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Thursday, 17 October 1996
Page: 5709


Mr McGAURAN (Minister for Science and Technology)(9.45 a.m.) —I wish to associate myself with the motion of condolence moved by the Prime Minister (Mr Howard) for the family of Mac Holten. I had the great pleasure of encountering Mac over the years—mostly at National Party forums—and, like everybody else, was struck by his natural charisma. He was a very lively character, and that was borne out by a very successful community and public career.

Mac was born in Melbourne in 1929. He left school at 16 to sell life insurance but joined the RAAF in 1940 and became a flying instructor and test pilot. After the war he played football for Collingwood. Indeed, he played some 82 games for Collingwood, I understand, as a centre halfback, which is testimony to his toughness and resolve—playing in that position for Collingwood is not for the faint-hearted. Mac was also Vice-Captain of the Melbourne Cricket Club at a time when that club was all-conquering. In 1949, as a 26-year-old, he was lured to Wangaratta to coach the Wangaratta Magpies. He had phenomenal success, leading them to four successive premierships, as well as becoming a star local and country weekend cricketer.

At around this time Mac was approached by the National Party—specifically, by a legendary figure of the time, Keith Bradbury MLC. Mac joined the National Party, stood for the seat of Indi in 1958 and won it. Mac was a very good local member, as people in that community will readily attest to. He was a hard campaigner, very resolute, with a sense of purpose. In fact, at one of our first meetings when I was a new member of parliament, he inquired as to whether I was a good campaigner and said to me, `There is one test.' I asked, `What's that, Mac?' And he said, `Do you ask them for their vote?' He never believed in meeting anybody on the campaign trail without actually asking them for their vote—and that is no easy thing to do, as all of us in this place know.

Mac had a distinguished career in parliament and, as has been said, was Minister for Repatriation between 1969 and 1972. He was also Minister Assisting the Minister for Trade, then Sir John McEwen. The Deputy Prime Minister (Mr Tim Fischer) has touched on his efforts to forge into Asia. Indeed, I take note of a press clipping of 29 May 1972 where Mac is reported as having led a delegation of six manufacturers of automotive parts to South-East Asia—specifically, into the countries of Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines. So Mac was treading that trade route long before it became so fashionable in the modern context.

Mac was a strong advocate for his electorate, particularly the textile industrial. If you look at his career, time and again you will see it marked by his strong defence of the interests of his textile and clothing industries, particularly the two mills that were in Wangaratta at the time. I am told that they were the Bruck mill and the Wangaratta woollen mills. Mac was a great all-round sportsman, as we know—football, cricket, anything. But, above all else, he used these sporting pursuits to encourage young people to push themselves and to strive for the very best, as he always did in his own public life.

After leaving parliament in 1977, Mac was appointed Administrator of Norfolk Island, the exact period being from 1980 until 1982. He remained in Wangaratta until only a few years ago when he shifted to Melbourne. I should say that I seem to recall Mac actually played in the Prime Minister's XI against a visiting international cricket team.


Mr Howard —The Windies.


Mr McGAURAN —It was against the Windies, Prime Minister? I thought it was England. That is the clerk's recollection too. But I am happy to bow to your more expert knowledge on things cricket.


Mr Howard —He seemed to know the Windies better.


Mr McGAURAN —In conclusion, the Border Mail , in its tribute to Mac of two days ago, 15 October, headed that article up with the headline `Splendid innings of a true leader'.

On behalf of the National Party of Victoria and the general community, I extend condolences to his wife Shirley, who was a great support to him in his role as a local member. She was an enthusiastic and dedicated campaigner, and is known to have been so by all of the National Party people of Indi. Our condolences are extended also to his daughters, Diana, Carolyn and Debbie, and his six beloved grandchildren.