Page 231 - Week 01 - Thursday, 12 February 2015

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how these experiences helped form his collectivist politics. For those surprised that he earned a wage on the Thai-Burma railway, it was a stipend paid to circumvent the Geneva Convention.

He entered parliament as the member for Reid in 1958, a seat he went on to win at 13 consecutive elections, for a total of 32 years of parliamentary service. He was, unsurprisingly, the Father of the House at his retirement from representative politics in 1990.

It was in Tom Uren’s first speech to parliament that, speaking of progressive reforms, he said, “Every step forward has been won in the face of bitter opposition.” He was the first Labor MP to question support for the US intervention in Vietnam, and in 1971 he was jailed for refusing to pay a fine he received for marching in protest against the Vietnam War.

As we have heard, Tom Uren was a minister in both the Whitlam and Hawke governments, and, most consequentially for Canberra, he was the minister for territories and, later, for administrative services during the 1980s.

It was during this period that he and his staff conceived of the idea of a national park in the territory. It was with grit, determination and executive powers that he established the wonderful Namadgi national park which continues to protect the wilderness just beyond our city’s borders. As I am sure members are aware, Namadgi is the local Indigenous name for the mountains to the south-west of Canberra.

Mr Uren reportedly overruled the National Capital Development Authority at the time, who were less ambitious about the creation of a national park. It was a source of great pride to Mr Uren that he created Namadgi and he often cited it as one of his finest achievements.

Certainly in the recent celebrations of Namadgi’s 30th birthday, Mr Uren appeared in a documentary video about the creation of Namadgi national park, and you could see the passion with which he spoke of the national park. I think he enjoyed telling the story of the battle to create it.

Members may also be aware of the often-told story of Mr Uren that, as the minister for territories, he visited Lanyon Homestead and famously declared, “It stops here,” by which he meant that Canberra would sprawl no further than that point. At the time, the NCDC was planning for Canberra suburbs on both sides of the Murrumbidgee River. Given what we now know about the bushfire danger in the area, fortunately Tom Uren had the foresight to put a stop to the urban sprawl, and Canberrans continue to enjoy a corridor of natural bushland between the Murrumbidgee and Lanyon.

Tom Uren had a great affection for the ACT Parks and Conservation Service, an organisation I am fortunate enough to work closely with as the Minister for Territory and Municipal Services. In 1969, he was federal Labor’s first spokesperson on environmental issues. As a minister in the Whitlam government, he bought large areas of Glebe and Woolloomooloo, rehabilitated Fremantle and parts of Hobart, helped to

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