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Tuesday, 11 February 1986
Page: 242


Mr LEE —I wish to associate myself with the motion moved by the Prime Minister (Mr Hawke). Ray Thorburn served in theAustralian Parliament as the member for Cook for three years, as previous speakers have mentioned. During that time he was not only my local member of parliament but also a fellow member of the Cronulla branch of the Australian Labor Party. Ray Thorburn served as a councillor of the Sutherland Shire Council. Even after his election to this chamber, he continued to fulfil his duties as a local councillor until he had served out the full three-year term to which he had been elected.

On the election of Arthur Gietzelt to the Senate in 1971, Ray Thorburn became the Shire President of the Sutherland Shire. As Shire President he was responsible for many local initiatives, including the development of the Sutherland Civic Centre and the expansion of the E. G. Waterhouse National Camellia Gardens at Caringbah. The first political rally I attended was held in 1972 at Miranda. The current Prime Minister (Mr Hawke) spoke most eloquently in support of Ray Thorburn's candidature for the seat of Cook. Ray Thorburn was recognised as a hard working and accessible local member. I believe his greatest achievement was his success in persuading the then Prime Minister, Gough Whitlam, in 1974 to purchase the Towra Point wetlands to ensure that this unique wildlife refuge on Botany Bay was preserved for all time.

Following victories in the 1972 and 1974 elections, Ray was unsuccessful in 1975. Despite a devastating political and personal loss and a great deal of anger and bitterness amongst his supporters, Ray Thorburn conceded defeat with dignity and honour at the Liberal Party of Australia's election night celebration. Ray Thorburn also served his local community as a member of the Sutherland Hospital Board, a member of the Miranda Co-operative and as the President of the Cronulla Labor Workingmen's Club Ltd. Ray Thorburn spoke at the first meeting which I attended of the Cronulla branch of the Australian Labor Party in October 1972. The last time I attended the Cronulla branch of the Labor Party was as a visitor in June last year, when Ray Thorburn played an active role in the debate on tax reform.

On behalf of all current and former members of the Cronulla branch of the Labor Party and all honourable members of this House I extend to his wife, Joan, and his children, Peter and Ann, my sincere condolences on the loss of an Australian who worked very hard for the Sutherland Shire throughout his public life.