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The Hon Sir Reginald William Colin Swartz KBE, ED.

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THE HON SIR REGINALD WILLIAM COLIN SWARTZ KBE, ED I was deeply saddened to learn of the death of Sir Reginald Swartz, former long-serving Federal minister. On behalf of the Australian Government and people, I extend my sincere condolences to his family.

Reg Swartz was a “Forty-Niner” - one of the group of Liberal and Country Party members who first entered the national parliament with the election of the Menzies Government in 1949.

Born in Brisbane on 14 April 1911, Reg Swartz was educated at Toowoomba Grammar. Aged 17 he joined the Citizens Military Forces and later enlisted in the 2nd A.I.F. He served with 2/26 Infantry Battalion, 8th Division in the Malayan campaign. After being captured by the Japanese, he was a prisoner of war for three-and-a-half years, spending time in Changi and a period working on the Burma-Thailand railway. When the war ended in 1945, he returned to Australia.

Sir Reginald was elected to the Federal Parliament as the Member for Darling Downs in 1949. He held the seat for 23 years and served as a minister in the Menzies, Holt, McEwen and Gorton governments in a wide range of portfolios. He was Leader of the House of Representatives from 1971-72.

He was created a Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire in June 1972.

During his time as a serving member of the Australian military, Member of Parliament and businessman Sir Reginald earned a wealth of respect from a wide range of Australians.

I recall Sir Reginald, along with former Federal MPs the Hon Sir John Carrick and the Hon Tom Uren - also prisoners of war - accompanied me to Thailand in 1998 when I had the privilege of opening the Hellfire Pass Memorial Museum. The Museum honours the 2700 Australians who died building the infamous Burma-Thailand railway in World War II.

He is survived by his second wife Lady (Muriel) Swartz and children Barbara, Graham and Rodney. The family has accepted an offer of a State Funeral which will be held in Caloundra late next week.

3 February 2006