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Brand, Sir William Alfred (1888–1979)

by Brian F. Stevenson

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 13, (MUP), 1993

William Alfred Brand (1888-1979), by unknown photographer

William Alfred Brand (1888-1979), by unknown photographer

National Archives of Australia, A1200:L21645

Sir William Alfred Brand (1888-1979), cane-grower and politician, was born on 22 August 1888 at Childers, Queensland, son of William Brand, a farmer from England, and his native-born wife Isabella, née Cocking. Having attended Apple Tree Creek State School, Alfred farmed the family cane-holdings at Huxley. On 22 May 1913 at Childers he married Myrtle Maud Kingston with Methodist forms.

In October 1920 Brand was elected to the Legislative Assembly for the seat of Burrum; after a redistribution, from June 1932 he represented Isis. A vigorous debater, he was renowned as a staunch, 'sonorous-voiced' advocate for primary industries, especially sugar. His effectiveness was limited by his spending all but three years (1929-32) of his State political career in Opposition. One of eighteen original members of the parliamentary Country Party, he was the leading spirit among four party members (including E. H. C. Clayton, W. A. Deacon and H. F. Walker) who declined to join the short-lived merger with the United Australia Party that formed the Country-National Party in April 1941. In the assembly the four sat apart from the shaky coalition until it collapsed. A reconciliation involving the parliamentary members, the Queensland Country Party and its Western Division saw the emergence of the Australian Country Party (Queensland), of which Brand was deputy parliamentary leader from 1944 until 1947. He retired from the assembly in April 1950, but in 1954 was persuaded to contest the Federal seat of Wide Bay (against the former prime minister Frank Forde) which Brand won and retained until he retired from parliament in December 1958.

Outside politics, his energies as a successful cane-grower were devoted to the sugar industry. A director (from 1939) of the Isis Central Sugar Mill Co. Ltd, he became chairman in 1940 and held this position for twenty-five years. For long an active member of the Australian Sugar Producers' Association, he was a vice-president in 1940 and its president from 1943. In his 1944 presidential address he described the sugar industry as 'maligned, misunderstood and misrepresented'. At the time of his accession the industry was at an ebb, its production having fallen to a sixteen-year low due to manpower shortages in wartime. Despite his political affiliations, in sugar matters Brand's competence was respected by his Labor opponents. In 1950 the urgent representations of the A.S.P.A. executive persuaded the ailing Labor premier E. M. Hanlon to travel to Britain—for the second time in little over a year—to negotiate a favourable sugar agreement. As A.S.P.A. leader, Brand presided over the postwar recovery and growth of the industry: Australian sugar production rose from half a million tons in 1943 to two million tons in 1964, the year of his retirement. Appointed C.B.E. in 1958, he was knighted in 1965.

Survived by his wife, son and two of his three daughters, Sir Alfred died on 26 October 1979 at Childers and was buried in Apple Tree Creek cemetery with Anglican rites.

Select Bibliography

  • C. Lack (compiler), Three Decades of Queensland Political History, 1929-1960 (Brisb, 1962)
  • U. Ellis, A History of the Australian Country Party (Melb, 1963)
  • Parliamentary Debates (Queensland), 31 Oct 1979, p 1541
  • Australian Sugar Year Book, 1944-45, 1952
  • Australian Sugar Journal, Nov 1979, p 351.

Citation details

Brian F. Stevenson, 'Brand, Sir William Alfred (1888–1979)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/brand-sir-william-alfred-9573/text16867, published first in hardcopy 1993, accessed online 20 November 2018.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 13, (MUP), 1993

View the front pages for Volume 13

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