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Wednesday, 8 August 2001
Page: 29505


Mr SAWFORD (9:51 AM) —I would like to acknowledge the passing of two great Labor stalwarts in the electorate of Port Adelaide. Both were born in Broken Hill and both, through different circumstances, found themselves to be important people in the history of Port Adelaide.

Perce Hocking, a long-term resident of Seaton, died recently at the grand old age of 104. He was very proud of the fact that he lived in three different centuries. He was born in Broken Hill and his first job was in the mines. However, he came to Adelaide and spent most of his working life in the South Australian Railways—30 years at Monarto South and the remainder at Osborne in the Port Adelaide electorate—until retiring at the age of 65 years in 1962. He once said he owed his longevity to the million units of penicillin he received in 1949 after contracting tetanus. After his retirement he became a weekly volunteer at Port Adelaide Meals on Wheels and, in 1987, was awarded a Senior Citizen of the Year award for community service. He was a life member of the ALP and, with 79 years membership, had possibly the longest ever membership of the ALP in South Australia.

George Whitten was also born in Broken Hill. He spent some teenage years on Mildura fruit blocks before coming to Adelaide. He served his apprenticeship as a boilermaker at the Islington railway workshops and became shop steward, vice-president and federal conference delegate of his union—the Boilermakers and Blacksmiths Society, now the AMWU. He was fiercely loyal to his friends, to his family and to his fellow workers. He joined the ALP in 1949 and maintained continuous membership until his death. He was appointed as a full-time temporary organiser of the ALP state office in 1971 and then, in 1973, he was overwhelmingly elected to the permanent position of organiser, working with the then state secretary, the late Mick Young. In 1974, when Mick Young entered federal parliament as the member for Port Adelaide, George Whitten replaced Mick as state secretary. A year later, in 1975, he became the state member for Price and remained the member for Price for 10½ years until his retirement in 1985. He was proud to be a trade unionist, he was proud to be a member of the Labor Party and he was proud to be a member of the Don Dunstan government.

Loyalty and honesty were George's strongest traits and I was proud to be his friend. The death of his lovely wife, Rhoda, only 18 days before his own death hurt him greatly. They were a wonderful couple and they both will sorely be missed in Port Adelaide. George Whitten was 79. He was very proud of and dearly loved his children—his daughter, Myrle, and his sons Stephen, Graeme and John—his son-in-law and daughters-in-law, his 14 grandchildren and his great-grandson, Jack. Vale Perce Hocking and vale George and Rhoda Whitten. (Time expired)