Bill Grayden

Captain William Leonard Grayden AM (born Wilbur Ives, 5 August 1920) is a former Australian politician.

Bill Grayden

Bill Grayden MP.jpg
Member of the Australian House of Representatives for Swan
In office
10 December 1949 – 29 May 1954
Preceded byLen Hamilton
Succeeded byHarry Webb
Member of the Western Australian Legislative Assembly
In office
15 March 1947 – 10 December 1949
Preceded byJames Hegney
Succeeded byJames Hegney
ConstituencyMiddle Swan
In office
7 April 1956 – 6 February 1993
Preceded byGeorge Yates
Succeeded byPhillip Pendal
ConstituencySouth Perth
Personal details
Wilbur Ives

(1920-08-05) 5 August 1920 (age 100)
Bickley, Western Australia
Political partyLiberal Party of Australia
Betsy Marie Chadwick
(m. 1948; died 2007)
RelationsNat Harper (grandfather) David Grayden (brother)
Children5 sons and 5 daughters
ResidenceSouth Perth, Western Australia
ProfessionMechanical engineer
Military career
Allegiance Australia
Service/branchSecond Australian Imperial Force
Years of service1940–1946
Service numberWX8868
Unit2/16th Battalion
Battles/warsSecond World War
AwardsMember of the Order of Australia

Early lifeEdit

Grayden was born Wilbur Ives[1] on 5 August 1920 in Bickley, Western Australia. He was one of three children born to Ethel May Harper and Aubrey Leonard Ives, including his younger brother David who also entered politics.[1][2] Grayden's father participated in the landing at Anzac Cove on 25 April 1915, and lost a lung after being shot by a Turkish sniper. The marriage broke up and his mother gave the children their step-father's surname after she remarried.[1] Grayden is the maternal grandson of Western Australian businessman and politician Nat Harper.[3]

Grayden was educated at state schools and then at Perth Technical College, as part of an apprenticeship commenced in 1938 as a motor mechanic with Winterbottom Motors.[4] He attempted to enlist in the Australian Army when the Second World War broke out in September 1939, but was rejected. He succeeded the following year after lying about his age. Grayden joined the 2/16th Infantry Battalion as a private, but was soon promoted to corporal and then selected to attend Officer Training School in Bonegilla. He served on the Syrian campaign and then in 1942 was sent to New Guinea, where he took part in the Kokoda Track campaign, the Battle of Buna–Gona, and the Markham and Ramu Valley campaign. He ended the war in Borneo and took part in the Battle of Balikpapan.[1]


Grayden served a total of 43 years in State and Federal Parliament.[4][3]

State and federal politics: 1946–1954Edit

Grayden stood as an independent in the Division of Swan at the 1946 federal election. At the 1947 Western Australian state election, he was elected to the Legislative Assembly as the Liberal member for Middle Swan. He was the youngest member of the parliament.[4]

At the 1949 federal election, Grayden transferred to the Australian House of Representatives, winning the seat of Swan for the Liberals. He held the seat until his defeat in 1954.

State politics: 1956–1993Edit

In 1956 he returned to the Legislative Assembly, winning the seat of South Perth.[4][3]

In 1956 he led an enquiry into the state of the Aboriginal people. The resulting report by the select committee was tabled in the Western Australian Parliament in December 1956, officially called the Report of the Select Committee appointed to Enquire into Native Welfare Conditions in the Laverton-Warburton Range Area, also known as the Grayden Report. It brought to public consciousness the dreadful plight of many of the nomadic Wongi peoples, and after newspaper publicity the affair developed into what became known as the Warburton Ranges controversy, leading to much public discussion, lobbying of both federal and state governments, and Indigenous activism. The latter contributed to a national movement campaigning for the rights of Indigenous Australians, including the formation of what is now known as Federal Council for the Advancement of Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders (FCAATSI).[5]

He served as a minister in a number of capacities: Labour and Industry 1974–1978; Consumer Affairs 1974–1978; Immigration and Tourism 1974–1975; and Education, Cultural Affairs and Recreation 1978–1982. Grayden left the Assembly in 1993.[4][3]


Along with George Pearce, Grayden is the earliest elected MP still alive,[6] and one of only two living "Forty-Niner" MPs.

At 98 years old, he recited the ode of remembrance at round 6 of the 2019 AFL season.[7]


  1. ^ a b c d Hunter, Claire (8 August 2018). "Mateship meant everything". Australian War Memorial. Retrieved 15 June 2019.
  2. ^ "William Leonard Grayden". Parliament of Western Australia. Retrieved 15 June 2019.
  3. ^ a b c d Carr, Adam (2008). "Australian Election Archive". Psephos, Adam Carr's Election Archive. Archived from the original on 23 July 2008. Retrieved 1 August 2008.
  4. ^ a b c d e Grayden, Bill (1989). "Hon Bill Grayden AM" (PDF). Perth, WA: Parliament of Western Australia. Retrieved 4 October 2016.
  5. ^ "Warburton Ranges controversy, 1957". National Museum of Australia. 26 November 2018. Retrieved 29 November 2020.
  6. ^ Malcolm Farnsworth (2020). "Living Former Members Of The House Of Representatives (1949-1972)".
  7. ^ 98 year old William 'Bill' Grayden recites the Ode (Nat Fyfe shows respect) Round 6 2019
Parliament of Australia
Preceded by
Len Hamilton
Member for Swan
Succeeded by
Harry Webb
Western Australian Legislative Assembly
Preceded by
James Hegney
Member for Middle Swan
Succeeded by
James Hegney
Preceded by
George Yates
Member for South Perth
Succeeded by
Phillip Pendal