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Monday, 14 October 1991
Page: 1888

Mr LES SCOTT(10.45 p.m.) —-I rise not to speak on topics previous speakers have spoken on tonight but to speak of a very good old friend of mine who passed away some 12 months ago. Not only was she a former staff member of mine and a very good friend but also she was a long term member of the Australian Labor Party. I speak of Clare Rebecca Hall. The anniversary of her sad passing was 4 October, and I have not had an opportunity before to make the comments I wish to make tonight. On Friday, 4 October, my thoughts were certainly with Clare and, in particular, with her husband Russ. A more dedicated couple one would never find. I phoned Russ on the Monday after that weekend. Of course, that weekend had been particularly difficult for him, remembering the great partner that he had had for many years.

I would like to pay tribute to Clare tonight for the very significant contribution she made to Australian politics which spanned some 30 years. Clare's efforts were made not as a front row player as a member of parliament, but, rather, through a lifelong active role in the Australian Labor Party and, more directly, as a staff member for parliamentarians. She was a life member of the Australian Labor Party, and deservedly so.

Her story starts with her birth in the home at the back of her parents' cafe at Main Beach on the Gold Coast in Queensland--a more conventional birth in a hospital having been prevented by flooding over the Southport Jubilee Bridge. It was probably as a result of that that Clare loved to swim. She was a great swimmer and, right up to her later years, like yourself, Mr Acting Speaker, she loved to ride a surfboard. She was very active in that role until, very sadly, illness took her.

Clare was the second child of Charles and Rebecca Rowe. She learnt from an early age to accept working long and hard as the norm. With the outbreak of World War II, her father, already a veteran of Gallipoli, joined up to serve his country again. It was during this time that the family moved to Brisbane, where Clare went to Mary Immaculate College. While working after school in a milk bar in Annerley, she helped pay for her education. It was at this milk bar in 1944 that Clare and her husband Russ first met each other. Russ, then a young soldier, made frequent visits to the milk bar. The war parted their ways, and it was not until 1946 that, by chance, they met again after joining the same tennis club. The relationship grew and finally they married in 1953.

After their marriage, Clare and Russ settled at Inglewood in western Queensland. It was here that Clare's ever present desire to help people was put to use for the benefit of a large number of people for the first time. In 1956, the town and surrounding areas suffered badly due to heavy flooding--which is quite in contrast to today, of course. Clare saw the needs and suffering of the people in the area and became an active member of the local committee for flood relief.

Once this work was finished, Russ and Clare moved to Brisbane where, in 1957, Clare took a position with the Australian Labor Party. Her commitment and dedication to her work was quickly recognised and she soon became private secretary to the ALP Queensland branch secretary and office manager, serving in this position until 1965.

During Clare's time in the Party office, apart from her secretarial work, she took an active role in the Party's affairs and participated in many of the Party's forums. This involvement continued after she left full time employment with the Party in 1965. At various times, Clare was a delegate to the Party's State Council, State conferences and the national conference, as well as serving on the State electoral college and disputes tribunal. In these roles, as always, she gave freely of her time and energy and always acted in what she believed was the best interests of the Party that she loved and believed in so much.

Clare left the Party office in 1965 to work for Senator Jim Keeffe. This was her first direct role in the parliamentary system and was a role in which her caring and concerned nature was shown in its full light. As secretary for Senator Jim Keeffe, Clare had daily contact with many people with a wide range of problems. Always they were received in a warm and friendly manner, given a full and sympathetic hearing and offered the fullest possible assistance. This was Clare's greatest asset--her ability to make people feel at ease and her commitment to obtaining a satisfactory resolution to their problems.

I am very pleased to have had the opportunity to say a few words about Clare tonight and to remember, particularly for the benefit of her husband Russ, the very sad sentiments felt by myself and all my friends, particularly those in my electorate, who learnt to love Clare, as we all did. (Time expired)