Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Sittings . . . . PDF . . . .

Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 05 Hansard (Tuesday, 22 August 1995) . . Page.. 1180 ..


Fred Daly was born on 13 June 1913 at Currabubula, near Tamworth, the ninth child in an Irish Catholic family of 11. He was only 10 when his father died, leaving his mother in dire financial straits. The family property was sold off to pay the banks, and the Dalys moved to Sydney. But, as the Depression worsened, so too did their living conditions. Fred had been forced to leave school to work as a messenger boy, and now came the cruellest blow, as he watched his mother's health failing until finally she died. The suffering and misery that he saw all around him had a profound effect on Fred and were the catalyst which led him to join the Labor Party, “to improve the system”, as he put it. There have been few Australians, either inside or outside political life, who worked so tirelessly and with such unswerving commitment to achieve that goal as Fred Daly did.

He was the last survivor of the wartime government of John Curtin, whom he admired greatly, and of Ben Chifley, who was the strongest influence on him as a young politician. He joined the Waverley branch of the Labor Party in the depths of the Depression and entered Federal Parliament in September 1943 for the seat of Martin in Sydney. It must have been an interesting election because there were 11 candidates and he won with an absolute majority of more than 5,500 votes. After a redistribution in 1948, he stood for, and won, the seat of Grayndler, and continued to represent it until he retired in 1975. Last month, at the Australian Labor Party's ACT Branch Conference, Fred Daly was awarded life membership after an astonishing 58 years as a member of the party. It was a great pleasure to me to see Fred Daly at that conference, Mr Speaker, and to see that he looked well and in good spirits. He made a truly memorable and inspiring speech on the occasion of the presentation of his life membership.

Gough Whitlam was right, Mr Speaker, when he said that Fred should be remembered as being more than just an amusing public speaker and a heckler. After being in opposition for 23 years and fighting nine losing elections, Fred emerged in the new Whitlam Ministry as Leader of the House, holding firstly the Services and Property portfolio and then Administrative Services. Whitlam said:

The fact that everyone got votes at 18 is due to Fred Daly. The fact that every vote for the House of Representatives is of equal value is due to Fred Daly. The fact that there are regular distributions of electorates is due to Fred Daly. The fact that people in the Territories got votes for the Senate is due to Fred Daly. Representative government owes its gifts to Fred Daly.

Soon after he joined the Labor Party, Fred Daly joined a local debating society to improve his debating skills, and it was there that he met his wife-to-be, Teresa, who was a public servant in the taxation department. When they married, Fred was earning the princely sum of four pounds a week, and Teresa a little more. It was one of his greatest sadnesses that in 1975, before they could realise all their dreams of what they would do when Fred retired, Teresa died. Throughout all those hard, demanding and frustrating years, she had stood unswervingly beside him. Their two children, Margaret and Lawrence - or Laurie as he is known - have the deepest sympathy, I am sure, of all in this Assembly.


Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Sittings . . . . PDF . . . .