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Thursday, 27 November 1986
Page: 2872

Senator MESSNER(1.40) —I rise to address very briefly some remarks about the recent untimely death of Mr Phil Thompson, the National President of the Vietnam Veterans Association. I had known Phil until just recently in most favourable circumstances as I had previously been Minister for Veterans' Affairs during the time there were a lot of discussions with his organisation and with him personally about the problems of Vietnam veterans and, in particular, the problems as he considered them to have been caused by Agent Orange and herbicide usage in Vietnam.

I must say that in all the time I knew him, which goes right back to the early 1980s, I always thought of him as being totally sincere and dedicated to the welfare of the members of the organisation which he represented. He certainly always presented a very strong case to the Government about the matters that were concerning him and his members and always, I think, acted out of the proper and most noble feelings of anybody who had the trusteeship of such an organisation. My personal dealings with him were always very cordial. We had plenty to talk about at the time that he was seeking from the Fraser Government assistance for his membership; that, of course, led to some fairly detailed and robust discussions at times and, indeed, some of those took place in public places.

I want to record my appreciation of the relationship that Phil Thompson brought to me as Minister for Veterans' Affairs and his role as leader of an organisation and the way in which he represented the views of that organisation to the Government. I must say that I regret greatly his passing, especially the manner in which he took his own life apparently as a result of concern over his own health. That health, of course, we had known about for some time and it is unfortunate that it led to his relatively early death. I wish to record my condolences to his family following his demise.

Sitting suspended from 1.43 to 2 p.m.