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The Hon Sir (James) Denis James Killen AC KCMG.

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It is with great sadness that I announce the death of the former Liberal Member for Moreton and Gorton and Fraser Government Minister Sir James Killen. He passed away in Brisbane today at the age of 81.

Sir James served as Minister for the Navy in the Gorton Government from 1969 to 1971, Minister for Defence in the Fraser Government between 1975 and 1982 and Vice President of the Executive Council from 1982 to 1983.

He was knighted in 1982 and received the Companion of Australia - the highest of Australia’s honours - in 2004 for his distinguished contribution to public life as a parliamentarian, barrister, author, orator and advocate for social justice and the rights of the underprivileged members of the community.

He enjoyed the affection of all sides of politics because of his wit, warmth and no-nonsense approach to public life.

Political legend has it that in 1961 he received one of the most famous telegrams in Australian political history from the then Prime Minister RG Menzies saying: “Killen you were magnificent”. This was in recognition of Jim Killen having narrowly held the seat of Moreton on Communist Party preferences thus ensuring the survival of the Menzies Government.

I remember Jim Killen with great affection. We were fellow members of the Fraser ministry for the whole term of the Fraser Government. He frequently provided me with helpful advice and counsel after he left parliament in 1983.

Jim Killen was a compelling public speaker who will be warmly remembered for his eloquence as well as his blunt turns of phrase.

On behalf of Janette and myself, the Australian Government and all members of the Liberal Party of Australia, I extend my deepest sympathies to Sir James’ widow Lady Benise Killen, his daughters Diana and Heather and his grandchildren Dana and Amanda. Jim Killen’s first wife Lady Joy pre-deceased him as did their other daughter Rosemary.

Lady Benise has accepted the Government’s offer of a state funeral for Sir James. Details of the funeral will be announced shortly.

12 January 2007