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Tuesday, 27 February 1973
Page: 21

Mr KEOGH (Bowman) - I also wish to associate myself with the remarks that have been made in this chamber in relation to the death of former members of the House and, in particular, to associate myself with the remarks that have been made in regard to the passing of the late member for the Queensland electorate of Kennedy, the Honourable W. J. F. Riordan. I knew Bill Riordan only in the last few years of his life, having had the honour to represent him in this Parliament from 1969. He lived in the town of Cleveland in my electorate of Bowman. As I knew him only in those latter years of his life, I cannot speak with any personal knowledge of his parliamentary career, save to say that I know from the remarks that have often been passed about Bill Riordan and from the questions that I have often been asked by members of this House who served with him that he was held in the highest regard by political friend and foe alike.

In the later years of his life, Bill Riordan was very active in many community organisations in Cleveland. He was associated with the Redlands Agricultural, Horticultural and Industrial Society and served on its council. He was an active member of the Cleveland Bowls Club. He was patron and a foundation member of the organising body of a well known aged persons' home in the area, namely the Lake Allawah Home for the Aged. I am sure that members of this Parliament, particularly on this side of the House, who knew Bill during his political career, will be pleased to know that he retained an active association with the Australian Labor Party in the area in which he lived, almost up to the time of his death. I saw him some 6 weeks before his death. At that stage he was struggling to overcome the effects of a stroke which he had suffered earlier in the year. It was somewhat pitiful to endeavour to speak to a man about matters that he was interested in - subjects in the political arena - knowing that, while he understood what was being said to him, the heavy toll that that stroke had taken of his health meant that he was barely able to answer.

Bill Riordan's early retirement from this Parliament was contributed to, I am sure, by the heavy toll that the 30 years of representation of the vast electorate of Kennedy took on his life. The heavy toll on his capacity to continue any longer was such that on medical advice he retired at a very early age. His death followed some 6 years later. He retired when 58 years of age. This is an age at which members of this House very seldom would look to retirement. I am sure that any member of this Parliament who is married will be willing to admit to the important role that his wife plays in the success of his political career. I am sure that those honourable members who knew Bill Riordan will readily understand my linking his wife Kath with the success of his political career.

My first knowledge of Kath Riordan came soon after I was endorsed as the Labor candidate for the electorate of Bowman. I met her at the Cleveland Showground when a large gathering was there. She was wearing her usual large hat, and she swept me off and introduced me to everybody within 5 to 10 minutes of my arrival there. But the very close role that Kath played in Bill's life contributed again to some extent to the shortness of his life. She was tragically taken from him some 2 years before his death and, although many predicted that Bill would not last long after this, he had the capacity to draw himself up and regain his interest in life to a much greater extent than his friends ever felt that he would be able to do. But the rigours of the 30 years of effective and efficient representation that I believed he gave the electorate of Kennedy at last took its toll on his health and on 15th January he succumbed to a second stroke and peacefully passed away from this life in the Princess Alexandra Hospital, South Brisbane. In my final remarks I remind honourable members, as Bill often proudly told me, that he met his wife when he was introduced to her by the man who represented Melbourne until the last election, the right honourable Arthur Calwell. I understand that Arthur Calwell was a close, lifelong friend of Bill's and was best man at his wedding. I support the remarks that have been made and extend my particular condolence to Bill's sisters, the 2 remaining members of his family, especially to Nancy Riordan who I understand now will be living in Junee with her sister. Nancy, of course, was also very closely linked with Bill's political career, being his secretary for a large part of that time.

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