Skip navigation

UCD Search


UCD Australian Studies Centre

Ionad Léann na hAstráile UCD

Keith Cameron

Keith Addison Cameron (1902-67) was a distinguished Australian mining engineer and company director. Educated at Wesley College and the University of Melbourne (B.M.E., 1928) he was employed as a surveyor and mining engineer at Mount Lyell, Tasmania as well as mines in Canada and Alaska before joining Mount Isa Mines Ltd, Queensland. In July 1942, he joined North Broken Hill Ltd and become manager of the Broken Hill mine in July 1945. In December 1946 Prime Minister Ben Chifley and Premier William McKell appointed Cameron inaugaural chairman of the Joint Coal Board. Later he described this as a 'thankless, even heartbreaking' job: Cameron was expected to restructure the industry while simultaneously raising the living and working conditions of coalminers. In his first annual report, he wrote: "The industry by and large is shot through with a bitterness and antagonism between owners and men which derives from its ruthless history and which is not paralleled in any other industry." (SMH 16.12.49). This was prescient. In the wake of the bitter winter coal strike of June-August 1949 and the fall of the Chifley government in December, Cameron resigned as Chairman of the Coal Board in 1950 to becoming Managing Director of Mt Morgan. In 1955, he joined a group of Australian mining men and financiers to form Australia's first real mining investment house, Commonwealth Mining Investments Ltd. From 1956-62 he was Company Director for Mt Morgan Mines.

On his death in 1967, he was survived by his wife Peggy and two daughters, Susan and Sally. In a tribute, Jim Keast recalled; "He was always a man who, no matter what his position in life may be, was always the same decent citizen and good Australian and his passing has left a gap in our industry that is going to be very difficult to fill.

Through the marriage of his daughter Susan to Dr Tony O'Reilly, the family endowed the Keith Cameron chair of Australian History at UCD in 1985.

Sources:  Australian Dictionary of Biography , vol.13: 350-51; Family papers of Mrs Susan O'Reilly and Mrs S. Shuter.

Keith Cameron