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Tuesday, 12 May 2009
Page: 2394


Senator CHRIS EVANS (Leader of the Government in the Senate) (3:32 PM) —by leave—I move:

That the Senate records its deep regret at the death, on 1 May 2009, of George Conrad Hannan, former senator for Victoria, and places on record its appreciation of his long and meritorious public service and tenders its profound sympathy to his family in their bereavement.

George was born in Wagga Wagga in 1910. I always think of former Senator Kemp when I come across the name ‘Wagga Wagga’. He famously mispronounced it and I cannot look at it now without being reminded. I am sorry about that. After graduating from the University of Melbourne, George practised as a barrister and solicitor. During the Second World War he served as a radar officer with the Royal Australian Naval Volunteer Reserve.

George joined the Liberal Party shortly after its formation in 1944. He first entered parliament as a Liberal senator for Victoria in 1956 when he was chosen by the Victorian parliament to fill a casual vacancy. He successfully retained his seat at the 1958 election and served a full term before he was defeated in 1964. George was subsequently re-elected in 1970.

During his time as a senator, Senator Hannan served on a number of parliamentary committees, including the Senate Select Committee on the Encouragement of Australian Production for Television; the Senate Standing Committee on Education, Science and the Arts; the Senate Standing Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs; and the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs. He was also a member of the Australian delegation to the 53rd Annual Conference of the Inter-Parliamentary Union in Copenhagen in 1964 and was the parliamentary adviser to the Australian mission to the United Nations in 1971.

I did not have the pleasure of knowing former Senator Hannan but I understand he was particularly passionate about Australian television and radio and was a member of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board from 1968 to 1969. I understand that he regarded one of his main achievements as a senator to be his role in getting the federal parliament to place frequency modulation broadcasting on the VHF band. George also wrote the section of the 1963 Vincent report that recommended the establishment of the Australian Film Development Corporation, which is now the Australian Film and Television School—Australia’s premier film school. This report was produced by the Senate Select Committee on the Encouragement of Australian Productions for Television and played an important role in gathering support for a revival of the Australian television industry.

Senator Hannan remained a Liberal senator until his resignation in 1974. He then formed a breakaway group, the National Liberal Party, which was launched at the Melbourne Town Hall in March 1974. George was staunchly conservative in his political views and he often spoke of how his formation of the new party was a reaction to what he termed the ‘trendies’ in the Victorian Liberal Party. I am sure Senator Minchin will share his views in his contribution to this motion. He is clearly of the same mould. After Senator Hannan unsuccessfully contested the 1974 Senate election as a National Liberal Party candidate, he resumed his legal practice. As I said, he passed away on 1 May this year at age 98.

Senator Hannan was a respected member of the Senate. He was regarded as one of the Liberal Party’s best speakers during his time here. He made a valuable and colourful contribution to national political life. On behalf of the government, I offer our condolences to his wife, Eileen, his children, Judith, Peter, Michael and Eilene, and his family and friends.