Thomas Crawford (Australian politician)

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Thomas Crawford
Thomas Crawford (Australian politician).JPG
Senator for Queensland
In office
1 July 1917 30 June 1947
Personal details
Born(1865-01-31)31 January 1865
Collingwood, Victoria
Died8 June 1948(1948-06-08) (aged 83)
Indooroopilly, Queensland
Nationality Australian
Political party Nationalist (191731)
UAP (193144)
Independent (194447)
OccupationSugar cane farmer

Thomas William Crawford (31 January 1865 8 June 1948) was a long-serving member of the Australian Senate and joint Father of the Senate.

Australian Senate upper house of the Australian Parliament

The Senate is the upper house of the bicameral Parliament of Australia, the lower house being the Australian House of Representatives. The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Chapter I of the Constitution of Australia. There are a total of 76 Senators: 12 are elected from each of the six Australian states regardless of population and 2 from each of the two autonomous internal Australian territories. Senators are popularly elected under the single transferable vote system of proportional representation.


Early life

Born in Collingwood, Melbourne, Crawford was raised on a Gippsland farm before working as a printer on several newspapers, including the Brisbane Courier-Mail. He became involved in trade union issues and became President of the Queensland Typographical Association in 1892, as well as a delegate to the Australian Labour Federation.

Collingwood, Victoria Suburb of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Collingwood is an inner-city suburb of Melbourne, Australia, 3 km north-east of Melbourne's central business district. Its local government area is the City of Yarra. At the 2016 Australian Census, Collingwood had a population of 8,513.

Melbourne City in Victoria, Australia

Melbourne is the capital and most populous city of the Australian state of Victoria, and the second most populous city in Australia and Oceania. Its name refers to an urban agglomeration of 9,992.5 km2 (3,858.1 sq mi), comprising a metropolitan area with 31 municipalities, and is also the common name for its city centre. The city occupies much of the coastline of Port Phillip bay and spreads into the hinterlands towards the Dandenong and Macedon ranges, Mornington Peninsula and Yarra Valley. It has a population of approximately 5 million, and its inhabitants are referred to as "Melburnians".

Gippsland Region in Victoria, Australia

Gippsland is an economic rural region of Victoria, Australia, located in the south-eastern part of that state. It covers an area of 41,556 square kilometres (16,045 sq mi), and lies to the east of the eastern suburbs of Greater Melbourne, to the north of Bass Strait, to the west of the Tasman Sea, to the south of the Black-Allan Line that marks part of the Victorian/New South Wales border, and to the east and southeast of the Great Dividing Range that lies within the Hume region and the Victorian Alps. Gippsland is generally broken down into the East Gippsland, South Gippsland, West Gippsland, and the Latrobe Valley statistical divisions.

Sugar grower

In 1895 Crawford moved to the country, purchasing land near Mossman, Queensland and becoming a successful sugar cane grower. He became Chairman of the Mossman Sugar Mill and heavily involved in sugar issues, including the use of Melanesian labourers on sugar plantations. His stature within the sugar growing community was such that he was elected President of the powerful Queensland Sugar Producers Association in 1909 (a position he held until 1943) and as a member of the Douglas Shire Council.

Mossman, Queensland Town in Queensland, Australia

Mossman is a town and a locality in Far North Queensland, Australia, on the Mossman River. It is within the local government area of Shire of Douglas. In the 2016 census, Mossman had a population of 1,937 people.

Political career

Crawford unsuccessfully stood for parliament firstly in 1910 as a Commonwealth Liberal Party candidate for the Division of Herbert and then as a Senate candidate at the 1914 election before his election to the Senate in 1917 as a representative of the Nationalist Party of Australia.

1910 Australian federal election

Federal elections were held in Australia on 13 April 1910. All 75 seats in the House of Representatives, and 18 of the 36 seats in the Senate were up for election. The incumbent Commonwealth Liberal Party led by Prime Minister Alfred Deakin was defeated by the opposition Labour Party, led by Andrew Fisher.

The Commonwealth Liberal Party was a political movement active in Australia from 1909 to 1917, shortly after Federation. The CLP came about as a result of a merger between the two non-Labor parties, the Protectionist Party and the Anti-Socialist Party which most of their MPs accepted. The CLP is the earliest direct ancestor of the current Liberal Party of Australia.

Division of Herbert Australian federal electoral division

The Division of Herbert is an Australian electoral division in the state of Queensland. Eligible voters within the Division elect a single representative, known as the member for Herbert, to the Australian House of Representatives. The division was proclaimed in 1900, and was one of the original 65 divisions to be contested at the first federal election. It is located in northern Queensland, and is named after Sir Robert Herbert, the first Premier of Queensland (1859–1866). It has always been based around the city of Townsville.

Crawford retained his seat at subsequent elections until his retirement in June 1947. From 1931, he was a member of the United Australia Party. From 1 July 1938 until their retirements on 30 June 1947, he and Harry Foll were the joint Fathers of the Senate. In 1944 he was asked to leave the Opposition party room and served the remainder of his term as an independent.

United Australia Party former Australian political party (1931-1945)

The United Australia Party (UAP) was an Australian political party that was founded in 1931 and dissolved in 1945. The party won four federal elections in that time, usually governing in coalition with the Country Party. It provided two Prime Ministers of Australia – Joseph Lyons (1932–1939) and Robert Menzies (1939–1941).

Harry Foll Australian politician

Hattil Spencer "Harry" Foll was an Australian politician who served as a Senator for Queensland from 1917 to 1947, representing the Nationalist Party, United Australia Party, and Liberal Party at various points. He served as a government minister under Joseph Lyons, Earle Page, Robert Menzies, and Arthur Fadden.

An independent or nonpartisan politician is an individual politician not affiliated with any political party. There are numerous reasons why someone may stand for office as an independent.

Respected for his authority on sugar issues, an important industry in Australia at the time, Crawford served as honorary minister and acting minister for trade and customs in the Stanley Bruce government. He was also at times a strong advocate for statehood for the Australian tropics.

Stanley Bruce Australian politician, eighth Prime Minister of Australia

Stanley Melbourne Bruce, 1st Viscount Bruce of Melbourne, was the 8th Prime Minister of Australia, in office from 1923 to 1929. He made wide-ranging reforms and mounted a comprehensive nation-building program in government, but his controversial handling of industrial relations led to a dramatic defeat at the polls in 1929. Bruce later pursued a long and influential diplomatic career as High Commissioner to the United Kingdom (1933–1945) and chairman of the Food and Agriculture Organization (1946–1951).


Crawford died at Indooroopilly, survived by his wife Emily, four daughters and three sons. His funeral was held at the Albert Street Methodist Church and proceeded to the Mount Thompson crematorium. [1] His son William Crawford was awarded the Military Medal for bravery in the field.

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  1. "Family Notices". The Courier-Mail . Brisbane. 10 June 1948. p. 6. Retrieved 25 July 2015 via National Library of Australia.