Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Arthur Ernest Graham (1876–1938)

by Denise K. Conroy

This article was published:

Arthur Ernest James Charles King Graham (1876-1938), public servant, was born on 19 June 1876 at Wagga Wagga, New South Wales, son of James Graham, publican, and his wife Mary Ann, née King. Ernest (as he was known) was educated at the Bega Public School and Grammar School and passed the public service examination, but instead of entering the service he took up dairy production. After private study he became butter and cheese maker in 1893 at the N.S.W. Creamery Butter Co.'s Bega factory and manager of the Wandella cheese factory in 1894. Two years later he was appointed manager of the cheese factory at Mogilla. In 1894-1903 he worked at the company's Cobargo butter and cheese factory, as manager from 1899. Employed as a judge of dairy produce at agricultural shows in the Bega district from 1900, from 1903 he leased a Tilba Tilba farm where he milked 130 cows as well as another 56 at Cobargo. On 21 November 1900, at Cobargo, he married Annie Ellen Engstrom.

Graham moved to Queensland in 1906. Dairy instructor at the Queensland Agricultural College, Gatton, for one year, he then became manager of the Queensland Farmers' Co-operative Co. Ltd at Booval for eighteen months prior to his appointment on 1 November 1908 as dairy expert in the Department of Agriculture and Stock. Chief dairy expert from October 1915, he became director of dairying and cold storage in September 1922 and then under secretary for agriculture and stock in January 1925. In addition, he was director of marketing from March 1930.

Graham's most notable work in the department was the framing of the Margarine Act of 1910 and of the Dairy Produce Act of 1920 which was designed mainly to regulate the industry in the interests of public health. Much legislation in Australia and overseas, particularly in the provinces of the Union of South Africa, has been based on this Act. He was keenly interested too in the pooling of commodities under the Primary Producers Organization and Marketing Acts, supervising closely the necessary machinery. As permanent head he represented the State government on numerous extra-departmental bodies such as the Australian Agricultural Council and the State committee for the British Empire Exhibition of 1924. He attended every annual conference of ministers of agriculture from 1913 till his death. A board member of the faculty of agriculture of the University of Queensland, he published numerous articles in the Queensland Agricultural Journal and elsewhere on aspects of rural production. With a background of practical experience which inspired confidence among farmers, he was closely connected with Lewis Richard Macgregor in the formulation and promulgation of the State's orderly marketing legislation which enshrined the principle of grower control. The legislation was widely copied.

Graham was an omnivorous reader and something of an authority on English and classical literature. He died in office on 1 May 1938 of cerebro-vascular disease after several years ill health. Survived by his wife, eight daughters and three sons, he was buried in Bulimba cemetery after a service in St John's Anglican Cathedral.

Select Bibliography

  • Government Gazette (Queensland), 29 July, 12 Aug 1922, 6 Dec 1924, 19 Apr 1930
  • Queensland Agricultural Journal, Jan 1925, p 7, May 1938, p 510
  • Queensland Producer, 4 May 1938, p 6
  • Daily Mail (Brisbane), 19, 20 Mar 1930
  • Daily Standard, 19 Mar 1930
  • Brisbane Courier, 19, 20 Mar, 6 Dec 1930
  • Courier Mail (Brisbane), 2 May 1938
  • Telegraph (Brisbane), 4 May 1938
  • personnel file, Dept of Public Service Board, and Dept of Primary Industries (Queensland State Archives).

Citation details

Denise K. Conroy, 'Graham, Arthur Ernest (1876–1938)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1983, accessed online 18 May 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 9, (Melbourne University Press), 1983

View the front pages for Volume 9

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


19 June, 1876
Wagga Wagga, New South Wales, Australia


1 May, 1938 (aged 61)
Brisbane, Queensland, 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.