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Tuesday, 7 October 2003
Page: 20617

Mr HOWARD (Prime Minister) (2:03 PM) —Mr Speaker, may I have the indulgence of the House to say something about the death of David Gordon Kirkpatrick, better known as `Slim Dusty'?

The SPEAKER —Indulgence is granted.

Mr HOWARD —Much has already been said about this very dearly loved Australian. I know that his death has removed one of the iconic figures of modern Australia: somebody who was synonymous with the country or bush values of our society, somebody who reached out to Australians of different generations and somebody who established an enviable reputation as the father of what could be called the Australian version of country music.

Slim Dusty was born David Gordon Kirkpatrick on 13 June 1927 at Kempsey in New South Wales. He wrote his first song at the age of 10, and in 1942 he made his first recording, at his own expense. He signed his first recording contract in 1946, going on to record more than 100 albums in a career that spanned six decades. Along with his wife, Joy, whom he married in 1951, Slim Dusty launched his travelling Slim Dusty Show in 1954 and continued to tour for over 40 years. Famously, in 1957, he recorded A Pub With No Beer, which became the biggest selling record by an Australian at that time. It was the first international hit by an Australian and earned him Australia's first ever gold record. In 2000, he released his 100th music album, with the title song Looking Forward, Looking Back, which became a hit. He was widely recognised for his contribution to country music and to the Australian community. Over the years, he received 36 Golden Guitars from the Country Music Association of Australia, an organisation he helped to form, and of which he went on to become chairman and was later made an honorary president for life. He was inducted to the Country Music Roll of Renown. He received a special achievement award from the Australian Record Industry Association at the ARIA awards and induction into the ARIA Hall of Fame.

Slim Dusty's funeral service at St Andrew's Cathedral in Sydney was a wonderful celebration of a remarkable life. It was a wonderful tribute to a person who touched the hearts of so many Australians, and it was a wonderful reminder to all of us that there is nothing quite so endearing as that distinctive Australian character which Slim Dusty so finely epitomised. I know that Australians mourn his passing, and I know that all members of this House will wish to extend their sympathy to his wife, Joy, and to his son, daughter and grandchildren—a wonderfully close family who paid eloquent tribute to their father, husband and grandfather.