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Monday, 2 December 2002
Page: 6852

Senator FERGUSON (4:16 PM) —I rise to associate myself with the condolence motion that was moved by Senator Hill in relation to the late former senator Gordon Davidson. Gordon Davidson had three great loves in life: his church, his party and his community in South Australia. My father had a close association with the late Gordon Davidson, particularly through the church and the party. My father was a member of the state parliament during much of the period that Gordon Davidson was a senator. My earliest recollection of Gordon Davidson is listening to the radio on a Sunday afternoon. When Gordon Davidson was Organising Secretary of the Presbyterian Church he had a five-minute spot on the radio. Unknown to him, he had a voice that very closely resembled a well-known race caller of the day, and I can tell you that Gordon got more into his five minutes on the radio than any race caller ever got into a race because, being of Scottish heritage, I think he wanted to make sure he got his money's worth, even though he was getting it for free. That was my earliest recollection—every Sunday afternoon listening to this beautiful voice of Gordon Davidson, who was a very good orator, speaking on the radio.

Senator Davidson, as he later became, was very proud of his Scottish heritage. Those that have known him over the years will remember that, because Senator Reid has referred to his tartan bow ties and tartan waistcoats. And he had this longstanding interest in Scotch College, particularly because of its relationship with the Presbyterian Church. Senator Hill and I attended Scotch College— not at the same time as Senator Davidson, of course—and my father was there prior to his time. So he had all of his loves joined together in one main cause that he could serve on and work in for most of his working life.

You need only to read the biographical registers to know that his interests were widespread. As Senator Chapman and others have said, his whole life was devoted to community service in South Australia, whether it be as a member of parliament, as part of his church organisation or as representing the interests of various groups in South Australia, like the Royal Flying Doctor Service, the St. Andrews Presbyterian Hospital and all of these other things to which he willingly and voluntarily gave his time to serve the interests of his fellow man. It is with regret that we note the passing of former Senator Davidson, but those of us who knew him and those that were affected by his life will always remember the enormous contribution that he made to South Australians, to our Liberal Party in South Australia and to the Senate.

There are many who claim to have been Young Liberals when they first met Gordon Davidson. I was not a Young Liberal when I first met Gordon Davidson, because I joined the senior party when I was 20. I guess I have always been an old Liberal, and a lot of my colleagues would probably say that it shows. With the impact that Senator Davidson had in his 16 years as a backbencher in this parliament—the influence he had over the people that worked around him and that he worked with—he will always be highly regarded by those who understand the processes of the Senate. He was not even content to let it all be in the past when he retired, because he was also a very strong member of the former federal members association. Invariably, when they had their functions here in Canberra, we would see Gordon Davidson and his wife on the plane coming to attend the former federal members functions. He thought it was important to maintain those contacts. He loved the political life. He loved knowing what was happening currently and he also wanted to maintain contact with the many people that he knew. I join with others in offering my sympathy to his wife and family. I am very pleased to have been able to associate myself with the remarks on the passing of former Senator Gordon Davidson.