Page 1513 - Week 04 - Thursday, 7 April 2011

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Thursday, 7 April 2011

MR SPEAKER (Mr Rattenbury) took the chair at 10 am and asked members to stand in silence and pray or reflect on their responsibilities to the people of the Australian Capital Territory.

Mr Alan Fitzgerald

Motion of condolence

MR STANHOPE (Ginninderra—Chief Minister, Minister for Transport, Minister for Territory and Municipal Services, Minister for Business and Economic Development, Minister for Land and Property Services, Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs and Minister for the Arts and Heritage): I move:

That this Assembly expresses its deep regret at the death of Mr Alan Fitzgerald, distinguished local journalist, author, and satirist, former member of the ACT Advisory Council, founder and former president of the National Press Club, and passionate commentator on life in Canberra, and tenders its profound sympathy to his family, friends and colleagues in their bereavement.

Mr Alan Fitzgerald, who died at the end of March at the age of 75, after almost half a century’s residence in our city, was a passionate but clear-eyed Canberran, an accomplished writer, a politician and a biting commentator on matters political and social. I acknowledge in the gallery today Mr Fitzgerald’s wife, Maria, his son Julian, his daughter-in-law, Jacqueline, and his grandson, Patrick.

Alan Fitzgerald was born in Sydney in 1935 and started out in the advertising industry, before moving into journalism. In his early career he worked in London and also edited the Fiji Times. On his arrival in Canberra in 1964, he was invited by the then editor of the Canberra Times, John Pringle, to write a satirical column for that newspaper. From those first columns, in which he cast an accurate, bitingly humorous but never cruel eye on the social mores and structures of his adopted city, Alan Fitzgerald built a career as a chronicler of a young and growing city that he had made his home.

His popularity was enduring, because he wrote for and about people like himself, young adults building careers and families, often without extended family for support, people creating a community out of nothing as suburb after suburb was carved from the landscape. Fortunately, it was a community more than willing to laugh at its own foibles, more than able to recognise its own absurdities and its sometimes overweening ambitions, a community made up, so it must have seemed to outsiders, entirely of public servants, diplomats and political advisers. In fact, of course it was more diverse. As Alan Fitzgerald wrote at the time:

Canberra, commonly held to be the Australian national capital, was planned by an American and today is designed by Dutchmen, owned by Greeks and built by Italians. The English, accustomed to positions of privilege in colonial societies, have taken over the P&C Associations.

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