Sir Jack Egerton
Australia Crest

Sir John Alfred Roy Egerton, aged 80, died at his Gold Coast home in December, 1998, after a long battle with cancer.

Sir Jack was the Australian Labor Party's only knight and took to his grave the secret of why he broke Labor tradition and accepted the honour, also taking with him to the grave the epithet of 'Labor Rat'. The honour was offered by Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser for service to the trade union movement but cost Egerton his ALP membership and earned him the title of 'Jumping Jack the Black Knight'.

Egerton was born in Emerald, Queensland in 1918 and started work as a boilermaker rising to become state secretary of the Queensland Boilermakers Union in 1943, president of the Queensland Trades and Labour Council by 1967 and then president of the ALP state executive, an executive of the ACTU and a member of the federal executive of the ALP - a helluva lot of Labor!

In the '50s he made an enemy in Labor premier Vince Gair and is believed to have played a main part in Gair being given the flick in 1957.

In the '70s he was Gough Whitlam's right-hand man in Queensland and had many clashes with conservative Premier Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen.

Despite his treatment by his comrades Egerton's staunch support for Labor Party ideals never waned although he was quick to criticise if he felt it necessary.

Jack Egerton, son of a boilermaker, received his knighthood from Governor General Sir John Kerr, son of a boilermaker.

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