Faces of Tamworth: politician, soldier William Adolphus Chaffey

FAMILY TRADITION: Bill Chaffey continued his father's legacy of political service to Tamworth. Photo: Parliament of NSW

FAMILY TRADITION: Bill Chaffey continued his father's legacy of political service to Tamworth. Photo: Parliament of NSW

William Adolphus Chaffey, better known as Bill Chaffey, was a farmer and politician who won his father’s place as Tamworth MP after the former died.

Mr Chaffey contested his seat on behalf of the United Australia Party, in a by-election in 1940.

He represented the electorate until 1973, also holding the portfolio of NSW agriculture minister for three years towards the end.

Combined, father and son represented the electorate for more than 59 years. 

Chaffey Dam north of Tamworth is named after both of them. 

Born on February 18, 1915, Mr Chaffey was one of six children to Frank Augustus Chaffey and wife Amy Stella Chaffey (née McIlveen). 

He went to Tamworth Public School and The King’s School, Parramatta, then Hawkesbury Agricultural College. 

After working on farms then buying his own, Mr Chaffey entered politics through family tragedy.

Twists and turns

His political career went through a few twists after that.

When he didn’t gain the UAP’s pre-selection at the next election, he ran as an independent and won the seat again in 1941 and 1944.

From 1947 to 1972, he was a member of the Country Party, but when things went sour with that party, he saw out his term as an independent.

Mr Chaffey was deputy leader of the Country Party from 1959 to 1968, and the state ag minister from 1965 to 1968.

Military career

Mr Chaffey was also a distinguished soldier.

As a member of the Australian Imperial Force in the early to mid-’40s, he served in Papua, New Guinea, Indochina and Borneo, spending some of those years in a special unit that operated covertly behind enemy lines.

Mr Chaffey won the American Bronze Star Medal in 1948 and was mentioned in despatches twice. He rose to the rank of major.

Mr Chaffey married Patricia Ann Egerton-Warburton in 1946; they had two daughters and son.

He died in March of 1987 at Tamworth and was cremated. 

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