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Monday, 6 June 1994
Page: 1308


Senator REID —I would like briefly to speak on this condolence motion. I knew Sir David Fairbairn as Mr Fairbairn in the days when I was a young, student Liberal, and he was an active member of the Liberal Party of Australia. He always took a great interest in the younger members of the party, and gave encouragement and support to them. He was always willing to accept invitations to functions and to speak at events. He is a man I remember with affection. I certainly had quite a bit to do with him in earlier times.

  Prior to Sir David's retirement he lived in Canberra and, since his retirement, I have certainly had quite a lot to do with both Sir David and Lady Fairbairn in this community. He maintained an active interest in the Liberal Party and what it was doing, and certainly always helped at any election at which I was a candidate. He was always there to give out how-to-vote cards and to do all the other things that active members of parties do, accompanied of course by Lady Fairbairn.

  I read with great interest the obituary in the Canberra Times of 3 June written by John Farquharson. I would like to quote a little of that because to me it sums up people's thoughts about Sir David Fairbairn. The obituary refers to the time when he made a leadership challenge and, referring to that period, the article says:

  The question that everyone was asking at the time was: Why did this quiet gentleman politician make this surprise move? Wal Fife, a colleague who had always been very close to him and who succeeded him in his seat of Farrer, suggested that it came down to the fact that David Fairbairn was a man with a proper sense of duty—the sort of man who goes into public life purely because he sees it as his duty and for no other reason.

  Because of his deep concern for the Liberal Party, the Government and the nation, he saw it as his duty to risk all in an attempt to bring about a change which he saw as necessary at the time. But the way he went about it was typical of the man.

That is quoted as Wal Fife's summary. Mr Fife replaced Sir David as the member for Farrer upon his retirement. I shall continue to see Lady Fairbairn in my electorate. I send my condolences to her and to Sir David's family, and I shall certainly attend the memorial service for him on Thursday of this week.

  Today, we have also heard of a number of his achievements and the things that he was involved in and pursued. I very briefly mention in closing that for a period of time he was also a member of the joint committee on the ACT. Perhaps that was not his greatest contribution to the parliament, but he served on that committee, he took an interest in the national capital and he lived here for some years.

  Question resolved in the affirmative, honourable senators standing in their places.