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Tuesday, 16 April 1985
Page: 1020


Senator Sir JOHN CARRICK —I too would like to join with the Senate in expressing sympathy to the family of the late Sir Kenneth Anderson. As some may know, I was privileged to walk with him for something like 40 years of his journey. I could not have wanted a better friend in adversity or in more peaceful times. Those who have paid tribute have paid tribute to the man. He was forged, as so many of his generation and age were, out of the adversity of Depression and war years. From them he had the desire to reform. He was, in one way, a paradox. He was a creature, both child and adult, of his dearly beloved suburb of Ryde. He was born at sea on a German ship, but his family lived in Ryde. He was educated in Ryde. He winked at a very fine young lady named Madge Merrion in Ryde. After some five or six years of courtship he married her in Ryde. He set up his real estate business in Ryde and indeed went to the war from Ryde. I was privileged to meet him at that time, to know something of his journey and to know something of his well loved 8th Division Signals, in which he served with very considerable distinction in the Malay campaign. I knew something of F Force, the force with which he went to Thailand and Burma, and the working party which suffered so greatly.

The extraordinary nature of the man was shown by the fact that three times, from memory, along the Burma-Thailand railway he was so critically ill that he was left in what we called the death camps, but his will to live was so strong that he picked up and survived. In the last months of the war in Changi, by the miracle of a precious drug, emetine, he survived bacillary dysentery. He came home and, against that background, picked up from where he was. His life pattern then was influenced immensely not only by a wonderful wife, who had supported him throughout the war years and kept his business going, but also by his father. His father had been Mayor of Ryde, a member of the Ryde Hospital board and the member of State Parliament for Ryde.

One by one, Ken Anderson stepped in the shoes of his father. In 1949, with a team of 12 amateurs, he captured the Ryde Municipal Council and became Mayor. That was an extraordinary situation. He was, indeed, a very fine local representative. From 1950 to 1953, as the Leader of the Government (Senator Button) has said, he was the State member for Ryde, and then he came to Canberra. In everything he did he served the public. There is scarcely a voluntary body in the whole of the Ryde-Eastwood area that does not bear the stamp of Ken Anderson. He was President of the Ryde district hospital and held many positions there. The hospital gave him leave. He was off the board during the war years and then he came back. I think for something like 23 years afterwards he served on that board. No matter what one mentions, be it food for babies funds or thalidomide funds, it seemed that the man had one purpose in this life and that was to serve his fellows. That was the pattern of the fellow I knew.

It is very right to say that he was in every sense a gentleman. He was very much in his attitudes the Presbyterian Scot. He had a gentleness, but that firmness which comes from knowing the values internally. He found peace with himself in that. I join those who pay tribute to Madge, his quite wonderful wife; to Robyn, his daughter, whom he loved so much; to his grandchildren; and to his two surviving brothers and his sister. I say to them that they, in common with all of us here, have lost someone who really knew what it is to serve Australia in every capacity-local, State and Federal-but who was so involved in the community that he left his stamp and his memory wherever he walked, and we are the poorer for his passing.