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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2000 Week 5 Hansard (10 May) . . Page.. 1333 ..

Wednesday, 10 May 2000


The Assembly met at 10.30 am.

A quorum of members not being present, Mr Speaker (Mr Cornwell) ordered the bells to be rung. Fire bells ringing, Mr Speaker announced that the chair would be resumed at the ringing of the bells.

MR SPEAKER took the chair at 10.54 am and asked members to stand in silence and pray or reflect on their responsibilities to the people of the Australian Capital Territory.


MS CARNELL (Chief Minister): Mr Speaker, I move:

That the Assembly expresses its deep regret at the death of Sir William Keys, a distinguished soldier, a prominent resident of the Canberra region and former National President of the RSL and tenders its profound sympathy to his family in their bereavement.

It was with much sadness that I learnt of the death of Sir William Keys on Wednesday, 3 May 2000, at the age of 77. Sir William served the Australian community both abroad and at home, first in World War II and the Korean War and then as National President of the Returned and Services League, the RSL, from 1978 to 1988, a period of 10 years.

Born in Sydney on 2 February 1923, he grew up on the family farm at Bombala. He attended a one-teacher country school and later attended Hurlstone Agricultural High School, with the intention of becoming a farmer. Instead, he found his way into the army and from there ultimately to the RSL.

He was a fine man who has left a legacy of reconciling differences, rather than preserving grudges or ignoring past hurts. He actively sought reconciliation and friendship with Australia's former adversaries, and in this spirit he helped establish and was patron of the Korea and South East Asia Forces Association. He also served as the International President of the Federation of Korean War Veterans Associations. He helped lead the way in building a friendly and positive post-war relationship between Australia and Asia, and rallied to Australia's shift to multiculturalism.

There may be some comfort in knowing that he lived just long enough to see his comrades' service in Korea recognised when the long-awaited Korean War memorial opened here in Anzac Parade just before Anzac Day. In the wake of his death, those who had the pleasure of working with him or just knowing him have remembered him fondly and with pride. He was a distinguished man whom people have described as warm, generous, friendly and forthright.

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