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Tuesday, 27 February 1973
Page: 19

Mr SNEDDEN (Bruce) (Leader of the Opposition) - On behalf of the Australian Liberal Party, the Opposition, I endorse the remarks made by the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) about the former members of this Parliament whom we are remembering today. One of them, Mr Thomas Patrick Burke, was a member of the Australian Labor Party, as the Prime Minister has said. He was identified by the late Mr Chifley as a man with a contribution to make and was encouraged by Mr Chifley to play an increasing role in the Australian Labor Party at the time. He achieved a position of influence in the Party sufficient to gain him quite significant support as a candidate in the leadership contest against the late Dr Evatt in 1954. He always rigidly adhered to his high principles and political philosophy in spite of the stormy conflicts into which this adherence frequently led him. He made an active and full contribution to the Parliament in the 12 years he was a member and was also active in outside community activities.

I have a particular interest in speaking of Tom Burke. I first knew him in 1943 when he was first elected to this House; I campaigned against him unsuccessfully in that year. I knew him in the interim period, but I next had a close association with him in 1951 when I stood as the candidate for the Liberal Party against Tom Burke in the electorate of Perth. On that occasion it was a double dissolution election. There were some closely contested electorates and the electorate of Perth was one in which the voting was extremely close. It so happened that I led on first preferences but was defeated on the distribution of preferences, if my memory serves me correctly, by 114 votes. I extend our sympathy to his wife and to his sons and daughters and I wish well his son who is now serving as a member of the Legislative Assembly in Western Australia, as was mentioned by the Prime Minister.

Mr JackMortimer became the member for Grey at a by-election in 1963. He won again in 1963 and was defeated in 1966. I remember him very well. I think it is fair to say that he endeared himself to members of both sides of the House, including those who campaigned against him in the by-election in the iron triangle of South Australia, as a gentle large man. I have no personal knowledge of this, but I am informed by honourable members on my side who knew him well that he had a reputation as a gun shearer. Certainly, he retained that tanned, lean look of the outback character and the fact that he met his death in the northwest of Western Australia did not come as a surprise to those of us who knew him. His determination in making speeches and - I am sure honourable members will remember this - the slow grin he used to silence interjectors will be remembered by his friends in this House.

The Honourable William James Frederick Riordan was a different man. He served in this Parliament for 30 years. He was a very big man, as I recall him. I served in this Parliament with him. He was a member of the last Labor Administration. His uncle had held the seat of Kennedy before him and had been influential in the coming to leadership of Mr Curtin in 1935. Members of his family were connected with politics and, as the Prime Minister said, served the public. He was a committed parliamentarian. He became Chairman of Committees and was actively and constructively involved in inter-parliamentary affairs, on which he represented Australia overseas. He was an earnest man. He made a solid contribution to the public life of this country as a Minister and as a member of this Parliament. Many members in this chamber will remember him, as 1 said, us u big man physically and as a sincere man with a friend y smile for all who walked through the corridors of Parliament House, regardless of their political party. We pay our respects to his memory and extend our sympathy to his sisters.

The Honourable Harold Victor Campbell Thorby represented the Australian Country Party. I did not know him, but he played an active part in the New South Wales Legislative Assembly for 8 years during the 1920s, the latter part of which was a difficult time, and as a Minister in the State House. In this Parliament, he represented an electorate for 9 years in the 1930s - again, a difficult decade - and he remained here until he was defeated in 1940. He was State Minister for Agriculture before entering Federal Parliament and held a number of portfolios in the Federal Government. I am informed that he was Deputy Leader of the Federal Parliamentary Country Party for 3 years. Outside the Parliament, as a farmer and grazier he entered into and made a valuable contribution to primary industry affairs, particularly through the Farmers and Settlers Association and the Graziers Association. He was a man of strong views, which he would state forcefully and with confidence, and his devoted work in the interests of the citizens of Australia entitles him to be remembered with respect.

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