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McGrath, David Charles (1872–1934)

David McGrath, Fairfax Corporation, c.1931 [detail]

David McGrath, Fairfax Corporation, c.1931 [detail]

National Library of Australia, 51774090

Mr. D. C. [David Charles] McGrath, M.P., died at 12.55 a.m. to-day after a long illness.

Mr. McGrath in 1904 was elected as member for Grenville in the Victorian Assembly, and in 1913 as Federal representative for Ballarat. Born at Newtown in 1872, he moved with his parents, who were general storekeepers, to Allendale, and he was educated, with the late Sir A. J. Peacock, at Fiddian's Boys' College, Creswick. As a young man he was associated with movements for the betterment of miners' conditions. This work he carried on when the family removed to Pitfield Plains in 1900, and he was a founder of the Hollybush Social Democratic Club, which became an active political force of the day. In 1904 he won the Grenville seat, and retained it until Mr. Deakin's retirement from the Ballarat Federal seat left the way open to him to enter the Federal sphere. He contested the seat as Labor candidate against Mr. H. V. McKay, and effected a surprise victory, but the 1914 majority was very convincing. It was during his first year in the House of Representatives that he came into conflict with Speaker Johnson, and, refusing to apologise, he was suspended for the remainder of the session.

In 1916 Mr. McGrath joined tho A.I.F. He became a warrant officer, and was stationed at Horseferry-road. He was re-elected member for Ballarat in absentia in 1917, and in April, 1918, was invalided home medically unfit. The 1920 election was a crucial test, and his opponent, Mr. E. T. J. Kerby, another returned man, won by a narrow majority, but the election was upset on the ground of irregularities, and Mr. McGrath won the ensuing election by a satisfactory majority. When the Scullin Government assumed power in 1920 he was chosen as Chairman of Committees and Deputy Speaker.

Mr. McGrath's part in the more recent political upheaval which saw the split in the Labor party, and his adherence to Mr. Lyons in the breakaway from the Labor organisation, are well remembered. In his younger days he was a member of the South Ballarat Football Club, and was regarded as one of the finest rovers seen on the Ballarat oyals. He also achieved success as a cricketer, runner and cyclist. He leaves a widow and grown-up family.

(The above appeared in portion of yesterday's issue.)

Flags were flown at half-mast throughout the city to-day. Messages of condolence were received by Mrs. McGrath and her family from all parts of Australia, including those from the Prime Minister and the late member's Parliamentary colleagues on both sides of the House.

The funeral will he held to-morrow afternoon. A message from Canberra expressed the Prime Minister's regret that he was unable to come to Ballarat for the funeral, but that Mr. A. Guy would represent the Federal Government.

At a meeting of Ballarat branch of the U.A.P. this afternoon a motion expressing regret at the death of Mr. McGrath was carried.

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Citation details

'McGrath, David Charles (1872–1934)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/mcgrath-david-charles-7361/text38503, accessed 27 November 2020.

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