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Tuesday, 17 August 1993
Page: 57


Senator BOURNE —On behalf of the Australian Democrats I wish to join in this condolence motion to the family of Sir Edward `Weary' Dunlop. Truly great Australians are rare enough, great humanitarians are even rarer and Sir Edward Dunlop was both. Weary Dunlop's achievements in helping his fellow Australians in time of war are well known to most of us. Sir Edward will also be remembered for his work for the survivors of war and their families and for his medical contributions to nations across Asia. In the last couple of lines of his war diaries, he says:

  There will be strenuous and exciting days working to get the last of these maimed as damaged men on their way home.

  I have resolved to make their care and welfare a life-long mission.

He never let them down. Regardless of whether it was in sport, medical science, our defence forces or in Australia's regional relations, Sir Edward made a memorable and enduring contribution to this country and by all accounts impressed all those with whom he came into contact.

  We have heard how Sir Edward came to be a prisoner of war in 1942. His physical strength and fitness, his training as a surgeon, his knowledge of men, his ability to lead and inspire others to follow—which is probably more important—to deal with his captors and to organise the foul disease-ridden camps the Australians found themselves in were remarkable qualities which he displayed during this time. The unbelievable horror of those times lives today in the pages of the war diaries of Weary Dunlop. They are certainly emotionally moving and, at the same time, they are immensely inspiring.

  I believe what comes to us in the war diaries is a demonstration of his extraordinary courage and his remarkable tact and skill in getting the best for his men under what surely must be the most horrendous of conditions. He shows us the love and loyalty which obviously existed between him and Helen Ferguson, whom he married after the war, and also his wonderful sense of humour and most obvious charm. All of this inspired devotion in friends, colleagues, acquaintances and indeed many people throughout Australia and South-East Asia.

  After the war, of course, his service to others was evident in all that he was involved in. His own medical practice in Melbourne, where he managed to combine a continuing and devoted care and concern for all his comrades of the war camps, was one such example. His involvement in the development of Australia's role in the Colombo Plan was another. He lectured, taught and operated in Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Thailand and India, and thereafter never stopped working for closer relations with our neighbour nations to the north.

  Few Australians have been as active or as committed in promoting the exchange of knowledge, skills and culture with Asian countries and none as honoured as Weary Dunlop was in return by Asian nations. It is people like Sir Edward Weary Dunlop that inspire us and teach us. His nobility of character and his dedication to others set him apart as a true Australian hero.