Frank Hyett remembered for his sporting and political contributions

Frank Hyett and family in 1916
Contributed by Glen

Frank Hyett was a political activist and a sportsman of note in Melbourne, during the early twentieth century.

Sportsmen who reach the higher levels of their chosen sport tend to be rare, when it comes those who are also active in left wing politics in Australia.

His sporting claim to fame was as a cricketer for the Victorian Sheffield Shield team in the early 20th century. As keeper-batsman he played 3 games, and in his 4 innings, scored 129 runs, at an average of 43.00, with a top score of 108 not out. He also played VFA football for Brunswick.

Away from the sporting arena, he was prominent. Firstly, in the Victorian Socialist Party (VSP), of which he was a deputy secretary. The VSP saw itself as a competitor to the Australian Labour Party ALP in the early decades of the twentieth century.

However, inspired by people like Tom Mann, and Federal ALP Parliamentarian Frank Anstey, he joined the ALP. In 1911 he helped form the Victorian Railways Union, and became its General Secretary. This union was the forerunner of what is now the Rail, Bus and Tram Union. He was involved in the Victorian Trades Hall Council, and played an active role in the mighty struggles opposing conscription during the First World War.

Unfortunately, he had a short life. He was born on 9 February 1882 at Bolwarra near Ballarat, and was one of many who perished in the influenza outbreak following the end of the war. On Anzac Day 1919, he passed away aged only 37, leaving a wife, and 3 young children.

In recognition of his work, back in the 1960’s, the building housing the railways union was named Frank Hyett house.


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