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Tuesday, 5 November 1985
Page: 1497

Senator GIETZELT (Minister for Veterans' Affairs) —On behalf of the members of the Australian Labor Party in the Senate and the Labor Party generally, I would like to support the remarks made by the respective leaders of the parties in the Senate. In particular, I wish to add my contribution to the condolences which have been extended to the former senator's wife and family. Joe Fitzgerald was a very significant figure in the Australian Labor Party in the State of New South Wales and, in fact, was held in such high esteem that on many occasions he was able to gain the support of the Party to be its candidate not only in the seat of Phillip, which he served for six years-he was first elected in 1949-but also later in the Australian Senate. He was a victim of the Cold War hysteria of the early 1950s and was defeated as the member for Phillip in the 1954 election. However, his record, standing and prestige in our Party was such that very shortly after that election he was appointed by the Leader of the ALP, Dr Evatt, as his private secretary. He served in that position with a great deal of distinction for a number of years. In 1961, when my Party conducted its pre- selection processes, he was, together with yourself, Mr President, and Mr Justice Murphy, selected by the Party to be a Senate candidate. All three Labor candidates were elected to the Senate on that occasion. He served the Senate from 1962 until the double dissolution in 1974, when, on account of ill health, he did not contest the election.

I think I have to say for those members of the Senate who were here in that period-I had only a short couple of years with him, having become a member of the Senate in 1971-that he was well regarded by all members of the Senate. I noticed the rapport which he had with all honourable senators. They respected his integrity, compassion and gentleness as a human being. It was quite a lesson to me to see, in a place where party politics sometimes has a rugged edge, Joe Fitzgerald somehow or other outlived the prejudices and passions that sometimes divide this place. He was committed to the fundamental principles of the Labor movement. He certainly understood and accepted his responsibilities to the working men and women of Australia. He ably represented them for the 18 years he served in the national Parliament.

Joe Fitzgerald was stricken with a fairly serious stroke in 1971. Nevertheless, he overcame those difficulties. In fact, throughout his life he overcame many difficulties of a personal and a political nature. He was unfortunate enough to lose his wife in rather tragic circumstances. He later remarried. I have to pay tribute to his second wife for her efforts in the years that she shared with him and the way in which she nurtured him, nursed him and got him back to being an active person in our society. To his family, and to his wife in particular, I say that the way in which he carried out his public functions, the way in which he acted as a citizen and the way in which he represented the view of our Party and of our movement were a tribute in every way to the personality and the characteristics of Joe Fitzgerald. I speak on behalf of those members of the Senate who worked with him over many years. I express my deepest sympathy and support the condolence motion.