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Tuesday, 3 May 1994
Page: 21


Senator HILL (Leader of the Opposition) —Mr President, on behalf of opposition senators I join with the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Gareth Evans) in expressing regret at the death on 13 April of former Senator the Hon. John Edward Marriott CBE, Liberal senator for Tasmania for 23 years and Assistant Minister for Health. As has been said by the Leader of the Government in the Senate, John Marriott was born in Tasmania in 1913, educated at Launceston Church of England Grammar School and then at Hutchins School in Hobart.

  After leaving school he worked for the ABC, a real estate agent and a chartered accountant before enlisting in the Second AIF in 1940 and serving with the Australian Signal Corp in the Middle East and Papua New Guinea. He then worked for the Tasmanian division of the Liberal Party from 1945 to 1949 and, as I think was also said by the Minister, as secretary to the Leader of the Opposition in the Tasmanian House of Assembly from 1949 to 1953.

  He was chosen to represent Tasmania in the Senate in March 1953 in place of former Senator Chamberlain. He was, as I said, a senator for 23 years, being elected to the Senate in July 1953 and again in 1958, 1964, 1970 and 1974. As has been said, he came from a well known political family. His father, Captain Frank Marriott, and brother, Mr Fred Marriott, both held seats in the Tasmanian parliament between 1922 and 1961. In fact between Captain Marriott and his two sons, the Marriott family can claim 53 years continuous parliamentary service, with at least one of them present in the Tasmanian or federal parliament every year from 1922 to 1975. He served on many Senate and joint committees and was Temporary Chairman of Committees and member of the executive of the Inter-Parliamentary Union. From September 1971 until 1972 he was Assistant Minister for Health and a member of the Executive Council.

  He will be remembered particularly I think for his work in this place in relation to drug abuse. He was Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Drug Trafficking and Drug Abuse and, as has also been said, long before it became a prominent issue was concerned about public reaction to advertising techniques used to promote smoking, alcohol and drugs in general. No doubt he would have been encouraged by moves in recent years to limit the advertising of these products, particularly at sporting events.

  He was a compassionate man, opposing society's condemnation of drug users. In a speech to the Alcoholism Foundation of Victoria in 1971, he stated:

I feel it is essential that throughout society there should be a change in attitude and approach to the person wrongfully or unwisely using drugs. Too often people literally throw up their hands in horror and do all they can to shun and ostracise the drug taker, when that is the time the person needs friendship and support.

That is something, Mr President, that we should all remember. In 1972 he was honoured to be chosen as consultant to the United States National Commission on Marijuana and Drug Abuse. He also attended the 30th International Conference on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence in Amsterdam.

  He was also well known in Canberra for his role as Chairman of the Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory, chairing many inquiries including the 1970 inquiry into Sunday observance in the ACT. I also noted that he once said in that capacity:

Much comment has been made in recent years of Canberra's soulless nature, particularly in relation to weekend activities. It appears there is a prevailing gloominess and boredom.

This was taken up by the Bulletin magazine where it was suggested, tongue-in-cheek, that parliamentary committees sit on Sundays `when there isn't much to do around town'.

  That would not have suited Senator Marriott, because on weekends he returned to Tasmania where he worked for the benefit of the less well-off. For many years he played an active and unselfish role in community and charity organisations, foremost amongst them Legacy, of which he was a founding member. Many weekends, as I said, were spent chopping wood for war widows and mowing church lawns. He also spent many a new year's eve away from his family, choosing rather to see the new year in as camp commandant with the annual Legacy Christmas camp for children.

  Following 23 years of distinguished service in the Senate, Senator Marriott left the parliament in 1975. On behalf of all Liberal and National Party senators I extend our deepest sympathy to his widow and their family.