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Thursday, 20 October 1983
Page: 2073

Mr GRIFFITHS(10.03) —This evening I wish to pay tribute to a former member for Maribyrnong, Mr Phil Stokes.

Mr McVeigh —Did you get the job?

Mr GRIFFITHS —If the honourable member for Darling Downs (Mr McVeigh) does not wish to pay his respects to a former member of the Liberal Party, let that be a matter for the public record. Mr Speaker, at the commencement of business today you informed the House of the death of Mr Stokes, a former member for the electorate of Maribyrnong. The House, of course, showed its respect in the traditional way. However, I wish to make a brief comment with respect to the late member on behalf of the constituents of Maribyrnong.

Whilst I did not know the former member personally I have often had occasion to meet many people who did know him at a personal level. If there is one consistent theme that comes through those discussions, it is the colourful character of the former member for Maribyrnong. It is in that respect that I would like to make a couple of comments. I went through some material that was provided by the Parliamentary Library. I was happy to discover an article that I think very much gives the flavour of the former member. I think it is worth bearing in mind that having won the seat in 1955-largely I would submit as a result of the then Labor Party split-he then went on to hold the seat against all odds for some 14 years until eventually it returned, to what it has always essentially been, a Labor Party seat. The article is quite an interesting one. It really does show the sort of personality that ensured that he was such a popular member for that period. I will quote from an article written by John Sorell in the Herald of 22 October 1969. It is entitled: 'Phil won't be lost if he loses'. Of course he did subsequently lose the seat. I will quote a couple of paragraphs of the article. Referring to Mr Stokes, it stated:

He said that after the recent redistribution was announced he had a conversation with Mr Gorton.

The conversation went like this--

Mr SPEAKER —Order! The honourable member for Hume, who is not seated within the precincts of the House, should know better than to attempt to interject in such circumstances.

Mr GRIFFITHS —Once again, I am not sure whether the honourable member for Hume ( Mr Lusher) is aware that I am trying to pay respects to a former and distinguished member of the Liberal Party. If he does not have the courtesy to remain silent on this occasion, I suggest he step outside the House. The article states:

He said that after the recent redistribution was announced he had a conversation with Mr Gorton.

The conversation went like this:

Gorton: How bad is it?

Stokes: Crook, really crook. I've been handed back Ascot Vale.

Gorton: Well I'll look around and find a safe seat for you.

Stokes: I won here, and I'll get beaten here. I'll go down with my colors nailed to the mast.

Gorton: Phil, I knew you'd say that. That's the sort of Cove you are.

Stokes: Thanks, John.

Gorton: If the worst comes to the worst your public life won't be ended. We'll find you a job.

Stokes: Thanks John. I feel I can still do a lot for the country.

End of conversation.

I think that does go some way to showing what a colourful character Mr Stokes was. He was not only a colourful character, he was a man of some substance who served his country with distinction. During the war, he was mentioned in despatches in the Middle East and subsequently served in New Guinea. Finally, on behalf of the electors of Maribyrnong, I express my condolences to the family and friends of Mr Stokes. I thank the House for its indulgence.