Mervyn (Merv) James Callaghan was a founder and long-time stalwart of Police Credit Union (now QBank) and the Queensland and Australian credit union movements. He was a long term General Secretary of the Queensland Police Union as well as working with the police force which included lecturing and writing on law at the Police Training School. In fact, he authored four books on police and the law.

Callaghan was interviewed by oral historian Richard Raxworthy in 1991, the recording and transcript of which is in our collection. Here he is telling Raxworthy about the foundations of Police Credit Union:

I heard about Credit Unions in 1958. I was then secretary of the police depot branch of the Queensland Police Union.  At the time we had a number of branches at each of the various big establishments and being secretary of the depot branch I was appointed to attend a conference which was a training conference of the Queensland Police Union and part of the suggested agenda was about the establishment of a Credit Union. I had never heard of a Credit Union in those days and my branch decided it would be a good idea. There was a spokesman there who was promoting this idea. He had heard this from Godfrey Stevens and others in the ABC. At the time they had their own Credit Union running and this fellow put up such a very good case that it was adopted by my branch …

Nothing was done at all by the then secretary of the Queensland Police Union until 1961.  We had the next training conference and the establishment of a Credit Union was recommitted to the conference in 1961 and again was endorsed. Still again nothing was done until I had to do something about it after I became the general secretary of the union. I became general secretary of the union on the 1st July 1961 … I had to bring forward the inaugural meeting for the establishment of a Credit Union for police in Queensland which was held in my office at 269 Main Street Kangaroo Point at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday the 2nd July 1964.

It is a wonder that Callaghan’s family ever saw him because he was the inaugural Secretary of the Australian Federation of Credit Union Leagues (AFCUL) in 1966 and indeed went on to become Senior Vice President of AFCUL in 1970.  Perhaps though, his most significant credit union contribution outside of the Police CU was in the Queensland Credit Union League (QCUL).

Callaghan was President of QCUL from 1965-1968 and served on the Board for 10 years. He is credited with founding 10 credit unions in Queensland and was inducted into the “Gold Founders Club” by CUNA in the USA, a rare honour. He also edited and published Queensland Credit Union Magazine.

He was said to be a fine speaker and gave many speeches on credit union philosophy. Callaghan’s speeches included gems such as the following:

My advice to credit unions these days would be not to forget the fundamentals of credit union philosophy, namely that credit unions are people. This is not to say that with the demands of the business era of today that we don’t have to compete in the financial market place.

During the Commonwealth Games held in Brisbane in 1982, Mervyn James Callaghan received an AM from the Queen for his community work, and trade union and industrial development.

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