The seventh annual Plumbing and Fire Industry Awards (PFIA) were held Friday 10 March 2023 at Crown Palladium.
Master Plumbers is saddened by the passing of industry stalwart and Past President of the Association, Graham White.
Graham was a valued and distinguished member of the plumbing fraternity and the Master Plumbers Association. Graham’s contribution to our industry and the Association earned him the respect of his peers and has forged a legacy that will remain for many years to come.
Following in his father Oliver’s footsteps, Graham became an apprentice to his father in 1947, embarking on a career in a profession that he held in high esteem.
To quote Graham from the Associations biography “The plumbing licence had to be earned - first there was a certificate of proficiency and then there was the oral exam with the Board of Works. But when you finally got it, it felt real beaut. It was like you had arrived!”
Graham’s passion for plumbing was evident from the outset, earning him the Master Plumbers Association scholarship in 1953 to send ‘the best plumbing student’ to America to experience plumbing methods overseas.
Selected on the basis of character, suitability to represent Australian plumbers and the ability to report back on plumbing abroad, the £500 scholarship funded Graham’s year-long trip to San Francisco, Denver and New York City, where he was employed as a Journeyman.
As well as growing his general confidence and life experience, Graham also gained many ideas about how to better organise and carry out work.
Referred to as ‘The rock of the Association’ by colleagues, Graham helped steer the Association through the tumultuous times including:
- The first ever national 24-hour strike in the union’s history when almost 20,000 plumbers across the country walked off the job in 1968; and
- The Association’s decision to break away from the Victorian Employees Federation (VEF) in 1970.
Graham became president of the Association in 1974-1975, where he helped the Association register as an employers’ body with the Australian Arbitration Commission and applied for a federal award.
“It was a very stressful time and there were some factions within the Association that weren’t real happy…It took nearly two years, and then all the negotiations afterwards to formulate the award, but we eventually got there. It was a watershed moment for the industry and set the Victorian Association on course to becoming the Federally Registered Body.”
Graham was awarded life Membership at the State Conference in Warrnambool in 1984, he was the Association’s Secretary at the time.
For those wishing to attend, a service commemorating Graham’s life will be held on Tuesday 3 December at 10am at Le Pine Funerals, 981 Bourke Road, Camberwell.