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Monday, 2 June 2003
Page: 15692

Mrs DE-ANNE KELLY (9:24 PM) —I rise tonight to speak of one of the community leaders in my electorate of Dawson. Len Hansen lives in Mackay. He was a volunteer soldier who enlisted in 1939 and served with the AIF from May 1940 until the end of the war in the Pacific in 1945. He served in North Africa—in Libya, Tobruk and El Alamein. He was one of the group that has been recorded for posterity in the many histories written of World War II—he was one of the famous `Rats of Tobruk'. He also saw service in the New Guinea campaign—at Lae and Finchafen, on the Huon Peninsula and in Borneo. He retired from the Army with the rank of Major, which he still holds on the Retired List.

Len followed a business career until his eventual retirement in 1981. Through all of these years he has retained a close relationship with his community. He made valuable contributions to Scouting, the Red Cross, the Institute of Management, the Army Reserve and Rotary. In 1998 he received a multiple Paul Harris fellowship from Rotary International and the President's Award from the Australian Society of Certified Practising Accountants.

Len remained extremely active in the local community after his retirement, particularly in relation to the Army. He has only recently retired as Chairman of the Mackay branch of the Australia Defence Association, a position he held for many years. Along with Councillor Don Rolls of the Mackay City Council, he raised significant funding to build a lasting memorial in Mackay to commemorate the heroic achievements of the Rats of Tobruk. I am pleased that the Commonwealth made a major contribution to this very worthy cause. This monument now stands in memory of the gallantry of the Rats.

In 1985 Len assumed the chairmanship of the Mackay branch of the Australian National Flag Association, a position he has only recently relinquished. His support for the existing Australian flag never wavered in the nearly 20 years he held this position. He has, for many years, organised an Australian National Flag Association stall at the annual Mackay show. He also runs stalls at the major shopping centres on ANZAC Day and Remembrance Day. Len organises a flag raising ceremony each year to honour National Flag Day. I believe that, thanks to Len's efforts, the Mackay branch is the most active branch of ANFA in Australia.

Len Hansen is an avowed constitutional monarchist and a proud supporter of our system of government. He organised his own television campaign in regional Queensland in support of the no vote in the constitutional referendum in 1999. Certainly, the republican proposition put in that referendum was overwhelmingly rejected by voters in regional Queensland. As the local leader of the Australian National Flag Association, which is a non-political, non-sectarian organization that relies wholly on volunteers, he has done a remarkable job.

I take this opportunity to thank Len Hansen for his efforts on behalf of the Mackay community and wish him well in his retirement. Having said that, I think most of us in Mackay cannot imagine that Len will ever actually retire and take it easy, such is his commitment to his community and the various causes he has espoused over so many years. Len, thank you on behalf of Mackay. We are deeply grateful for your contribution to the community.

Question agreed to.