George Robert Crawford was born on 13 January 1926 and died on 7 August 2012. He was elected to Parliament after 41 years membership of the Plumbers and Gasfitters Employees Union of Australia, and he spent 30 years as a full-time official of that union, holding the positions of both Victorian branch secretary and general secretary for over 20 years.
George was a giant of the labour movement. He joined the ALP in 1944 and quickly rose to become a member of the Victorian state executive. He held this role from 1960 to 1975 and also in 1979. He progressed through the ranks to become vice-president of the ALP from 1965 to 1969 and state president from 1969 to 1971, 1971 to 1973 and 1983 to 1985. He had been a delegate to the ALP’s national conference since 1965. George was elected to the Parliament of Victoria in the seat of Jika Jika on 2 March 1985. He held that seat until 2 October 1992.
George was a champion of the battler. He cared about the type of world our kids are growing up in. He was a peace movement activist and a champion of people’s civil liberties. It is instructive to reflect upon his inaugural speech to the Parliament. It gives us an insight into the type of man he was. He touched upon the dislocation suffered by indigenous Australians and their struggle for land rights, and he talked about decent workers compensation for those who have been injured, issues of occupational health and safety and the role he had played in the peace movement.
He was proud of his role in the struggle against the Vietnam War and was a vocal critic of the government’s ‘all the way with LBJ’ approach to foreign policy.
George was also proud to have been associated with the establishment of friendly relations with the People’s Republic of China, a fact that continues to underpin our Australian economy even today. George was a tireless campaigner against nuclear proliferation and the selling and processing of uranium.
George Robert Crawford was a man who genuinely made a mark on this world, and even for those who may have sometimes disagreed with him there was universal respect for the compassion and conviction he brought to the debate. Our condolences go to Peg, his wife, and the substantial Crawford family. Vale, George Crawford.