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Wednesday, 23 March 1966

Mr HAROLD HOLT (Higgins) (Prime Minister) . - On Friday another stalwart of the Australian Labour Party, a man who had given very long service in the Parliament of his State, later in the House of Representatives and subsequently, as I recall it, again in his own State Parliament - totalling in all some 30 years of parliamentary service - died. This was John Francis Gaha. As a member of the Australian Labour Party he served in this House from 1943 to 1949. Before entering the Federal Parliament he served in the Legislative Council of Tasmania from 1933 to 1943. During that time he was an honorary Minister, Minister for Health and Leader of the Government in the Legislative Council. He entered this chamber as the member for Denison in 1943 and, following his retirement in 1949, returned to the Tasmanian State Parliament where he resumed an active and distinguished career as a member of the House of Assembly.

He served his State as Chief Secretary and as Minister for Police and Minister for Transport. Despite ill health in recent years he continued his participation in politics in Tasmania.

He was a doctor of medicine by profession, but he devoted most of his life to his public service. However, he still found time to practise medicine and to keep himself up to date with the latest developments in his profession. His name became a byword around Hobart for the generosity with which he made his professional services available to people in the electorate he represented. His friendliness to all made him something of a legend in his own State. We remember him vividly from his service in this Parliament. He had a personality which was quite distinctive and highly individualist. Somehow, he managed to discipline his individualism within the requirements of the rules of the Party of which he was a member, but one always had the impression that a lively minded individual was there - one who tended to bubble over in cheerful good nature and in warm friendliness to all his fellow members of the Parliament, regardless of party. Through this long period of his life, he rendered a service which should receive the gratitude of his State and of this Parliament. His personality made his service the more richly appreciated, because it was so cheerfully and generously given. We do well to recognise .in this place a man who gave a life of service -to his fellow men and at the same time warmed their daily lives by his presence among them.

He made a significant contribution to the work of this House during his six years in the Federal Parliament, particularly in relation to the problem of health, of which he had developed such a specialist knowledge. Our sympathy goes to his wife in her sad loss. I move -

That this House expresses its deep regret at the death of the Honorable John Francis Gaha, a member of this House for the Division of Denison from 1943 to 1949, places on record its appreciation of his long and meritorious public service, and tenders its profound sympathy to his widow in her bereavement.

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