Thomas Crawford (Australian politician)
|Senator for Queensland|
1 July 1917 – 30 June 1947
31 January 1865|
|Died||8 June 1948
|Political party||Nationalist (1917–31)
|Occupation||Sugar cane farmer|
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. His son William Crawford was awarded the Military Medal for bravery in the field.