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Frank Roland McGrath (1921–2022)

This article was published:

Frank McGrath, 1983 [detail]

Frank McGrath, 1983 [detail]

Wollongong City Library

Frank Roland McGrath (1921-2022) trade union official, barrister and Compensation Court chief commissioner

Birth: 30 December 1921 at Birkenhead, Cheshire, England, son of James McGrath, shipwright, and Mary, née Broadfield, a tailoress who was a talented soprano. Marriage: 1944 at Sydney to Amy Gladys Cumpston (1921-2019), poet, playwright and novelist. They had four daughters. Death: 14 April 2022 at Sydney. Buried with Anglican rites. 

  • Came to Sydney with his family in 1924. Attended Canterbury Boys’ High School. Enrolled at University of Sydney.
  • Called up for full-time duty, he enlisted in the Australian Military Forces on 21 October 1941. Served in the 110th Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment. Discharged on 23 March 1942.
  • Graduated BA (Hons in History and University Medal), MA and LLB.
  • While an undergraduate became a waterside worker, he led a strike in 1945 against the leadership of his union, the Federated Ironworkers’ Association, to oust Communist influence. Secretary of the Balmain branch of the FIA in 1945.
  • Became a barrister. Assisted in exposing rigging of 1949 elections for position of national secretary of FIA, which led to an arbitration court decision to install Laurie Short. Soon after McGrath and his partner Cecil O’Dea’s firm were secured by Jim McClelland as the FIA’s lawyers, with access to fees from workers compensation cases.
  • Became a commissioner and then chairman of the NSW Workers Compensation Court. Retired in 1993.
  • Appointed OBE in 1977 and OM in 1991.

Hall Greenland, Red Hot: the Life and Times of Nick Origlass; 1908-1996 (Sydney 1998), pp 303-304; Sydney Morning Herald, 20 April 1995, p 4.

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'McGrath, Frank Roland (1921–2022)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 17 June 2024.

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