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Edmund Hudson (Ned) McGrath (1920–2000)

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Edmund Hudson (Ned) McGrath (1920-2000) public servant and trade union official

Birth: 1 September 1920 at Paddington, Sydney, New South Wales, son of native-born parents Joseph McGrath (1890-1954), telegraphist, and Trilby Lillian, née Brook (1895-1980). Marriage: 1943 at Annandale, Sydney, to Sydney-born Betty Ann Costello (1921-1987). They had three children. Death: 7 December 2000 at Canberra, Australian Capital Territory. 

  • Worked in the Tax Office, Sydney. Spent brief period in army during World War II and then returned to Tax Office due to illness. At same time studied for law degree and graduated in 1945.
  • Chief prosecutor for Tax Office, Sydney, about 1947 when aged 27 and reputedly the youngest person at the time to get the job. In anticipation of taking the position, a short time beforehand he had turned down an offer of become acting general secretary of the Commonwealth Public Service Clerical Association (later Administrative and Clerical Officers' Association).
  • Active member of NSW branch, Commonwealth Public Service Clerical Association after starting work in the Tax Office. NSW Branch president of union in 1951-1952. Later general president of clerical officers’ union.
  • Gifted orator. Strong supporter of Laurie Short in his fight against communist influence in Federated Ironworkers’ Association. In Tax Office he managed the Tax Agents' Registration Board in 1954 and the pay-as-you earn system from 1955 to 1958.
  • Joined Australian Labor Party at 16 years of age. Contested preselection for Federal seat of Werriwa in Western Sydney, but future prime minister, Gough Whitlam was selected.
  • Councillor on Fairfield Council for two years, deputy mayor for one of those years. Mayor for a year in 1954. Assistant secretary in charge of war service homes.
  • Housing Commissioner, Australian Capital Territory, in 1969, won position on “His idiosyncratic administration there, and in latter posts in what became the Department of the Capital Territory, became legendary . . . (F)orthright, argumentative, a larrikin, much given to settling business over a beer, and to studying the form guide (and acting on it), McGrath was in some senses a bureaucrat from the old school.”

Morning Herald, 27 December 2000.

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Citation details

'McGrath, Edmund Hudson (Ned) (1920–2000)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 18 July 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Life Summary [details]


1 September, 1920
Paddington, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia


10 December, 2000 (aged 80)
Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia

Religious Influence

Includes the religion in which subjects were raised, have chosen themselves, attendance at religious schools and/or religious funeral rites; Atheism and Agnosticism have been included.

Military Service
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