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Monday, 11 November 1991
Page: 2819


Senator WALSH —Mr President, as the longest serving Labor Party senator from Western Australia, I, too, want to be associated with this motion of condolence. Indeed, if my memory is correct, only Senator Durack was actually a member of the Senate when Lawrie Wilkinson was also a senator. I did not directly replace Lawrie Wilkinson. Gordon McIntosh was his more direct replacement. But we both came into the Senate after the 1974 election, at which time, of course, Lawrie Wilkinson ceased to be a member of the Senate.

  Unlike Senator Vallentine, who first met Lawrie Wilkinson in 1972, I met him in the late 1960s at a time when the great moral issue in Australian politics was Australia's involvement in the Vietnam war and the associated issue of conscription—the same time as Senator Vallentine was joining the Country Party. I believe that there was no stronger opponent of the war in Vietnam and conscription than Lawrie Wilkinson or I and the other Labor senators who have spoken, including Western Australian Labor senators and former Western Australian, Senator McMullan.

  When I first contested, unsuccessfully, the Federal seat of Moore in 1969, Lawrie Wilkinson was associated with that campaign and to a limited extent—to the same limited extent that I did—toured around the electorate and spoke to people. We produced a very large swing in Moore, as we received in Western Australia generally at that time, but not enough to win the seat. I suppose, thinking of my own career in politics, it is probably just as well because had we managed to win Moore, we would have lost it again in 1972 and that probably would have been the end of me in politics, which some people probably think would have been a good thing.

  Lawrie was a life member of the Labor Party. I am not sure whether in his latter years he was primarily a Labor Party supporter and voter or whether he was supporting latter-day Peaceniks like Senator Vallentine who, as I mentioned earlier, were joining the Country Party in the 1960s when the war in Vietnam was actually the dominant issue.

  Before closing, I would like to apologise, I suppose the term is, for Senator McKiernan's absence from the Senate. Had he not been required to attend a meeting, he, too, would like to have spoken on this motion.

  Question resolved in the affirmative, honourable senators standing in their places.