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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 10 Hansard (Wednesday, 17 October 2007) . . Page.. 2993 ..

Wednesday, 17 October 2007

MR SPEAKER (Mr Berry) took the chair at 10.30 am and asked members to stand in silence and pray or reflect on their responsibilities to the people of the Australian Capital Territory.

Death of Dr Ken Fry

Motion of condolence

MR STANHOPE (Ginninderra—Chief Minister, Treasurer, Minister for Business and Economic Development, Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Minister for the Environment, Water and Climate Change, Minister for the Arts): I move:

That this Assembly expresses its deep regret at the death of Dr Ken Fry, inaugural President of the ACT Branch of the Australian Labor Party and first member for the seat of Fraser, an honourable and highly principled politician, and tenders its profound sympathy to his family and friends in their bereavement.

A week ago today Dr Ken Fry, the Labor member for the seat of Fraser in the commonwealth parliament from 1974 to 1984, died at home at Broulee on the South Coast. The government extends its deepest condolences to Ken’s family and friends. He will be sadly missed. Though his role as organiser of the ALP’s left meant that he was never really likely to obtain a ministerial portfolio, Ken was the kind of rock-solid backbencher every party desperately wants and only sometimes finds. Decent, caring, principled and unerring, he was for many of his colleagues a valued moral compass. For the following generation of Labor politicians he was a genuine role model.

Ken is perhaps best remembered in the parliament for his courageous campaign for the cause of East Timorese independence, particularly in the hazardous days in the aftermath of the 1975 Indonesian invasion of East Timor. Fittingly, East Timorese President Jose Ramos-Horta recently said that it was Ken Fry who taught him about friendship, solidarity and compassion.

In a long and distinguished career, Ken steadily conveyed to those around him, either through an unswerving moral stand or determined action, the wisdom he gained through the coalface experiences of the Depression and war, bust, boom and, on occasion, bastardry. Ken was of the old school, someone who understood battler Australia. He never lost his sympathy for the underdog, the underprivileged, and he never lost the clarion voice to speak out when the issue demanded it.

The youngest of seven children, Ken Fry was a product of the Great Depression. Born in Inverell, he spent most of his early years in or around Ben Chifley’s Bathurst. He graduated from Hawkesbury Agricultural College in 1938 but, like so many of his generation, he joined the Australian Army in the first years of World War II as the Japanese threat to Australia’s north intensified. He was in an Army intelligence unit, where he met and befriended the Army boxing champion Tom Uren, another extraordinary individual of principle and passion destined to become, in post-war Australia, a leader of the Labor left. Tom and Ken would remain the best of mates for the rest of their lives.

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