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Monday, 9 October 2000
Page: 21133

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Mr HAASE (10:53 PM) —It is my melancholy duty, and honour, I might say, to rise this evening to inform the House that one of our colleagues who served this House well—that is, Mr Peter» «Grahame» «Browne» —has passed away. I am aware, Mr Speaker, that shortly afterwards you brought his death to the attention of honourable members in the House. But I rise this evening to inform the House of some detail of the good works done by this man.

He was an interesting man and he had an extremely varied career before joining parliament. He was born in Sydney on 15 July 1924, but grew up in both Sydney and Melbourne over the short time before, in 1940, he put his age up and joined the Australian Military Forces. He was first posted to Darwin as a gunner and, in fact, endured the Japanese bombing of that city. It was shortly after this that he tired of that particular task, deciding instead that he could see himself as an airman. I think the fact that he was something of a larrikin in those days meant that he saw himself as a fighter pilot. He joined the Royal Australian Air Force in 1943. It was very sad that, as a result of his time as a gunner, his hearing was less than satisfactory. He was discharged from military service and spent the rest of the war ferrying fuel out of New Guinea and elsewhere to the attacking American forces in the Pacific.

He returned to the Kimberley region in the Northern Territory after the war and spend a lot of time there as horse breaker and cattle drover extraordinaire before joining Elder Smith Goldsborough Mort in Bridgetown, Western Australia. It was there that he met and married his wife, Margaret, in 1950. He spent some time in Carnarvon after that, managing and operating banana plantations. Sadly, in a cyclone a plantation was destroyed—I think that it was in 1955. He then moved to Kalgoorlie as an organiser for the Liberal Party.

He decided that he had a future in politics. He was very community minded and served his community well. It was in the 1958 election that he decided he would do a dummy run, so to speak, in the election campaign, and be very serious in his attempt to win the seat of Eyre in the next state election. But he was successful, by a mere 180 votes, in winning the unwinnable seat of Kalgoorlie in 1958. It was on 17 February 1959 that he made his maiden speech, and I would like to quote from that speech. He said:

Speaking of my own electorate, of which about 500,000 square miles lie north of the Tropic of Capricorn, there is plenty to be done if we are to retain our moral right to hold these regions. We have an abundance of natural resources, including iron ore, copper, manganese, bauxite—and there may even be a little oil there. We have some of the best grazing land in Australia, and water to irrigate it, if necessary.

We have the potential there to support a large population. In a world already concerned with the problems of over-population, it is unacceptable to our Asian neighbours that this part of Australia, with its obvious wealth, is virtually uninhabited. As there are many millions of these people living closer to the Kimberleys than do most honourable members of this House, I cannot stress too much the importance of developing the area. From the points of view of our economy, defence and security is vital.

I am happy to inform the House that since 1959 much has happened. We have built the North-West Shelf oil project at a cost of $13 billion, we have developed the Ord River and of course the world knows about the wealth of iron ore in the Pilbara. The things that have changed are many, but we still have a long way to go in populating that area. Mr «Browne lost his seat of Kalgoorlie in 1961, and went on to serve the Australian people very well as Private Secretary to Harold Holt. (Time expired)

Question resolved in the affirmative.