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Monday, 25 October 2010
Page: 1409


Mrs PRENTICE (10:30 AM) —Sir James ‘Jim’ Killen was a politician beloved of both sides of politics—colourful, witty and erudite. He was a man who crossed political boundaries, a Liberal who included Labor greats like Fred Daly, Gough Whitlam and Barry Cohen among his close friends. So why then is a Labor councillor in Brisbane, Gail MacPherson, seeking to diminish his name by trying to prevent a small park in South Brisbane from being named in his honour? Is this the new Labor paradigm we have heard so much about, a paradigm where our history is rewritten or even erased and where mean-spirited gestures such as this are allowed to flourish?

The naming of a small reserve is surely a small enough gesture for a man who devoted his life to public service for his country. Jim Killen, formerly a jackaroo and a lawyer, was elected to the House of Representatives in the seat of Moreton in 1955. He was a talented orator. He was outspoken and he was committed. In 1961 his narrow majority enabled the Menzies government to be returned to power. He served in government as a minister for defence and he served in opposition until he resigned his seat in 1983. In 1982 he was made a Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George, becoming Sir James Killen KCMG, and was made a Companion of the Order of Australia in 2004.

Sir James Killen’s story can still inspire a new generation of politicians from both sides of the House. He understood the importance of the role of strong political parties in a democracy and rose above the minutiae and nitpicking we see today in the Labor Party in Brisbane. At Jim Killen’s funeral, Gough Whitlam had this to say about him:

Only last May I was able to report to Jim that I had just opened the new electorate office in Morningside for Kevin Rudd, who said that he learned a priceless lesson from Jim about how to nurse a marginal seat into a healthy majority. He visited a shopping centre in his electorate every Saturday morning. What Jim Killen had done in Moreton, Kevin Rudd decided to do in Griffith.

Lessons and inspiration from this man can obviously still cross political boundaries. At the beginning of this month Campbell Newman’s council in Brisbane decided to give recognition to Tom Burns, a former Labor Deputy Premier, and to Sir James Killen, both of whom were hardworking politicians and both of whom died in 2007, by renaming reserves in their honour. However, local Labor councillors last week, led by Councillor MacPherson, objected to the reserve being named after Sir James Killen. Interestingly they seem to have no objection to the naming of Tom Burns Place. Fortunately the vote was passed last week by 14 votes to 10 by the can-do Liberal council and Sir James’s memory will live on.

I would like to place on record my strong support for the naming of this reserve in the recognition of a great Australian and I trust this parliament will agree with me that there are some things that must rise above politics. The memory and political legacy of Sir James are such things. (Time expired)