An extraordinary man , Adair Macalister Blain , will be the subject of a talk by Earl James at the Northern Territory Archives Centre , Darwin , on March 6 . With a surname of Blain, it was only natural that he was nicknamed "Chill".
He played a large part in opening up the Territory , surveying the Granites goldfield, leading a 1933 expedition into western Arnhem Land to the head of the Liverpool River to report on agricultural and pastoral possibilities , becoming the independent member for the Northern Territory in the House of Representatives in 1934 , beating the incumbent, union chief Harold Nelson .
A veteran of two world wars, he spent three and half years as a Japanese POW after the fall of Singapore in a number of notorious prison camps , reelected to parliament during his incarceration . On returning to politics after the war , the Labor Party claimed he had used his parliamentary gold pass to gain special privileges in the Japanese camps. This attack rebounded as it was revealed Blain had knocked out gold fillings from his teeth to bribe guards to get special concessions and treatment for sick and injured comrades .
His record run of five consecutive terms as an independent politician came to an end in the 1949 election when Jock Nelson , Harold's son, with the strong help of Jim Bowditch , the then president of the Alice Springs ALP branch, later the crusading editor of the Northern Territory News, in Darwin . Bowditch, now a neglected mere footnote in the Territory story , said Nelson , sincere and likeable, was not a great public speaker .
To overcome this , during the election campaign , Bowditch, big on oratory , would write a powerful speech and deliver it on Jock's behalf , saying the hard working candidate was out bush on the campaign trail .
In one of his last speeches in parliament, Blain charged that young Jock Nelson , the ALP candidate, was backed by the Northern Standard in Darwin, which he said was run by communists, " a treasonous paper".
He called for a Secret Service Branch to be opened in Darwin and said "agents of Russia " could do a lot of harm to Port Darwin . (An interesting comment , all those years ago , when you consider the recent bizarre act of handing over the port to Chinese interests .)
Parliament was told he had drawn up a list of 83 known communists in Darwin , some on the government payroll . There were another 23 people whose names had "not been listed publicly".
When this writer went through the Blain papers in Darwin it was interesting to see he had used his position as a politician to promote Territory produce , a dinner down south resulted in cartoon like sketches of Aborigines and Top End tucker , which might now be regarded as politically incorrect .