13 February 2019

Speech in Parliament: Tribute to the Hon. Gordon Scholes AO

My speech is below:
I too rise today to pay tribute to the Hon. Gordon Scholes AO, who died on 9 December 2018. It was my great honour to attend his funeral in Geelong on 18 December 2018 representing the Prime Minister. I had the opportunity to convey my condolences to his daughters, Kerry and Anne, and, of course, convey our condolences as a parliament and on behalf of the Prime Minister.

Across the political divide, I want to put on record Gordon Scholes was much loved and respected. He was well known to my parents. Michael, my father, was in local council. My mother was a member of parliament in the 1990s. Gordon was for many, many years, a leading figure in our community. Of course, we have just heard from the member for Corio. As the other federal member representing Geelong, along with other parts of the Corangamite electorate, it’s very important that I also stand here today and say thank you for everything that he did for our community.

It was very moving at his funeral service to hear from the former Geelong state member of parliament Ian Trezise, a very close friend of Gordon Scholes, about the contribution that he made to our community, including Gordon Scholes’s involvement in bringing Deakin University to Geelong, which, according to Ian Trezise, was one of his greatest highlights. He said that we owe a great deal to the involvement of Mr Scholes, who understood the power of education and the importance of strong regional growth.

Gordon Scholes is widely remembered as a loyal and respected man who fought very hard for the people he represented from 1967 through to 1993. He was re-elected 10 times—no mean feat. He loved his constituents and he went into politics for all the right reasons. He was very disappointed with the prospective closure of a local kindergarten, and he took up the fight. As a result of that fight, he decided to enter politics. He made us all very proud in our community, and I put all politics aside. He made us very proud. We didn’t always have to agree with everything, of course, that he stood for as a member of the Labor Party, but as a force to be reckoned with and as a leader in the Geelong community for such a long time, as I say, he was widely loved and respected.

He was a member of the Australian Labor Party. He joined in 1955. He was President of the Geelong ALP branch from 1962 to 1964 and President of the Geelong Trades Hall Council from 1965 to 1966. He was also a Geelong counsellor from 1965 to 1967. He loved the parliament, as we heard yesterday from the Prime Minister, and he served in a number of very distinguished roles. After the election of the Hawke government he served as the Minister for Defence from 1983 to 1984 and as Minister for Territories from 1984 to 1987. He was also the Speaker from 27 February 1975 to 16 February 1976, a period which encompassed the dismissal of the Whitlam government—the most tumultuous time in our country’s political history, I think it is fair to say. He was a stable force in the tide of great unrest at that time. Gordon Scholes was well recognised as someone who did a very good job in the seat of the Speaker at a very difficult time in our nation’s history. Again, I convey my condolences to Kerry and to Anne, to his family, and I say: vale, Gordon Scholes. Thank you.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Laundy):  I thank the member. I understand it is the wish of honourable members to signify at this stage their respect and sympathy by rising in their places.

Honourable members having stood in their places—

The DEPUTY SPEAKER:  I thank the Chamber.