wales
Preceded by
John Cann
Member for Sturt
Succeeded by
Jabez Wright