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Tuesday, 27 November 1973
Page: 2103

Senator O'BYRNE (Tasmania) - I associate myself with the motion of condolence on the death of John Johnstone Dedman. I am the only senator in this place today who was a contemporary of John Dedman when he was in the Parliament. I would like to pay a tribute to the dedicated service that he gave to his fellow men and to the nation, and to express my very deep sympathy to his widow and his family. John Dedman was one of the rare people in Australian public life. He was a man with very high ideals who had the opportunity to implement them. In his position as Minister for War Organisation of Industry he had to cut across the traditional Australian attitude towards regimentation. During war time, with its pressures and with the enemy at our very gates, the Australian as a rule felt that he wanted to carry on his ordinary life as much as possible and John Dedman as the Minister had the odious task of arranging for people to do the jobs which were most effective and would do the most good for our country in war time.

On my return from the war I joined his department of Post-war Reconstruction and was able there to get first hand knowledge of the tenacity and singleness of purpose of John Dedman when he had to turn around on an opposite tack and bring back into civilian life as smoothly as possible the 750,000 people who had been engaged in the armed forces and unwind the war effort that had built up and redirect that effort in peace time. This was an amazing task and, having been associated with it as a district officer of the Department of Post-war Reconstruction in Tasmania, I realised the great thought that had gone into the plan for the rehabilitation of people in industry. The whole concept of apprenticeship, the organisation of war service land settlement, war service homes and the various schemes that were devised very smoothly brought people out of the armed services back into civilian life. I was also associated with John Dedman as a foundation member of the interim council of the Australian National University. I was appointed by John Dedman to that office and held that office until 1949 when I was succeeded by Senator Dame Dorothy Tangney, who had a university degree. It was thought at the time that it was very desirable to have a woman representative on the interim council.

However, I saw some of the scope of vision of John Dedman when he wanted to reverse the brain drain that had gone on for so long. Some of our most notable men had gone overseas and he saw the opportunity to bring them back to Australiamen such as Sir Howard Florey, Professor Stanner and Sir Marc Oliphant. Great men like these were brought back to Australia and were able to contribute to the cultural and intellectual life of this country. I would like to place on record my appreciation of the great service rendered by John Dedman to this country and his fellow men. His great idealism and his rapport with the ordinary people of this country are something for which he will always be remembered. I pay tribute to his great work and express my sympathy to his widow and family.

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