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Monday, 26 May 1997
Page: 3950

Mr ANDERSON (Minister for Primary Industries and Energy)(2.07 p.m.) —I rise to support this motion of condolence on the death of Sir William John Aston, a former Speaker of this House, as you have heard, from 1967 to 1973, and a former Government Whip for periods varying from 1959, including the years 1964 to 1967.

Although he was a member for an urban Sydney seat, he did take a close and abiding interest in regional Australia. Indeed, in his first contribution in this place, his maiden speech, he made mention of the vital contribution to the national economy of wool and wheat exports and reflected on their role in improving this nation's balance of payments performance.

He raised, as the Prime Minister (Mr Howard) has referred to, the need for an improved approach to industrial relations. In terms of the concerns of the day he spoke of the need for an arbitration and industrial system which would contribute in a fair and just way to surmounting what he saw as the nation's economic difficulties at the time.

He vigorously opposed the stirring up of racial hatred. He warned against isolationism as a nation in the advent of modern times and modern science. He urged Australians to cherish their heritage, their country and their democracy. As an accountant by training, and with a distinguished wartime service record, Sir William Aston contributed much to this parliament and to the Australian nation.

We can, as he suggests, be very proud of our national heritage and we would do well to meet the challenges that Sir William Aston lay before us: to be a nation which shows global leadership; to be a nation giving a lead in the trade of commodities and services; to be a nation tolerant of the views of others while proud of our own heritage; and to be a nation committed to peace, stability and democracy. I join with the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Beazley) in expressing condolences on behalf of the National Party and this parliament to his family.