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Monday, 14 September 1987
Page: 35


Mr CARLTON —Madam Speaker, I will not keep the House as the hour is late and people will be worried about getting on to other appointments. I suppose it was one of Bill Snedden's characteristics that ought to be mentioned that he was such a clubbable fellow. He liked talking to people so much and got on with them so well that it was hard to get him on to the next appointment. I had quite some experience with him when I was General Secretary of the New South Wales division of the Liberal Party of Australia and when he was the parliamentary Leader in organising visits to New South Wales for Bill. He was the hardest fellow to get from one appointment to the next on time because he always wanted to talk to the next customer; always wanted to tell another joke or to hear another joke.

I think Jack Pettifer was Clerk of the House of Representatives when Bill took over as Speaker. I was one of those most earnestly and eagerly watching to see whether Jack could get him into the House exactly on time on his first day as Speaker. It is a great tribute to the Clerks that they did that throughout his period as Speaker.

I want to add a little on Bill's contribution to the reform of the Liberal Party. In 1971 when I came into the job of General Secretary in New South Wales, coming out of a business background, I just could not believe the absolute shambles of the campaign organisation of the Liberal Party. It ran different campaigns in every State. As the State Secretary in New South Wales I had to organise all the advertising in New South Wales. Bill Snedden defeated Nigel Bowen for the leadership of the Party, by one vote as it happened. I did not know Bill as well as I knew Nigel. John Atwill, the then President, and I rang up Bill the following day and asked, `Bill, what can we do to help?'. He gave us some indication of the kinds of things he thought needed to be done in the Liberal Party, and we had very strong views ourselves. It was one of the most rewarding experiences I have had, and certainly the most rewarding in the organisational wing of the Party. During his period as Leader the whole of the Federal organisation was changed.

The first national campaign of the organisation was held in 1974. That was the first time we had a federally organised campaign. We recruited Tim Pascoe as head of the organisation federally. We got Tony Eggleton back from London and he took over from Tim a year later. The federal platform of the Party, which had been moribund for years, was revived. Policies were written and a major change in the organisational structure of the Liberal Party was carried out under Bill Snedden's leadership with R. J. Southey, now Sir Robert Southey, as the Federal President. That aspect of what Bill has done has not been fully brought out tonight. Although some people saw that from the parliamentary side, I saw it from the organisational side. So when Malcolm Fraser took over the leadership of the Liberal Party he had a greatly changed and superior machine to that of our opponents, which was one of the major factors in Malcolm Fraser's success in winning the Prime Ministership. That is an extra point about Bill Snedden.

Of course, during that period of major organisational change I got to know him very well indeed. I was very fond of Bill. I was delighted that in only the last couple of months I happened by luck to spend two lengthy plane journeys with him in which we could go over old times. I treasure that memory of Bill in his last two or three months of life. I also express my sympathy to Joy and the family for the loss of a very fine Australian.