Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 1 Hansard (13 December) . . Page.. 191 ..
Thursday, 13 December 2001
The Assembly met at 10.30 am.
MR SPEAKER (Mr Berry) took the chair and asked members to stand in silence and pray or reflect on their responsibilities to the people of the Australian Capital Territory.
Death of Sir Gordon Freeth KBE
MR STANHOPE (Chief Minister, Attorney-General, Minister for Health, Minister for Community Affairs and Minister for Women): I move:
That the Assembly expresses its deep regret at the death of Sir Gordon Freeth KBE, a former Minister for the Interior and Works, and tenders its profound sympathy to his family in their bereavement.
Mr Speaker, it is with much sadness that we have learned of the recent death of Sir Gordon Freeth in November of this year. Sir Gordon Freeth was born in Angaston, South Australia, on 6 August 1914. He attended Sydney Church of England Grammar School, before moving to Guildford Grammar in Western Australia. He graduated in law from the University of Western Australia in 1938, the same year that he rowed in the winning Australian four at the Sydney Empire Games. During the next year, he married and set up as a barrister and solicitor in Western Australia.
In 1942, he became a pilot for the RAAF, flying Beauforts in New Guinea, and he was a flight lieutenant by the time he was demobilised in 1945. After the war he became prominent in local affairs. This led to his subsequent election to the House of Representatives in 1949 as a member for the seat of Forrest. He held this seat until the 1969 federal election. He was appointed Australian Ambassador to Japan from 1970 to 1973, and was then High Commissioner in London from 1977 to 1980. Sir Gordon was created a Knight of the British Empire in the New Year's honours list of 1978. He died at the age of 87 in Western Australia, on 27 November 2001.
His association with the ACT was as a politician, as a minister and as a member of the Menzies, Holt and Gorton governments. That association was heightened from 1958 to 1963, when he was Minister for the Interior and Works. In this role he was responsible for the Australian Capital Territory.
In 1958, he took over the role of Minister for the Interior just after the legislation establishing the National Capital Development Corporation was passed. The expectation at the time was that the Minister for the Interior should live in Canberra. Although his family stayed on in Western Australia, he fulfilled this expectation by taking a flat in the city and declaring Canberra as his principal residence.
He was also noted for following Sir Paul Hasluck's example of acquiring a small runabout car to use for private business, even though he was entitled to an official car at all times. This adherence to principle must have caused him a headache or two. The story