Vince Dobinson

Interviewed by
Chris Salisbury and India Anderson
Jan 28 2014
Vince Dobinson
Time Summary Keywords

Vince Dobinson discusses his upbringing in England and his family's migration to Australia.


Vince Dobinson recounts an experience regarding his father struggling to find employment and secure a job. He discusses his school education and his first job.

Darra, work experience

Vince Dobinson speaks about his family history with the union movement, discussing his fathers role as an Australian Workers Union delegate.


Vince Dobinson describes his entry to the union movement, joining the Builders Labourers Federation (BLF) while working at the University of Queensland in April 1952. He talks about his career progression in the union, describing how he became a delegate and then an organiser in 1962.

BLF, Jim Delaney, Ted Farrell, University of Queensland

Vince Dobinson discusses how he became Secretary of the BLF in 1972, winning the position by only one vote. He talks about becoming the Federal Delegate in 1973 and Federal President in 1974.


Vince Dobinson speaks about the working conditions during his early career as a builders labourer.

construction industry, workplace safety

Vince Dobinson comments on the working conditions during his early career, describing the inconsistencies among workplaces.

construction industry, University of Queensland, workplace safety

Vince Dobinson explains the effects of the Second World War on unionisation in the construction industry. He describes various jobs he worked at throughout the war and comments on the effects of compulsory unionism.

brickfields, compulsory unionism, construction industry, Darra, union membership, unions, World War II

Vince Dobinson recounts working for the Brisbane Telegraph and their style of unionisation at the time.


Vince Dobinson discusses joining the AWU, and how he initially refused to join the union. He describes refusing to pay dues.

AWU, brickfields, compulsory unionism, Darra

Vince Dobinson comments on how his father greatly influenced his decisions within the union movement. He comments on introducing a No Ticket No Start policy within the BLF.

BLF, compulsory unionism

Vince Dobinson discusses a demarcation dispute between the AWU and the BLF in North Queensland over the Hay Point coal terminal approach trestle in 1970. He comments on his role in the case.

AWU, BLF, demarcation disputes, Federated Iron Workers Union, Hay Point, Jim Delaney, North Queensland, Ted Farrell, Transport Workers Union

Vince Dobinson describes raising the union membership to almost 100% after No Ticket No Start was effectively introduced in 1975.

BLF, compulsory unionism, construction industry

Vince Dobinson describes the Federal BLFs reaction to the actions of the New South Wales Branch following their activity in the early 1970s.


Vince Dobinson comments on Federal Secretary Norm Gallagher, criticising his leadership style and discussing his alleged corruption that led to the union's deregistration nationally.

BLF, corruption, Norm Gallagher

Vince Dobinson reflects on Norm Gallagher's attempts to interfere with the Queensland branch actions.

BLF, Norm Gallagher

Vince Dobinson recounts how Joh Bjelke-Petersen applauded him in parliament for his leadership of the Queensland branch of the BLF in the wake of the deregistration of the Southern branches. He discusses Gallagher's interference with the branch as well as a march protesting safety conditions on the Suncorp building during construction.

BLF, construction industry, Joh Bjelke-Petersen, Norm Gallagher, protest, Suncorp Metway, workplace safety

Vince Dobinson explains various roles within the building industry, including that of dogmen.

BLF, construction industry, workplace safety

Vince Dobinson discusses his role throughout green bans in the early 1970s, recounting an experience during the Bellevue Hotel demolition.

Bellevue Hotel, BLF, green bans

Vince Dobinson talks about the BLF's involvement in the Northern Freeway ban, and discusses the BWIU and Huey Hamilton's contributions.

BLF, Brisbane, BWIU, Communist Party, green bans, Hugh Hamilton, Northern Freeway

Vince Dobinson describes his personal opinions against communism and discusses tensions within the branch among communists and non-communists.

BLF, Communism, Communist Party

Vince Dobinson comments on dissent among the communist majority and the communist minority within the Queensland branch of the BLF. He comments on BLF member Vince Englart, a prominent communist.

BLF, Communism, Vince Englart

Vince Dobinson reflects on his time as President of the Queensland Building Trades Group and describes working closely at the time with the BWIU.

BWIU, Plumbers Union

Vince Dobinson speaks about the failed prospects of the BWIU and the BLF amalgamating.

BLF, BWIU, CFMEU, union amalgamation

Vince Dobinson discusses working as both President of the Federal Australian Builders Labourers Federation and the Secretary of the Queensland branch.

BLF, Norm Gallagher, Ron Owen

Vince Dobinson describes his experiences as President of the BLF around the time the the Federal Branch was deregistered. He describes saving the Queensland branch from deregistration as well as the branch's relationship with the State Government during the 1980s.

BLF, corruption, Joh Bjelke-Petersen, Llew Edwards, Norm Gallagher, superannuation legislation

Vince Dobinson discusses his role throughout the SEQEB protests.

BLF, Hugh Hamilton, SEQEB dispute

Vince Dobinson reflects on the Queensland branch of the BLF's relationship with the Trades and Labour Council, reflecting on his time as a delegate.

BLF, compulsory unionism, Fred Whitby, Trades and Labor Council

Vince Dobinson discusses the BLF's relationship with the Master Builders Association.

BLF, BWIU, construction industry, John Pidgeon

Vince Dobinson describes the establishment of superannuation and negotiation between the BLF and the Master Builders Association. He explains the initial implementation of Rostered Days Off.

BLF, BUSSQ, superannuation legislation

Vince Dobinson talks about his greatest personal achievements as a trade unionist. He discusses the origins of the Builders Labourers Federation and shows off his belt which has the BLF logo in the form of a Eureka Stockade flag.

BLF, BUSSQ, superannuation legislation

Vince Dobinson comments on the decline of union membership within the BLF and the broader trade union movement.

BLF, compulsory unionism, declining union membership

Interview ends