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Tuesday, 11 February 1986
Page: 1


Senator GIETZELT (Minister for Veterans' Affairs) —by leave-Ray William Thorburn was elected as the member for Cook in 1972 and re-elected in 1974, serving during the Whitlam period. Unfortunately, due to longstanding ill health-asthma, which had certain complications-he passed away on Thursday, 30 January this year. I first met Ray Thorburn soon after he was elected to the Sutherland Shire Council, at which time he was active in local community affairs, having spent many years in the ambulance service as a voluntary worker and assistant to that important organisation. Subsequently he became Secretary of the Council of Progress Associations in the Sutherland Shire. Inevitably that led him to take an interest in political matters and he joined the Australian Labor Party and was subsequently elected from the Cronulla riding to the Sutherland Council, where he served from 1964 to 1973. He was elected President of the Shire of Sutherland for 1971-72 and in the same period, as the endorsed Labor candidate, he was elected as member for the seat of Cook.

Ray Thorburn was orphaned at a very early age, and his early experiences led him to his long-standing involvement in assisting disadvantaged people and in local community activities. He also decided to improve his education, and he subsequently moved out of the New South Wales railways to become an electrical engineering officer for the Sydney County Council. When he became Shire President of Sutherland he was elected to the executive of the Local Government Association, and when he became a member of parliament he took an active interest in Aboriginal affairs. He was a member of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs.

When Ray Thorburn lost his seat in the election in 1975, that did not stop his participation in community affairs. Subsequently he was appointed to the board of the Sutherland District Hospital and a few years later he became the President of the Cronulla Workers Club, a position he held for some eight years. Ray Thorburn's whole life was devoted to his fellow men and women and to community affairs. His death is not only a loss of a fine colleague in the Australian Labor Party but also a loss for the citizens of the Sutherland Shire, who turned out in great numbers at his funeral a week or so ago. I pay tribute to a very fine citizen. Australia has lost a very valuable person in community life, and we mourn his passing.