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Drake-Brockman, Edmund Alfred (1884–1949)

Edmund Drake-Brockman, by George Bell, n.d.

Edmund Drake-Brockman, by George Bell, n.d.

Australian War Memorial, ART00096

Edmund Alfred Drake-Brockman, Chief Judge of the Federal Arbitration Court, died at his home in Badaginnie (Victoria) late last night, aged 65 years. He had been ill for a long time.

His death was announced at 2 a.m. today from Canberra by the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley), who said: "On behalf of the Government I wish to express sincere sympathy to the relatives. The Government is deeply mindful of his long painstaking and very valued services to the community as Chief Judge of the Arbitration Court." Mr. Chifley also sent the following telegram to Mrs. Gebhardt, one of the late judge's daughters: "Your late father's service to Australia as a soldier and as a legislator and during later years as a member of the judiciary will be gratefully remembered."

This afternoon, after a service conducted by the Anglican Archbishop of Melbourne (Dr. Booth), the remains of the late judge were cremated at the Springvale crematorium. The casket was covered with a Union Jack.

A decision not to hold a State funeral for the late Judge Drake-Brockman had been made at the special request of his family, a Government spokesman said in Canberra today.

As a tribute to Judge Drake Brockman the Full Arbitration Court, which is hearing the basic wage case, adjourned today.

Tributes to the late judge were paid by members of the Bench and advocates in the case.

Acting Chief Judge Kelly said that few Australians had served their country with greater distinction in so many spheres than the late Chief Judge.

The president of the Australasian Council of Trade Unions (Mr. P. J. Clarey) said that Judge Drake-Brockman had been a very great figure in the industrial history of the Commonwealth and would be sorely missed.

The Federal Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) said in Canberra tonight: "I greatly regret to hear of the death of the Chief Judge. In the armed forces, in Parliament and on the industrial Bench he had a long distinguished record of service to Australia."

The Premier (Mr. McLarty) said in Perth yesterday that the late Judge Drake-Brockman had been a distinguished member of a well-known West Australian family. He had had a distinguished war record and had rendered valuable service to Australia during his long association with the Commonwealth Arbitration Court, he said.

Judge Edmund Alfred Drake Brockman was born at Busselton, in 1884. His father, the late Mr. Frederick Slade Drake Brockman, of the State Survey Department, eventually became Surveyor-General. His mother, at the age of 16 years, achieved empire fame as one of the rescuers of passengers and crew of the steamer Georgette, which was wrecked on the south-west coast.

Educated at the Guildford Grammar School, Judge Drake Brockman studied law and for a short time practised in Perth as a member of the legal firm of Henning and Brockman. On the outbreak of war in 1914, being a volunteer officer he was called up for service and went overseas with the 11th Battalion of the first A.I.F. He served on Gallipoli and, as commander of the 16th Battalion, in France, where he was severely wounded. Before hostilities ceased he had reached the rank of brigadier-general. Six times mentioned in dispatches, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Order and the Order of Danillo.

Judge Drake-Brockman entered politics in 1919 as a Nationalist member of the Senate and was for five years the Government Whip in that chamber. In 1925 he represented Australia in the League of Nations Assembly. In 1926 he resigned his seat in the Senate to make possible the coalition of his party with the Country Party. The late Senator E. B. Johnston was elected to the vacancy.

After two years in private legal practice in Melbourne, Judge Drake-Brockman was appointed to the Federal Arbitration Court.

Between wars, despite the volume of work thrown on the Arbitration Court, the judge retained active association with the army as General Officer Commanding the 4th Division. On the outbreak of war in 1939, the judge surrendered his salary of £2,500 a year to be a full-time major-general on £1,200 a year.

Only a threatened national coal strike led to his recall to the Bench, where his unique knowledge of the mining industry was urgently required.

In 1946 he became Acting Chief Judge and, in 1947, Chief Judge upon the retirement of Judge Piper.

The late Judge Drake-Brockman was predeceased by his wife, the daughter of the late Mr. and Mrs. W. Andrews, of Hawthorn, Victoria. He left a son, and two daughters, of whom one daughter, Mrs. D. McTaggart, resides in this State.

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'Drake-Brockman, Edmund Alfred (1884–1949)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/drake-brockman-edmund-alfred-6014/text24565, accessed 21 November 2017.

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