Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 7 Hansard (4 June) . . Page.. 1806 ..
MR CORNWELL: Mr Speaker, I would like to speak briefly on this matter. I am probably one of the few persons, if not the only person, in this chamber who served the Liberal Party under the prime ministership of Sir John Gorton. I would like to express my condolences on behalf of what I regret to say is a dwindling group of people in my position, who are still active within the party, and on behalf of those who have retired from that active life.
I think it is fair to say that most of the people I speak for remember Sir John with affection. He was certainly not what you could call a Prime Minister without controversy. I suppose that can be said of most prime ministers, but in his case it was not in a simple political context. His arrival on the political scene in the prime ministerial position certainly shook up the Liberal Party, which had become used to a certain mode of operation, particularly under Sir Robert Menzies.
I think history will judge him more kindly perhaps than some of his contemporaries. It has already been said that Sir John brought the party into the 20th century. Like Mr Wood, I have mixed feelings about some of the things he did. Nevertheless, he was a very dedicated and loyal nationalist. I extend condolences on my behalf and on behalf of the number of people in the party here in the ACT who had the privilege and pleasure of serving under him.
MR SMYTH: Mr Speaker, many have summarised the activities and achievements of Sir John Gorton, but there is one thing that has yet to be mentioned. I would like to read the entry under "Gorton, J" in volume 1 of the Encyclopaedia of Aboriginal Australia. It just reads:
John Grey Gorton (b 1911), Prime Minister (1968-71) of the first government to appoint a minister whose sole responsibility was Aboriginal affairs. For his first seven weeks in office (January-February 1968), Gorton held the position himself as member of the Executive Council in charge of Aboriginal affairs. He ceded the responsibility when his government appointed WC Wentworth as minister in charge of Aboriginal affairs under the Prime Minister on 28 February 1968.
It is interesting. Here is a man with a commitment to education, the arts and Aboriginal affairs; here is a larrikin, a speaker, a man with forthright ideas and an ardent nationalist. Yet he is a Prime Minister about whom we know very little except his self-demise, as it were. One of his outstanding achievements and one of the things that he will be remembered a long time for is the elevation of the role of Aboriginal affairs to the cabinet.
Question resolved in the affirmative, members standing in their places.
Legal Affairs-Standing Committee
Scrutiny Report No 13 of 2002
MR STEFANIAK: I present the following report:
Legal Affairs-Standing Committee (performing the duties of a Scrutiny of Bills and Subordinate Legislation Committee)-Scrutiny Report No 13, dated 29 May 2002, together with a copy of the relevant extracts of the minutes of proceedings.