Sam Calder

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Sam Calder
Member of the Australian Parliament
for Northern Territory
In office
26 November 1966 – 19 September 1980
Preceded by Jock Nelson
Succeeded by Grant Tambling
Personal details
Born (1916-08-10)10 August 1916
Melbourne, Victoria
Died 30 September 2008(2008-09-30) (aged 92)
Darwin, Northern Territory
Nationality Australian
Political party Country (1966–74)
CLP (1974–80)
Occupation Pilot

Stephen Edward "Sam" Calder AM, OBE (10 August 1916 – 30 September 2008) was a decorated World War II flying ace, member of the Australian House of Representatives, and founder of the Northern Territory Country Liberal Party, one of the more successful political parties in Australia’s history.

Calder was born in Melbourne, Victoria and educated at Melbourne Grammar before joining the Royal Australian Air Force in 1932. Trained as a pilot, Calder flew Typhoon planes throughout World War II, completing 120 missions over Europe and receiving the Distinguished Flying Cross for his troubles.

Following the end of hostilities in 1945, Calder returned to Australia and worked as the chief pilot for Northern Territory-based airline Connellan Airways. The airline prospered as it provided a vast network of medical, passenger and mail services throughout the Northern Territory (NT), although it would eventually collapse following a decision by then NT Chief Minister Paul Everingham, a political opponent of Calder, to give competing airline Ansett Airlines the rights to the Darwin-Alice Springs route. Not content with this, Calder also took on the challenge of managing cattle stations the size of some European countries, as he attempted to wrest a profit from the barren soil of the Australian outback.

Calder's high profile in the NT led federal Country Party leader John McEwen to ask Sam to stand as a Country Party candidate at the forthcoming federal election. The Division of Northern Territory had long been in Labor Party hands but Calder was able to wrest the seat away, at first by only 400-odd votes in 1966, but extending that into thousands over the next decade and a half.

Calder played an active role in parliament, pushing for development in the NT, and could claim some of the credit for the construction of the Adelaide-Alice Springs train line and several new roads, and the NT being granted self-government, Senate representation, and the right to vote in national referendums. Following the granting of self-government in 1978, Calder founded the Country Liberal Party, which held government in the NT for over a quarter of a century.

Calder also had many ambitious plans which failed to see the light of day, including statehood for the NT and a nuclear power station in the NT, as well as a being a vocal opponent of Aboriginal land rights, believing that the then governing Labor Party had sold Australia to the Aboriginals.

Following his retirement from politics in 1980, Calder continued to fight the furthering of Aboriginal rights, arguing that they made Aboriginals lazy.

Calder died in Darwin late in the evening of 30 September 2008, aged 92.[1]


  1. ^ Bourchier, D. Northern Territory News, "PM rejects state funeral for NT hero", 2 October 2008.
Parliament of Australia
Preceded by
Jock Nelson
Member for Northern Territory
Succeeded by
Grant Tambling