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Tuesday, 8 March 1966


Mr DUTHIE (Wilmot) - I wish to associate myself with the motion which is before the House and which pays a wonderful tribute to Bert Thompson who came into the Parliament at the same general election as myself. Bert Thompson was a sincere and genuine parliamentarian. I could not think of Bert in any other field of employment or in other field of activity. He seemed to me to be what I would call the perfect parliamentarian in his attitudes to his comrades in this place, in his electoral work, in his intense regard for detail and in his complete sincerity in all he did. Above all, he was a sincere Christian. I feel that this place is always improved by men of his calibre who come with his beliefs and basic faith to a Parliament with all its problems, its challenges and its tests of character.

Bert Thompson was a genius for detail. It may not be known to all honorable members, that when he drove his motor car most weeks between Adelaide and Canberra he kept a detailed record of his petrol consumption on each trip. He recorded even changes of tyres. This is an interesting facet of his life and it was symbolic of the way he regarded all his work. He did things to a pattern and with a purpose. I pay a tribute also to his amazing general knowledge. Have we ever had in this place a man, except perhaps Norman Makin, with such a wide general knowledge? He had great debating ability. I would have loved to hear him in the prime of his life on a street corner in those early days. I am sure he brought many people into the Australian Labour Party through the power of his personality and his message. He was a Whip's dream, if honorable members understand what I mean by that term. We often need men to fill gaps in debating lists for one reason or another. We need men to fill breaches in debate. On every occasion I went to Bert Thompson, even if I gave him only five minutes' notice, he was ready to go into the debate. Not many men can do this, but Bert Thompson was one who could. Although thrown into debates at a moment's notice he would always make a forceful and colourful contribution.

We will always remember his speeches in this place, perhaps not so much for the fact that we could always hear him but because they contained so many interesting personal anecdotes and experiences. His speeches, as recorded in " Hansard ", read like his autobiography. In his speeches his personal life was unfolded and his interviews and discussions wilh people were brought into the debate. I believe that no contribution to a debate by any person contained so many personal stories as did Mr. Thompson's speeches in this chamber. I pay a great tribute to him as a genuine and sincere parliamentarian and as a loyal colleague and a' loyal member of this Party. As has been said by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell), Bert came up the rough and hard way, but he never lost the common touch; he never lost his humanity and he never lost his faith. I pay tribute to his wife and family and trust that in their bereavement they will be sustained by the knowledge of what we in this Parliament think of him.







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