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Tuesday, 16 April 1985
Page: 1019

Senator BUTTON (Leader of the Government in the Senate) —It is with deep regret that I inform the Senate of the death on 29 March 1985 of former Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson. I move:

That the Senate expresses its deep regret at the death, on 29 March 1985, of the Hon. Sir Kenneth McColl Anderson, KBE, Liberal Party Senator for the State of New South Wales from 1953 to 1975, former Minister of the Crown from 1964 to 1972 and Leader of the Government in the Senate from 1968 to 1972, places on record its appreciation of his long and meritorious public service and tenders its profound sympathy to his widow and the members of his family in their bereavement.

Sir Kenneth Anderson, who died on 29 March 1985, had a long and dedicated career in Australia as a parliamentarian. It is an extraordinary thing to say, but I understand that he was plagued by very serious ill health in the last months of his life and in a sense his death was perhaps a blessing. I just want to say a few words about Sir Kenneth Anderson, both because I knew him in the early years of my parliamentary experience and because, as I said, of his long and dedicated service to this chamber. During the war Sir Kenneth Anderson served as a lieutenant in the 8th Signals Division, Malaya. He was a prisoner of war of the Japanese for more than three years both in Changi prison and working on the construction of the Burma-Thailand railway.

Sir Kenneth started his public career in local government politics, becoming Mayor of Ryde in 1949. He entered the New South Wales Parliament following that, as member for Ryde, in 1950. Three years later, after his defeat in a State election, he was elected to the Senate as Liberal Senator for New South Wales. He was re-elected at a number of general elections and served in the Menzies, Holt, McEwen, Gorton and McMahon ministries in the Customs and Excise, Supply and Health portfolios. He was also Leader of the Government in the Senate from February 1968 until the change of government in 1972. Sir Kenneth Anderson, during his 22 years as a Federal senator, served with characteristic conscientiousness on several parliamentary committes. He also represented the Parliament and the Government on various delegations and conferences. Sir Kenneth was created a Knight Bachelor in June 1970 and a Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire in 1972.

My own recollections of Sir Kenneth Anderson are based on a brief period when I knew him in this chamber. I can only say that what I have just said about him in more formal terms was reflected in everything that he did in the Senate. I vividly recall what I regard as one of the best debates I have ever participated in here, the debate on the siting of the new Parliament House when Sir Kenneth Anderson, Senator Grimes and I were on the side of enlightenment. That monster might not have been there today if we had won, but we lost, and if I might say so, being a gentleman, all with great graciousness. Sir Kenneth Anderson was at his best in that debate.

I think the most important memory I have of Sir Kenneth is that he stood out, as it were, in the ranks of the Government and the Opposition of the day as one of nature's gentlemen. I think he will long be remembered as such a person. He was, as I said earlier, a long-standing and respected member of the Senate. On behalf of the Government I extend to his widow and family our sincere sympathy in their bereavement.