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Tuesday, 12 February 2002
Page: 63

Senator HILL (Minister for Defence) (5:51 PM) —by leave—I move:

That the Senate expresses its deep regret at the deaths of the Hon. Albert Evan Adermann, former Federal Minister and Member for Fisher and Fairfax; the Hon. Sir Gordon Freeth, former Federal Minister and Member for Forrest; and the Hon. Sir Frederick Charles Chaney, former Federal Minister and Member for Perth; and that the Senate places on record its appreciation of their long and meritorious public service and tenders its profound sympathy to their families in their bereavement.

Albert Evan Adermann was born in Kingaroy, Queensland on 10 March 1927. He attended the Brisbane Boys College and the University of Queensland, where he received a Bachelor of Commerce. Prior to his being elected to parliament, he was a dairy farmer, a public accountant and a councillor on the Kingaroy Shire Council. Outside his work, I understand he was an avid cricket fan. He married Joan in 1951. They had three sons and two daughters. He was elected as the member for Fisher in 1972, following the retirement of his father, the late Sir Charles Adermann. As a member of the National Party, he held the seat until 1984, when he was elected as the member for Fairfax following the 1984 electoral redistribution, and retained this seat until his retirement prior to the 1990 election. He was a member of several parliamentary committees and delegations.

In his first speech he spoke about primary industries, mining, tourism and the delivery of telecommunications services—nothing has changed, Senator Boswell will remind me. He had a strong personal interest in issues affecting rural and regional Australia. This was reflected in the ministries he held. He was opposition spokesman on customs and excise during 1974-75. He then served as Minister for the Northern Territory, Minister Assisting the Minister for Natural Resources, Minister for Veterans' Affairs and Minister Assisting the Minister for Primary Industry. During his time as Minister for the Northern Territory he worked on the re-establishment of Darwin after Cyclone Tracy and helped guide the Northern Territory to self-government when the federal government transferred a significant number of functions to the Northern Territory Legislative Council. He retired from parliament in 1990.

A man of strong Christian faith and values, Evan Adermann was a devoted member of the Church of Christ. He gave much of his time to the Church and was a lay preacher. In the 1999 Queens Birthday honours, he was appointed an Officer in the Order of Australia for service to the Australian parliament, to the community, particularly through the Church of Christ in Queensland, and to local government. I understand that the principal loves of his life were his church and his family.

On behalf of the government I extend to his wife Joan, children Joanne, Jenny, David, Peter and John and to other family members and friends our most sincere sympathy in their bereavement.

Gordon Freeth was born on 6 August 1914 at Angaston in rural South Australia. He attended Sydney Church of England Grammar School, Guildford Grammar School in Western Australia and the University of Western Australia, where he gained a law degree. He also competed in the Sydney Empire Games where he rowed in the winning four.

In 1939 he married Joan Baker and they had twin daughters, Felicity and Susan, and a son, Robert. In 1939 he also set up his law practice in Katanning in Western Australia.

During World War II he enlisted as a pilot in the Royal Australian Air Force and flew Beauforts in New Guinea. He was a flight lieutenant until 1945. He then returned to Katanning where he was prominent in local affairs.

In 1949 he was elected to federal parliament as the Liberal member for the West Australian seat of Forrest. He was returned to parliament seven times and held the seat until 1969.

He was a member of a number of parliamentary committees and delegations and served on the backbench for several years before being appointed to the outer ministry in 1958 as Minister for the Interior and Minister for Works. Over the next 10 years he also held the positions of Minister Assisting the Attorney-General, Minister for Shipping and Transport, Minister for Air and Minister Assisting the Treasurer. In 1969 he was appointed to the senior position of Minister for External Affairs, replacing Sir Paul Hasluck, and held this position until shortly after his defeat at the October 1969 election.

Sir Gordon was appointed Ambassador to Japan from 1970 to 1973 and High Commissioner to Great Britain from 1977 to 1980. In 1978 he was appointed a Knight Commander of the British Empire for distinguished public and parliamentary service.

Sir Gordon was a fitness fanatic who was known in parliamentary circles for his prowess on the squash court. He excelled in rowing, as I mentioned, and also enjoyed boxing, running, swimming and golf. I am told he was well regarded for his ability to do 10 press-ups on his fingertips.

On behalf of the government, I extend to his children and other family members and friends our most sincere sympathy in their bereavement.

Sir Fred Chaney was born on 12 October 1914 at Fremantle in Western Australia. I understand life was difficult for young Fred and his widowed mother during the Great Depression. Those years and the immense human suffering he witnessed ultimately influenced his decision to enter politics.

After completing his primary education at state and Catholic schools, he was granted a scholarship to the CBC Aquinas College. In 1932, when he finished school, not being able to afford to attend university he joined the state education department and pursued a career as a teacher. He married Mavis, a fellow teacher, in 1938 and they went on to have four sons and three daughters. In 1941, Fred enlisted in the Royal Australian Air Force where he trained as a pilot and became a flight instructor. He served in Australia, New Guinea and Borneo. For a time he also performed RAAF reconnaissance as a member of the legendary Z Force commando unit. He was decorated for bravery after he made a daring aircraft landing on a small clearing in Borneo to rescue some stranded persons. Even though his plane was damaged, Sir Fred managed to fly them to safety. As a result of a number of daring rescue missions such as these, Sir Fred was awarded the Air Force Cross for `courage, skill and resourcefulness'.

After his discharge in 1945, Fred returned to teaching and became a deputy headmaster. His strong involvement in the Returned and Services League led him to becoming a state president, the first World War II veteran to do so. It was during this time that he enthusiastically embraced politics.

A member of the Liberal Party of Australia, he was elected as the member for Perth in 1955 and retained the seat until 1969. In his first speech in parliament he spoke of our nation's common respect for law and our common love of freedom and stated: nations of the world must pledge themselves that the rights of free men will be protected wherever they are threatened.

During his parliamentary career, he was a member of several parliamentary committees and delegations. He had notable challenges during his parliamentary career, being the Government Whip from 1962 to 1963 at a time when the coalition had a majority of one, and being appointed as Minister for the Navy shortly after the Voyager disaster. After being defeated in the 1969 election, Fred was appointed as Administrator of the Northern Territory, a position he held from 1970 to 1973. Whilst administrator, he became closely involved in indigenous issues. The strong interest he developed in indigenous issues continued through his life.

Whereas most people are involved in local politics before entering federal parliament, Sir Fred entered local politics in 1978 after his federal career. He was elected Mayor of Perth for two terms until 1982. He received recognition for his significant contribution to the nation. He was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the 1970 New Year's honours list for long political and public service. In 1981, he was appointed Knight Commander of the British Empire for community service.

On behalf of the government, I extend to his wife, Mavis, children, Robin, Fred—who we know well—Karen, Richard, Michael, John and Jillian, and to other family members and friends our most sincere sympathy in their bereavement.