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Wednesday, 30 May 2018
Page: 5047

Mr FALINSKI (Mackellar) (11:52): I stand today to speak on the memory of a great Australian, Sir John Leslie Carrick AC, KCMG. Sir John Carrick was a man who lived a full and rich 99 years of life. He was a father, a husband, a soldier, a politician and a friend of many.

Sir John first heeded the call of patriotism and service to his country in 1940, when he joined the Australian Imperial Force. In 1943 Sir John was captured and taken as a Japanese prisoner of war. He spent more than three years in prison camps, including the infamous Changi Prison camp in Singapore. He also worked on the Burma-Thailand Railway, where he endured the brutality and cruelty displayed towards Australian prisoners of war. Despite all of this, Sir John's love of his country endured, and when he returned to Australia he did not lose his patriotic resolve.

Sir John is seen by many as one of the people most responsible for developing the Liberal Party from an idea into the most representative and influential political party in Australian politics. Sir John served as a Liberal Party senator for the state of New South Wales between 1971 and 1987. During this time he held multiple ministerial positions in the Fraser government, including Minister for National Development and Energy, Minister for Education, Minister for Urban and Regional Development and Minister for Housing and Construction.

I first met Sir John about 20 years ago, and I only met him twice. He spoke clearly about the importance of Liberal ideals in a modern society but, most critically, about how, when they fall in and out of favour—despite the fact that they are timeless—and when they are forgotten, they too often lead to oppression. I once asked him why he was so strongly supportive of state support for Catholic schools in the 1960s. It was one of the most powerful statements that I've heard in public life. He said, 'When I was a prisoner in Changi they didn't ask you if you were a Catholic or a Protestant, because we were all Australians. We were all there fighting to survive but also fighting to preserve freedom and our country. I was not,' he said, 'fighting for a Catholic Australia or a Protestant Australia. I was fighting for Australia, no more, no less.' So when he returned to Australia and found law firms that were Catholic and law firms that were Protestant—even department stores that only employed Catholics and other department stores that only employed Protestants—he said, 'This is not the Australia I had been fighting for. More importantly, this is not the Australia that many of my comrades had died for, that my comrades in arms had died to protect.' So when the time came, when this issue had reached its pinnacle, he said to Menzies, who was then the Prime Minister: 'This is not the country that I fought and suffered for. I fought for a country where your religion did not matter, and that is what state support meant to me.'

Sir John's memory lives on in the hearts and minds of all those in the Liberal Party. As a titan of the Liberal Party—as one of the great three, as Anthony Albanese described him—his name will be remembered in the league of our two most loyal servants: former prime ministers Sir Robert Menzies and John Howard.

Sir John's beloved wife, Lady Angela Carrick AO, like him dedicated her life to the service of others, including her time spent as Chief Commissioner of Girl Guides Australia in the mid-1980s. She passed away in February of this year. I recognise her and her commitment to this country as well.

On behalf of myself and the people of Mackellar, I offer my most heartfelt condolences to his three daughters, Diane, Jane and Fiona, as well as to the whole Carrick family. To Sir John I say, 'Thank you for your service to your country through your time in the armed services and in the Australian Senate. Thank you for your contribution to the Liberal Party and for the advice and support you provided to me early on in my career.' Lest we forget.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Mr Gee ): I understand that it's the wish of honourable members to signify at this stage their respect and sympathy by rising in their places, and I ask all present to do so.

Honourable members having stood in their places—

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: I thank the Federation Chamber.