Bill's Speeches

Condolence: Hon. Arthur Thomas Gietzelt

Mr SHORTEN (Maribyrnong—Leader of the Opposition) (14:02):  On 5 January this year, the Labor Party lost a great servant in the Hon. Arthur Thomas Gietzelt. Arthur gave much of his adult life to the service of this nation: first as a soldier in the jungles of New Guinea, alongside his brother Ray—also a legendary union leader; then as a councillor in the Sutherland Shire for 15 years, including nine terms as mayor; and from 1971 to 1989 he was a senator for New South Wales.

Fittingly, for a lion of the Labor Party, Senator Gietzelt's first speech in the other place was a stinging repudiation of the Gorton government's budget. His long service did nothing to temper his rhetoric or dull his passion. Twenty-eight years later, in paying tribute to Arthur, the great John Button commented on their, shall I say, 'robust' policy discussions. John Button said: 'On a number of occasions I recall that he expressed disagreement in my office in a tone of voice which might even in this building have been heard on the House of Representatives side.'

Arthur would serve for four years as Minister for Veterans' Affairs in the Hawke government. For two years, he was Father of the Senate. He was always a powerful voice on numerous Senate committees. In his final act of Commonwealth service, Arthur explained that he timed his departure from the Senate to guarantee that his replacement would be another distinguished representative of Labor in the Senate, Senator John Faulkner.

When he left parliament, Arthur said: 'I have been able to do what I want with my life. There aren't too many who can say that.' Australia is fortunate that what Arthur wanted to do most was serve his nation. Today all of us in this place salute Arthur for his service to his community and to his country in war and in peace. On behalf of the parliamentary Labor Party, I send my condolences to Arthur's wife, Dawn, and to their three children and three grandchildren. May he rest in peace.