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Tuesday, 27 February 1973
Page: 18

Mr WHITLAM (Werriwa) (Prime Minister) - Mr Speaker, I have the sad duty to inform the House that since the dissolution of the last Parliament the death has occurred of 4 previous members of the House: Mr Tom Burke, Mr Jack Mortimer, the Hon. W. J. F. Riordan and the Hon. H. V. C. Thorby. Mr Bill Riordan was the member who had served longest and was one of the 2 who had served most recently. He came from an exceptionally distinguished Queensland Labor family. His father, W. J. Riordan, was President of the Australian Workers Union in Queensland from 1916 to 1925. He became a member of the Industrial Arbitration Court of Queensland in 1933 and retired from the Court in 1952. One of Mr Bill Riordan's uncles, David 'Darby' Riordan, represented the same division of Kennedy from October 1929 until his death in October 1936. Mr Bill Riordan's other uncle, E. J. Riordan, was a member of the Queensland Legislative Assembly from 1936 to 1944. Shortly thereafter he became Bill Riordan's secretary. In 1950, immediately after losing that position, he was again elected to the Queensland Legislative Assembly and became Secretary for Mines and Irrigation in 1952. He held that portfolio until his death in December 1954.

I believe that Mr Bill Riordan was the last male in the family. He was elected at the byelection caused by his uncle's death. For 37 years Kennedy was Riordan territory more., one has to concede, than it was Labor territory. For 15 elections the Riordans - uncle and nephew - were endorsed by the electors of that vast territory. I have noted an account of Bill Riordan's by-election campaign in the Queensland 'Worker' in November 1936 in these terms:

Frank Forde, Deputy Leader of the Federal Labor Party, will arrive from Canberra on Monday to campaign for Bill Riordan in Kennedy.

May I say that Mr Forde is in the gallery today. At the time of his election Bill Riordan, at 28 years of age, was the youngest member of the House. In his maiden speech he spoke of the need for stronger naval and air defences. As Minister for the Navy from 1946 to 1949 he established the Fleet Air Arm. In his last speech in this Parliament, 30 years after his maiden speech, he stressed the need for strengthening the Fleet Air Arm. In the year he entered this Parliament our Party had just started on the road back from the disaster of the early 1930s. He saw the Australian Labor Party come to power under John Curtin, served as a Minister under Chifley, and shared the bitterness of defeat and the long years in the wilderness. He lived long enough to see Labor's return to power. The other of the 2 deceased members who served most recently was Mr Jack Mortimer. He was elected at a by-election in June 1963. It was generally thought that the completion of the trans-continental railway of standard gauge, particularly the link from Port Pirie to Broken Hill, was due to Mr Mortimer's advent to the Parliament. He was re-elected in the general elections of 1963. He was defeated in the elections of 1966. He served 4 years in the Australian Imperial Force. He had been a farmer in South Australia. He had become an official of the Waterside Workers Federation. He was therefore, well-equipped to represent the variety of interests in his farflung electorate. He died on 8th February at Port Hedland by drowning.

The third of the deceased members, in order of most recent service, was Mr Tom Burke. He participated in the great years under Curtin and Chifley. He shared in the years of defeat and division, and was one of the casualties. He served as member for Perth from 1943 until his defeat in 1955. He died on 17th January. He took great pride in the fact that one of his 3 sons is a member of the Legislative Assembly of Western Australia.

The remaining member, the one who left the service of this House longest ago, was the Honourable Harold Victor Campbell Thorby. He died on New Years Day. He was 85 years of age. He had served in the New South Wales Legislative Assembly from 1922 to 1930, the last 3 years as Minister for Agriculture. He was elected to the Division of Calare in this chamber in 1931. He was defeated in 1940. He was Deputy Leader of the Parliamentary Country Party from 1937 to 1940. He served as Minister in charge of war service homes from 1934 to 1936, as Minister for Defence from 1937 to 1938, as Minister for Civil Aviation from 1938 to 1939 and as Postmaster-General and Minister for Health from March 1940 to October 1940. I can remember him campaigning very assiduously and effectively for his Party only 10 years ago, at a very advanced age, in the electorates of Calare and Lawson.

All 4 members had an active, distinguished political life and preparation for political life in the House and an opportunity to serve scores of thousands of people as members of the House. Honourable members knew of them; a few knew all of them. It is a sad duty to commence the Parliament by recording their passing.

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