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Felt Akubra hat worn by Ben Chifley

Felt Akubra hat worn by Ben Chifley

Object type
Akubra hats

Object number
1986.0041.0001

Description
A felt Akubra hat with brim and crown in "squatter" style. The crown is encircled with a silk band of bronze-brown hue. To the left and right the crown bears a pattern of puncture marks forming two six-pointed stars.

Collection name
MJ Brown collection

Collection statement of significance
The M J Brown collection contains five objects related to former Australian Prime Minister, Joseph Benedict (Ben) Chifley (1885-1951). The collection includes a felt "squatter" style Akubra gardening hat, hexagonal wooden smoking pipe bowl, smoking pipe mouthpiece, State Express tobacco tin and detachable paper lining for tobacco tin. The items were donated for inclusion in the National Historical Collection by Queensland amateur historian, Mr Michael John Brown, who presented them to Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser at Lennon's Hotel, Brisbane, on 5th June, 1980.

Ben Chifley, Australia's 16th Prime Minister, and one of Australia's best-known leaders, was born in Bathurst, NSW. Though his early years were ones of hardship, he went on to become Australia’s youngest first-class locomotive driver, union delegate and worker's advocate. Elected to Parliament in 1928, he became Prime Minister following John Curtin's death in July 1945. Chifley's achievements include establishing the Snowy Mountains Scheme, the founding of ASIO, the Australian National University and Australia's post-war immigration program, the establishment of Trans-Australian Airways (TAA), as well as key social reforms including the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, the first Commonwealth-State Housing Agreement and the Commonwealth Employment Service. Chifley led the Federal Parliamentary Labor Party till his death in 1951,and remains an icon of the Australian Labor Party. The objects in this collection are a record of Chifley as most people knew him - a humble and "unpretentious" man, and an "average Australian bloke". Biographical sources reveal that Chifley seldom used his ministerial car, preferring instead to walk, and knew most staff by their first names. According to an interview with Chifley and his wife Elizabeth, conducted by the Australian Women's Weekly in 1945, gardening was among Chifley's favourite hobbies, although his duties in Canberra rarely allowed time for this activity, nor for relaxing with his trademark pipe and newspaper by the fire at his Bathurst home.

Maker
Akubra Hats Pty Ltd

Wearer
Mr Joseph B. Chifley

Associated organisation
Australian Labor Party

Materials
Fur felt

Dimensions
Width: 304mm
Height: 135mm
Depth: 335mm



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