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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 7 Hansard (4 June) . . Page.. 1804 ..

MR STEFANIAK (continuing):

He was always happy to help young people. In 1993 my stepson was doing an assignment in year 12 at Narrabundah College. John Gorton said to me, "Bring him around"-it was a political assignment-"I'll help him out with it." I remember that well because my stepson had a shoelace undone and I said, "For goodness sake, you're seeing an ex-Prime Minister. Do your shoelace up." My stepson had a go at me for that, but he did do it up.

John Gorton sat down with him, and they went on so long that I had to go back to work at Manuka-I was working with Bernard Colleary at that time in a legal practice-and then come back to pick up my young bloke. They had gone on for about an hour and a half. Needless to say, my stepson was thoroughly impressed with the assistance he received from John Gorton. John Gorton was that sort of bloke.

He was a very brave man, as indicated not only by his experience as a fighter pilot in World War II but also by the fact of his voting himself out of office-he was morally brave as well as physically brave. He was a real Australian and I think history will record him as one of our better prime ministers, certainly better than some of his rivals, such as Malcolm Fraser.

He lived in Canberra until he was pretty close to his death; he was an old man when he moved to Sydney. I certainly continued to see him around Manuka, Narrabundah and various places until he moved to Sydney. I would like to put on record my appreciation for the various bits of assistance John Grey Gorton gave to me and my family and to honour the passing of a truly great Australian and a great Australian Prime Minister.

MS TUCKER: The Greens would also like to add our voice to this condolence motion for John Gorton. The details of Sir John Gorton's life and career have been covered in detail by others, so I will just make a few comments. In the context of an increasingly conservative government, the liberal approach to public policy that was practised by Mr Gorton has become increasingly rare. It was during his brief tenure as Prime Minister that the groundwork was laid for the Australia Council for the Arts and for the Australian Film, Television and Radio School.

Gorton recognised the importance of cultural development to positive national identity and was prepared to make public investment in the development and support of Australian art and entertainment. He was also, until his death, a member of the Australian Parliamentary Group for Drug Law Reform. His position on this contentious topic was courageous and was clearly formed by his understanding of the issues rather than its political palatability or usefulness.

Arguably, Gorton's idiosyncratic approach to his role was the cause of his undoing. Nonetheless, it is through the individuality and personality of public figures that we remember them, understand them and, in this case, respect them. I express my sympathy to his family and friends.

MRS DUNNE: John Grey Gorton was for many years, during and after his political life, a familiar sight in and around Canberra, and his presence will be remembered by many. Canberrans will remember him as the author of the "Gorton gift". He changed the way we look at land in Canberra and the way we do planning in the ACT.

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