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Thursday, 17 October 1996
Page: 5707

Mr HOWARD (Prime Minister)(9.31 a.m.) —I move:

That the House expresses its deep regret at the death on Saturday, 12 October 1996 of the Honourable Rendle McNeilage (Mac) Holten, CMG, a Member of this House for the Division of Indi from 1958 to 1977, Minister for Repatriation from 1969 to 1972 and Minister Assisting the Minister for Trade and Industry from 1971 to 1972, places on record its appreciation of his long and meritorious public service, and tenders its profound sympathy to his family in their bereavement.

Mac Holten was born on 29 March 1922 and was educated at Scotch College in Melbourne. At the age of 19, he enlisted in the Royal Australian Air Force, serving as a flying instructor and test pilot until 1946 when he left the air force with the rank of flight lieutenant. Mac was a retail grocer before entering federal politics. He became a member of this House in 1958 when he won the Victorian seat of Indi for the then Country Party.

In his maiden speech to the parliament, he reflected on his wide-ranging concerns—from education and the importance of research to assistance for home ownership, to the difficulties faced by primary producers and industry, to foreign policy where Mac perceived that Australia's traditional ties with Britain and the United States must be juxtaposed with its geographical location in Asia, issues that are as relevant today as they were then.

During his 19 years in this parliament, he contributed actively to the work of a number of parliamentary committees. He served on the Joint Committee of Foreign Affairs from 1962 to 1966, the Joint Statutory Committee of Public Works from 1967 to 1969 and the House Committee from 1974 to 1977. Mac was Minister for Repatriation for three years, between 1969 and 1972, and in 1971 and 1972 he also served as Minister Assisting the Minister for Trade and Industry.

His public service did not end after his departure from federal politics in 1977. In 1980 he was appointed Administrator of Christmas Island. In the same year he was appointed a Companion of the Most Distinguished Order of St Michael and St George for his parliamentary and community service.

I personally served in the federal parliament with Mac Holten for a period of three years, from 1974 to 1977. He was an affable person who enjoyed social discourse. He enjoyed celebrating and relaxing with his friends in a convivial fashion. From my recollection he was a great lover of sport, in particular a great lover of cricket and Australian rules football. I know that he will be greatly missed by those in the now National Party of Australia, the successor to the then Country Party, and by other members of the coalition and by the broader political community who knew him well.

On behalf of the government, I extend to his wife Shirley, to his children, Diana, Carolyn and Debbie, and to their families our very sincere sympathy in the loss of her husband and their father.