Accessibility Links

Pig Iron Bob (The Dalfram Dispute)

1h 20m History, Documentary 2016

On November 15th 1938, 180 men on the Port Kembla Wharf south of Sydney voted against loading one ship, the Dalfram and so created Australian history.

The men knew pig iron – a type of steel ‐ from Port Kembla was being turned into bullets and bombs as Japan continued the invasion South, having captured the capital of China, Nanjing with ferocious brutality killing of hundreds of thousands of civilians. The men and their families believed Australia would be next with the bullets bound to return ‐ and for 11 weeks despite Government and industry pressure they could not be persuaded to load the ship. Attorney General at the time, Bob Menzies who became Australia’s longest serving Prime Minister, was given the nickname Pig Iron Bob during the dispute and it lasted his lifetime.

JUDGES’ COMMENTS ‐ NSW Premier’s History Awards Finalist 2015 This film covers an episode in Australian history overlooked for far too long: the efforts by striking waterfront workers in Wollongong to stop the shipping of pig iron to imperialist Japan in the late 1930s. Framing the story with the figures of Trade Union leader Ted Roach and then Attorney General Robert Menzies, the film brings to life not only the clash of ideas between their two worldviews, but provides a window onto the fraught politics of late 1930s Australia. Drawing on a wide range of views from historians and commentators, as well as the daughters of Roach and Menzies, the film is a well- balanced and finely crafted account of this dramatic episode in Australian political culture. Perhaps the film’s greatest success is the connection made between the local and the international. Against the backdrop of the rise of Japanese militarism and Tokyo’s invasion of Manchuria, the film shows the energising effect of these events on the consciences of the Waterfront workers at Port Kembla. It shows, too, their desire to not only have their voice heard but to shape the foreign policy of the nation on the cusp of the Second World War.


Sandra Pires


Joanna Jordan


Sandra Pires


Sandra Pires

Director of Photography

Javier Valledor


Judy Stubbs






Why Documentaries

Download the app to view your purchased content!