DEATH OF VINCENT PATRICK DURICK, A FORMER MEMBER OF THE LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY
Mr CARR (Maroubra - Premier, Minister for the Arts, and Minister for Ethnic Affairs) [7.30]: I move:
Tonight I pay tribute to a man who dedicated 20 years of his life to public service. Vince Durick began his parliamentary career in 1964 when he was elected member for Lakemba. He was a hard-working and dedicated member of Parliament who fulfilled a number of different roles including, in the late 1970s, chairing the Public Accounts Committee, the Joint Committee upon Drugs, and the Joint Committee upon Public Accounts and Financial Accounts of Statutory Authorities. Although I was not a member of this House at that time I associate his name with initiatives on each of those three fronts. Vince retired in 1984, but he never lost his passion for politics. Until a few months before he died he remained an active member of his local community, regularly assisting in his old electorate office and playing a key role in the campaign of the current member for Lakemba, Tony Stewart, during the last election.
Vince was a good friend to many on both sides of the House, and a loyal husband and father. He was also a keen sportsman and a great follower of rugby league. In his electorate he was widely known, well liked and highly respected. This was helped by the fact that he had a photographic memory for names and faces. One of his former secretaries tells how he used to arrive at the office on a Monday morning with pocketfuls of notes jotted down on the backs of drink coasters, business cards and scraps of paper - the result of his many conversations with constituents over the weekend. Few of us find ourselves in that same position. He probably did so more than most. During his career as member for Lakemba, Vince experienced some difficult times as the electorate underwent a major demographic transition. Today the Lakemba electorate is one of Australia's finest examples of multiculturalism in action. Vince was instrumental in sowing the seeds for this success.
While Vince was a man of many talents and qualities, he is probably best known for his mastery of mathematics. He was born in Broken Hill, and attended teachers college in Sydney. He spent many years as a maths teacher, which were interrupted by a three-year stint in the armed service, before entering politics. He undertook higher studies in mathematics, gaining a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Sydney in 1948. He always enjoyed the challenge of working with numbers, whatever the setting. I imagine the Labor Party in the 1950s provided a fertile setting for working with numbers. Vince also put his skills to use when it came to Australian Labor Party submissions on electoral redistributions. In this respect he was regarded as the master; there was no-one to rival him. One of his parliamentary colleagues, Kevin Stewart, has said that up until several months ago Vince, by that stage in a nursing home, was still engrossed in analysing the rolls and checking the numbers.
Neville Wran was one among current and former State and Federal members who sought his advice. He was a great friend and supporter of the New South Wales Police Service, a stance that did not diminish despite the revelations of recent times. We offer our sincere condolences to his wife Mary, who is known as Molly, to his children and relatives, and to the many friends he left behind. They can find consolation in the fact that Vince enjoyed a very rich life indeed. He had adventures in public affairs, he contributed to the welfare of his electorate and his State, and he is regarded highly by all those who knew him.
Mr COLLINS (Willoughby - Leader of the Opposition) [7.34]: I join with the Premier in paying tribute to Vince Durick for the contribution he made to public life in this State. Some 80 years ago, as the Great War raged in Europe, Vince Durick was born in the great Australian outback town of Broken Hill. His life was, in many ways, a reflection of the history of New South Wales: a boy who grew up and attended school in Broken Hill, whose family lived through the Great Depression; a teenager who left home at the age of 17 to study at Sydney Teachers College, returning to his home town at the age of 20 to take up a teaching position at his old school. At the age of 24 Vince Durick married Molly, who remained his wife for 55 years. Soon after, like many young Australians born during World War I, Vince was of fighting age when World War II broke out. He joined the Citizen Military Forces and then the Second AIF.
Following the war, Vince returned to his career as a schoolteacher, ultimately completing 28 years of service with the Department of Education.
His teaching career spanned a period of massive change for education, with the baby boomers causing a population explosion and a massive building program for New South Wales schools. It was also a time known for the feminisation of the New South Wales teaching service, when women advanced from filling a minority to a majority of places, helped by the demise of the policy which forced women to resign their jobs when they married. When Vince Durick left the teaching service to become the member for Lakemba in 1964, the education system and the Australian Labor Party were still deeply divided by the State aid debate, a defining time for choice and standards in our education system today.
In his maiden speech, however, Vince spoke not of politics and education but of positive improvements he had seen to equity and standards in schools. He welcomed an Industrial Commission decision to award a significant pay rise to teachers, describing it as some salary justice which would enhance the status of teachers and "may lead to the recruiting of better types of young boys and girls into the profession". He spoke too of expansion in opportunities for children to pursue tertiary education. It is interesting to look back over 30 years and acknowledge that many of the issues that challenge governments have a certain pattern. In this spirit I note that Vince Durick's last address to the House in late 1983 was in the form of a question without notice to the then police Minister, the Hon. Peter Anderson, regarding allegations of Kings Cross police misconduct. He asked questions about allegations which arose in the course of inquiries into the disappearance of Juanita Nielson.
During his 20 years as member for Lakemba Vince Durick and his family also saw through a period of momentous change in Sydney's development as a city and as a multicultural society. When Vince Durick was first elected to Parliament his electorate of Lakemba extended to the old suburb of Herne Bay, which was renamed Riverwood. Vince Durick expressed his hope at the time that the housing commission redevelopment of the area would result in a model garden suburb. The plan included the use of controlled tipping to convert mangrove wetlands, which were described in those days as a wasteland and an eyesore, into playing fields with room for an expressway. Since that time there have been considerable changes in the prevailing policies of governments of both persuasions and in the beliefs and challenges that confront communities in metropolitan and rural New South Wales. But Vince Durick's life contained elements that must not change. Although he stood on the other side of the Chamber to members of the Liberal and National Parties he was good- humoured and generous in his praise for individual members who won his respect regardless of their party.
In his valedictory speech to this House he thanked his wife and the Speaker for their support with a genuine tone of appreciation that belied the fact that he had contested the position of Speaker and lost after a tied vote, when the job was drawn out of a hat. He took most time in his speech to recall and to acknowledge the assistance of those in the Parliament who are often not thanked - the clerks, the attendants and, indeed, a former chef whom he believed had suffered an injustice. Vince Durick was a loyal member of his party with a straightforward vision of family values, greater progress in education, accessible, affordable, quality housing developments for families, and respect for our police force. These were and ought to be the causes of all members on both sides of the House. On behalf of the Opposition, I acknowledge the contribution made by Vince Durick, and extend sympathy to his wife Molly, his children and grandchildren for their loss.
Mr WHELAN (Ashfield - Minister for Police) [7.41]: It is with great sadness that I join with the Leader of the Opposition and the Premier in this motion of condolence to a very fine man. My entry into Parliament in 1976 was principally due to the support I received from people such as Vince Durick. Even though I won by some several thousand votes, Vince always believed that you had to be there to scrutineer and count every vote. His love of politics was matched only by his love of mathematics, percentages and figures. Scrutineers well know how valuable a resource Vince Durick was with his specialist knowledge, whether about mathematics or redistribution.
He was a fine worker for the people of his electorate of Lakemba, whom he represented for many years. He was widely respected in this House. My predecessor, a fine man named David Hunter, had been afflicted by blindness since birth. He once related a story to me about him, Kevin Stuart and Vince Durick. They would often go home together, Kevin driving. On one occasion they went inside David's house. Because David was blind and he lived on his own he never had any light bulbs in the house. So David wandered into the house, with Kevin Stuart and Vince Durick groping in the darkness, trying to find light switches that had not been turned on for 20 to 30 years. As those three were wont to do they decided to have a drink, eventually found it in the darkness, and sat down, David being much more at home in the darkness than the other two. They then decided to make a cup of tea. Vince was a smoker, and as he lit the gas jet, which had not been used in 30 years, the mixture of oxygen and gas resulted in the whole kitchen erupting in flame. But David was not aware that it had happened.
Vince had great friends from all sides of politics. He was regarded by his opposites as being a most extraordinary scrutineer. I can recall working in by-elections and elections in the 1960s and 1970s with a Liberal scrutineer, Bill Wakeling, who got on very well with Vince. Honourable members might not recall, but Wakeling was a terror for the Liberal Party in scrutineering contests. When enthusiastic scrutineers were going hammer
and tongs as to whether the "1" was a "7" or the "7" was a "1", Bill Wakeling and Vince Durick would always be regarded as the mentors. Vince Durick was a marvellous worker in the Parliament. He was Chairman of the Joint Committee upon Drugs and, as the Premier said, Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee.
He was respected by all members on this side of the House as a man of great affection, a man whom I can honestly say never had one ounce of hate in his heart or in his mind for any individual. He left a great legacy for the Labor Party. He looked after his constituents with both the affection and professionalism that one would expect of a member of the calibre of Vince. To Molly, Tom, Helen and the rest of the family: please accept sincere sympathy from Colleen and me on the loss of your husband and father. He was a fine man. The Parliament will not get another like him.
Mr ARMSTRONG (Lachlan - Leader of the National Party) [7.44]: I join with the Premier and the Leader of the Opposition and other members of Parliament in paying respect on behalf of the National Party to the family of the late Vince Durick, particularly to his wife Molly, their children and their grandchildren. I came into this Parliament in 1981. Vince Durick came in 1965 and went out in 1984, so I had three years with him. Vince Durick was another one of the old school who has gone. There was a raft of them in the 1980s, people who represented their party and their constituents with great honesty, great integrity and great sincerity. They were people who understood the world and who were fiercely proud of the democratic system.
It is on these occasions, sadly, that we probably take our first serious look at the history and background of a member. Vince Durick was born in Broken Hill in 1916. He attended the local convent. He was a pretty handy footballer. He began teaching in 1936 at the Central School in North Broken Hill, then went to Euston down on the Murray River. In 1941 he went into the army. In 1946 he moved from Euston to Lakemba in the western suburbs of Sydney - almost like Hannibal crossing the Alps for a man who spent all of his life in the far west of the State. In his middle years he went to university and graduated in 1948 with a Bachelor of Arts degree. Vince Durick was a man of great resolve. Anybody who was born and educated in Broken Hill in those days certainly knew what life was about. It probably equipped him well to come into this Parliament and adequately represent his people.
As Vince Durick was a member of the Labor Party and as I was a member, in those days, of the Country Party, which is now the National Party, we were on completely opposite sides of the Parliament. But I would like to put on record the respect of the National Party for Vince Durick as a man of integrity and a man who, probably having put aside ambitions to rise higher, chose to represent his people from the back bench. He found himself a niche and performed there very ably. His family can take considerable solace from the major contribution Vince Durick made not only to his constituents but to the Parliament of New South Wales. In our history he should be accorded great respect.
Mr STEWART (Lakemba) [7.47]: In terms of addressing a condolence motion one can be easily tempted to begin from a remorseful and sad perspective. However, this is not the perspective that Vincent Patrick Durick would have appreciated in his memory. Vince Durick was a man who celebrated life in every way, and I am sure the way he should best be remembered is for that celebration. Most importantly, Lakemba constituents join with members of this House in historical recognition of what Vince's life meant and how through this celebration he was able to use his very special talents to contribute to the needs of his family, his constituents and this House. Therefore, It is not with the deepest regret that I speak to this condolence motion, because I know that Vincent Patrick Durick lived a full and relatively long life. He achieved a great deal in his lifetime, leaving behind a legacy that Lakemba constituents, this House and, importantly, his family can be proud of. Vince Durick was in every way a truly extraordinary man.
If one examines his earlier years it would be hard to pinpoint that Vince's journey in life would eventually lead him to the great honour of being elected as the second member for Lakemba. Vince began his life in 1916 when he was born at Broken Hill. During dinnertime conversations Vince always spoke to me about the need for good breeding stock, and he certainly could have put up his hand in that regard in relation to his immediate family. Vince's father, who went to Broken Hill in 1908, ironically for what was to be a two-week period, decided to stay, and ended up leaving there in 1950. He met his wife in Broken Hill. In the intervening period Vince's father worked in the Big Mine and then at the Silverton Tramway Company, where he finally retired as traffic manager.
Vince's father was the first president of the famous Broken Hill Silverton Tramway Company employees union at a time when to be a union official was very unpopular with employers. Vince informed me during one conversation that his mother was a member of the local Cogan family at Broken Hill and grew up in a famous house in Bagot Street. The family, I was informed by Vince, had a wonderful garden surrounded by trees, in particular two huge mulberry trees which everyone in Broken Hill knew about. It was basically the talk of the town, how the trees survived and flourished in a town that had little water. The Cogan home was a celebrated home of socialism and some of its famous visitors included Bob Ross and his wife, the parents of Lloyd and Edgar; Bob Heffron, who later became Premier of New South Wales; and Tom Hytton, later Professor of Economics at the University of Tasmania.
Vince's uncle Paddy Lamb was the former President of the Workers Industrial Union of Australia and a member of the Compensation Commission after its formation. Another of Vince's uncles was Bill Dickson, a former editor of the famous Barrier Daily Truth and later President of the New South Wales Legislative Council. With this family background Vince was raised in the political arena and grew up in a strong egalitarian atmosphere of Labor politics that served to foster his later politics and success as an astute member of this Parliament.
Vince Durick attended Railway Town convent school in Broken Hill until the Marist Brothers college opened in 1928. After completing his Intermediate Certificate he proceeded to senior school and from there to Sydney Teachers College. Vince was also a great sportsperson. Many people do not realise that he played first-grade football and he often told the story of how in his first game with the Broken Hill centrals he kicked five goals which were instrumental in the team winning on that day. It was a great achievement, given that that was the first game he had ever played with the team. He also played first-grade cricket in his late teens and was renowned for his cricketing skills.
Vince began teaching in 1936 at Broken Hill central school and subsequently taught at Euston and also at North Broken Hill school. In December 1941 he joined the 10th Battalion at Bathurst. He spent three years in the armed services and was finally discharged on medical grounds whereupon he resumed teaching at North Broken Hill school. In 1946 Vince transferred from that school to Lakemba public school, where he taught for a period of three years. This transfer would eventually change the focus of his life. During that period Vince undertook a correspondence course and obtained a postgraduate degree in mathematics. It was a tremendous effort at the time - raising a family, teaching, and studying for a postgraduate degree in mathematics.
Many honourable members from both sides of the political fence, both past and present, can certainly testify that Vince's astute actuarial skills were later to become a tremendous asset to the Labor governments that he served, and also a formidable weapon against his political opponents. In 1949 Vince transferred to the State high school system and taught mathematics at Bowral, Homebush Boys High School, Fairfield and, finally, James Cook High School at Kogarah. During this period Vince undertook an additional three-year course in mathematics, further advancing his incredible actuarial skills.
Vince Durick was first elected to the New South Wales Parliament in September 1964 and was re-elected an amazing seven times before retiring in 1984. During that period Vince attained a tremendous reputation for his hard work and diligence. He served on numerous parliamentary committees, too many to mention in the context of this condolence motion. However, I think it is important to mention that he was the chairperson of the Public Accounts Committee from 1976 to 1978 and of the Joint Committee upon Drugs from 1976 to 1978. He was very involved in the latter committee, which was the forerunner to the commitment of this Parliament and of Labor Governments to do something about the tremendous drug problems that face our youth.
Vince was concerned to make sure that the priorities were put in place to deal with that problem. Vince was also chairperson of the Public Accounts Committee between 1978 and 1980. Although Vince will be remembered for his hard work and diligence in this Parliament, perhaps his most respected and honoured achievement was his ability to be an outstanding local member for the Lakemba electorate for an amazing 20-year period. Vince saw through a transition in the Lakemba electorate during a time when the demographics of the electorate had significantly changed; a time when immigration changed the face of the electorate and it became perhaps the best example of multicultural Australia.
Vincent Patrick Durick was certainly one of a kind and will be sadly missed by all. Despite his age and varying health problems he remained active in the local community and also provided great advice and support for many State and Federal Labor members of Parliament, past and present. He was actively involved in my recent election campaign during 1995, providing strategic advice and often manning my campaign office. Amazingly, the advice that Vince gave was so tuned in to events that I managed to gain one of the most significant results for a Labor-held seat, picking up a 19 per cent majority. I can assure this House that a lot of that was due to the advice that Vince gave to me and to the campaign committee during the campaign. I will sadly miss Vincent Patrick Durick. My predecessor, Wes Davoren, equally recognised the input of Vince Durick. The local newspaper reported that Mr Davoren said of Vince Durick:
That this House extends to Mrs Durick and family the deep sympathy of the Members of the Legislative Assembly in the loss sustained by the death of Vincent Patrick Durick, a former Member of the Legislative Assembly.
Vince was State MP for the Lakemba Electorate for 20 years and during this period he was able to successfully oversee many difficult times as the Electorate went through an intensive demographic transition. To-day Lakemba Electorate is one of Australia's finest examples of a great multicultural community and it was Vince Durick who was instrumental in sowing the seeds for this success.
Vince also played an integral role in the NSW State Parliament and he was renowned and respected by all sides of politics for his superb actuarial skills.
Perhaps the best way to conclude my comments is to quote from Vince Durick's maiden speech to this House in October 1964. At the end of his contribution Vince referred to Stan Wyatt, whose death had caused the by-election and Vince's election to this House. He said:
Vince's death has certainly left a great gap in our local community but his life and accomplishments have left our community with a wonderful legacy that can never be forgotten.
Vincent Patrick Durick has attained that goal, as demonstrated to the community at large, to this House, to the constituents of Lakemba and, most importantly, to his family. It was an historic achievement to serve this Parliament at a time of difficulty and transition, an achievement that can never be forgotten. The legacy of Vincent Patrick Durick will I hope provide a barometer for my future successes in the Lakemba electorate; certainly, the background and the framework that Vince put in place are the basic frameworks that I and my local community rely on.
Mr BECKROGE (Broken Hill) [7.59]: Broken Hill has been mentioned in many speeches tonight. It was a proud moment for me at St Therese's, Lakemba, to farewell Vince and to hear his daughter speak eloquently of her father. I came into Parliament in 1981 as the member for Broken Hill, but not someone who had been born and bred in that town. As far as Vince was concerned, I entered politics with a handicap. I had difficulty getting to know everybody in Parliament, but Vince took me under his wing in his old schoolteacher fashion - taking no nonsense and always keen to look after you. He was a great man. When I entered Parliament as a young man Vince was marvellous and made me feel very welcome. I won my preselection not exactly by fluke, but I was not the flavour of the month amongst the old guard because I was not from Broken Hill.
Vince led a team of people to Broken Hill for a race meeting. It was rather a nice gesture, but there was more to it than that. Vince was keen to see that the message got to Broken Hill that the person who had been sent to represent them was not a bad bloke after all and would work for them just like he had in his area. Vince always had an abiding love for Broken Hill and for the things we stood for, in remembrance of his past as a youngster. I was looking forward to Vince remaining on this planet for the next redistribution because he certainly knew his numbers. As someone said earlier, though he and his wife were unwell, Vince was looking forward even in his later years to having input into that new redistribution. I certainly hope I am re-elected; if not, I will blame Vince Durick for not sticking around because I am sure he could have positively influenced party headquarters to write a marvellous submission to the boundaries commission.
I valued Vince's help. I am sure he helped many people with whom he came in touch. As the Leader of the National Party said, Vince was of the old style: a style that reached the true believers, a style that had immense compassion and a style that said not everybody was right or wrong all the time. Vince acknowledged that there were moral aspects to consider in daily life and when making laws. He taught me an important lesson about that. Vince's attitudes to moral issues and behaviour as a legislator, a person and parent should be taken into account by us as an ideal. I thank his family for the marvellous service at St Therese's. I know they will proceed in the future knowing that their father and husband was so well respected.
Mr FACE (Charlestown - Minister for Gaming and Racing, and Minister Assisting the Premier on Hunter Development) [8.04]: I add my condolences to those of the Premier, Leader of the Opposition and many others and pay tribute to the life of Vincent Patrick Durick. As father of the House in this Parliament I probably have more vivid memories of Vince than those who have recently become members. I am sorry that I was absent from the State at the time of the church service for Vince. I knew Vince by reputation as he had become synonymous with the party in his achievements and in being able to analyse redistributions and their likely occurrence. He came on the scene with Kevin Stewart and his late friend Nick Kearns during a 1972 by-election in my electorate. Vince was given some territory in a suburb called Redhead, where I lived until a few years ago. I went to see how they were going. Vince and Kevin, who were reasonably corpulent, were wandering up and down this billygoat country knocking on all sorts of doors to make certain I got elected. They returned with many funny stories of what they had ascertained. It did not take long to find them in the afternoon because the three of them were partial to a drink on a hot day in the local bowling club, which was one of Vince's great loves.
From that outset Vince, Kevin Stewart - the court jester as he became known in the Parliament - and I became friends. It was a friendship that grew as the years went on. Vince was in touch with the community he represented and in which he resided. In the early days he said to me, "You might not like bowls, son, you're only a young bloke" - I was only 29 when I entered Parliament - "but if you take my advice, with 10 small bowling clubs in your electorate, start to learn to play, even if you only play on gala days." He had been a teacher and he said, "If you do nothing else, go to your local schools. It will get you back every time." I never forgot that good advice because that is where you find the bulk of the people you represent and learn what is going on in the electorate.
After I entered politics, Vince's early life, his background and his love for Broken Hill became apparent to me. In his early days he had done it fairly tough, but he had obtained that important ingredient of human skills, the ability to realise what the community was thinking, which is absent in many professions today. In his later years he educated himself more extensively. It was not until I read his maiden speech in the last few days that I learned more of Vince. A lot can be gleaned from
what a person says when they enter this place about their aspirations and what influenced them to find their way here. We all find different paths into this place: some by a longing to be here, some in the way Vince came here after Stan Wyatt passed away, and some in circumstances similar to my quest to be here. In Vince's maiden speech he made reference to something that must have dwelt very heavily on him as a young person. In his maiden speech on 21 October 1964 he said:
I know the sadness and sorrow that were occasioned by his death, and this was all the more regrettable as eighteen months previously he had indicated that at the conclusion of the session he intended to retire from Parliament. If I am held in such high esteem when I leave this Parliament, I shall feel that I have justified the confidence of the electors of Lakemba who thought fit to select me as their representative.
On many occasions around the bar I heard Vince speak of Percy and of his experience at that period of time in March 1921 when Percy Brookfield was murdered. He referred to Riverton station and said:
It may be more than coincidence that in the office I occupy today hangs a photograph of the late Percy Brookfield . . .
That encapsulates what others have said here of Vince's formative years in Broken Hill. It is part of the history of this place that Vince Durick was recognised as the master of the numbers in the period that I have been a member of Parliament. It was not a matter of how the boundaries were drawn in a redistribution, it was the analytical mind of Vince and the mathematical equations he used that were important in trying to determine how the voting in certain electorates would end up. Vince was able to tell the Parliament or whatever forum he was addressing of his analysis of the likely outcome of a redistribution. He would say, "If the boundary is here, we will have a certain percentage on the North Coast," or in the west, and he would advise, "I think you ought to go about it this way and you will get such and such a scenario." That was one of Vince's great strengths and why he was known as Mr Numbers.
As a consequence, Vince's opinion was much sought after in close elections, such as we had in 1976. At that time the late Ken Booth, Vince and I were in Gosford. Vince said, "Of course, when the overseas absentees come in we will end up with 68," or he would nominate some figure by which we would be in front. It was an experience to see him at work. I was campaigning in the 1995 elections at Badgerys Creek when someone asked me my opinion. I said, "If these sorts of figures come in along with the overseas absentees, we will get up by such and such." I was asked, "How do you know?" I said, "I have seen it all happen before when I was campaigning with Vince Durick in Gosford in 1976." Those skills were highlighted in this Parliament with the passing of the late Brian McGowan and the historic and significant win in Gosford which gave Labor a majority and gave it government in 1976.
I remember that in the 1973 elections we were not given a chance of winning government. Everything was going against us. The Federal Government's actions on interest rates created problems for Pat Hills and the late Syd Einfeld, who were then leader and deputy leader of the party. We had a candidate for Coogee called Michael Cleary. The result of voting was so close that the matter ended up in the Court of Disputed Returns. As a consequence Vince and I were at some court in St James for weeks on end, analysing votes. I remember that while walking around St James Vince said, "Michael will get up by X votes and beat Freeman," who had only been a member of Parliament for a short time. At the end of the day, Vince was proved right. He had an unbelievably uncanny ability to work out what would happen. I have not seen that skill in any other person who has been a member of this Parliament in my term.
One matter that has not been covered tonight is Vince's great love of lawn bowls. I related earlier how I came to learn to play lawn bowls. Vince then took me under his wing and said, "It might be an idea if you came down here occasionally and had a run with the politicians" and be part of all the types of things that we used to get up to in those days. At those times we played against the Rural Bank, the police and the State public service.
Vince said, "You will find out more from the people down here than you will in Parliament; you will get more contacts." It was pretty good advice. At that time I was unlikely to make any team that would play in Interstate matches, but I enjoyed the delightful days. Vince was a member of the Campsie Bowling Club, and we often went there on those types of days. He later became President of the New South Wales Parliamentary Bowling Club and served with distinction. Bowling was one of his great loves.
Vince, like anybody else, had his disappointments in this place. It is history that Vince was one of two persons whose names were to be drawn from the hat for the position of Speaker. Unfortunately, his lot was not to be drawn, and he did not become Speaker, a position to which he aspired. But Vince, being the man he was, having a great understanding of people, a strong faith in his church, and being part of the great team that he and Molly were, licked his wounds, and later returned to make a great contribution to this place, particularly through his office as Chairman of the Joint Committee on Drugs in the period 1976 to 1978. Of course he was Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee from 1976 to 1980. At that time it was a world apart from the committee that we know today.
His understanding of people and his great compassion obviously played a part in his coming to terms then with the drug problem which, unfortunately, we still have in this country. To some extent assisted by his Minister for Health and great and inseparable mate, Kevin Stewart, Vince brought down a report of considerable substance, at a time when others were merely tinkering at the edges of the drug abuse problem in this State.
Though it may have been unfortunate that Vince Durick did not become Speaker of this Parliament, he made significant contributions in latter years to dealing with the drug abuse problem in this State not only of hard drugs but also of soft drugs. His achievements are recorded in the annals of the history of this Parliament and should not go unnoted tonight.
I have referred to Vince as having a great deal of human understanding and an ability to realise the changing patterns of things not only in society generally but within his own electorate. I will not go deeply into those matters; I simply reaffirm what the current member for Lakemba said about Vince's understanding of newcomers and how he dealt with the vast changes that took place with the advent of multiculturalism. Those changes were vastly different from the changes I saw in the Newcastle and Hunter area, where I come from, because the people of Lakemba even at that time came from many and varied backgrounds, with religious beliefs and upbringings which were in stark contrast with those of the Christian church that we had been used to. At every occasion Vince addressed their problems, recognising them as people in need. He respected their views. That was one of his great attributes.
Vince was ably supported by Molly. As I have said, they were a great team. When I went to bowls, it was always Vince and Molly. And, if there was a piano around, she was on it and we would have a great night. Though Vince came from a different mining background, that was the way things were done when we were young. At the time my kids were very young, but Molly would find a tune that they knew and we would put on a bit of a show. That was one of the great camaraderie stories within the Parliament. Vince was a great inspiration, and Molly was unbelievably proud of him. They had a deep respect and love for each other. That permeated to their children. I understand Tom and Ruth are here tonight. Vince was always proud of their achievements and of his grandchildren.
Vince was a great personality and a great human being. I missed him very much when he left this place. He was an identity in his own right, firm in his convictions, but at the same time, under that gruff exterior, was a man with a love of people and a great depth of human understanding that was perhaps typical of people who were brought up in his era. Vince, having attended Sydney Teachers College, lived through the war and was discharged medically unfit. He then carved himself a career before he became a member of this place. His was a life that his family can be proud of. I extend my condolences to them. I am proud to have had at least a small part to play in the life of Vincent Patrick Durick.
Mr CLOUGH (Bathurst) [8.20]: I join with my colleagues in paying tribute to Vincent Patrick Durick, a former member for Lakemba. My thoughts go back to where he was born and to where he spent a great deal of his life before he came to Lakemba and represented that electorate for such a long period. Vince Durick left Broken Hill in 1946, the first year I was stationed there as a morse code operator with the Postmaster-General's Department. It was there that I experienced the trade union ethic that was so rigorously imposed in Broken Hill. That was where Vince Durick grew up and learned the principles of trade unionism, politics and old style Labor representation. The Labor Party in those days was made up of battlers and of people who were concerned for the welfare of the working man and the working woman. I am proud to be associated with those who are considered to be old-time Labor people. I do not find it a handicap to be considered to be behind the times or something like that, because I believe that is the reason our party was formed, and Vince Durick was an excellent example of that.
Tonight reference has been made to Vince having played first grade cricket and football. People who live in cities may say, "Well, that was great, Vince was playing cricket and football on ovals conducive to that type of sport." That was not the position. Western oval in Williams Street, the main oval in Broken Hill, was the headquarters of centrals football club. The one thing missing on the western oval was grass. There was no grass on the western oval. They played Australian rules football on that oval, probably because of their proximity to Adelaide, but certainly because it would have meant instant death if they played rugby league on it. Vince played first grade cricket on wickets that varied from canvas matting on the wicket closest to the grandstand at the western oval, to a rubberised surface on the wicket further away. I played on those wickets myself, and I assure honourable members that anyone playing cricket in Broken Hill in 1946 and 1947, the years I was there, learned to play off the back foot. Playing forward could mean the loss of one's teeth because the ball really flew off those wickets.
When I became a member of this Parliament I was amazed at the grasp Vince Durick had of electoral redistribution - the numbers game. Vince used to be able to come up with a solution to the problem of all redistributions. He was an expert on presenting the type of number management that goes with redistributions of electorates. He was a character. As has been said, he was a firm friend of Kevin Stewart and many others in this place. I know that certainly today Vince is listening to us talking about him because Vince Durick was the type of man that had no problem with life after death. I know that his daughter is in the gallery tonight, and I express to her, on behalf of people who have served in Broken Hill, sincere sympathy for the loss of her father.
Vince Durick was not merely a member of Parliament. From the first time he entered the trade union movement and the political sphere he looked after people. He will be sadly missed. He grew up
in an area and at a time where trade unionism was absolute. To get a job at the mines in Broken Hill in my time people had to live there for seven consecutive years. They could not walk into the town and get a job at the mines. In 1946 when I was there I was earning £4.17.6 a fortnight. With the lead bonus, the average miner in Broken Hill was earning £5 a shift, so is it any wonder that people wanted to work at the mines. However, in those days the Barrier Industrial Council under Paddy O'Neill restricted employment at the mines to long-term residents of Broken Hill. For blow-ins from Sydney, as a lot of us were, it was a seven-year residential requirement.
Vince Durick was a product of that time. He never forgot his Broken Hill origins and I believe that the experience of living in that city and being part of the industrial and political scene would have stood him in good stead. He will be sadly missed by me, not only because of his approach to life but also because when I first became a member of Parliament he was one of the members who gave me advice and I was very much appreciative of it.
Mr MOSS (Canterbury) [8.25]: Not so long ago I had an opportunity to sing Vince Durick's praises at a function held in the electorate of Lakemba to congratulate Vince on achieving life membership of the Australian Labor Party. At that function Vince was presented with his life membership certificate. It was a very pleasant evening and Vince's speech that evening was nothing short of excellent. I have no doubt that, being a former teacher, he did some homework on his address, which included a brief history of his association with the Australian Labor Party that commenced from early childhood. On recalling the speech Vince gave that night, I realised that he, like most people of his generation, grew up in very hard times. For example, Vince was born during the First World War. He grew up during the Depression, and as a young man he found himself thrust into the Second World War. It was not until Vince reached the age of about 30 that he was able to experience a period of some stability and peace in his life. I mention that in gratitude to people like Vince, because quite often my generation takes stability and peace for granted.
My association with Vince Durick during the years that I served on Canterbury council, particularly when I was mayor, was a very friendly and close one. I knew that I could always rely on Vince Durick's discretion when I discussed confidential matters with him and I could always rely on his advice, which I sought from time to time, and which was always sound and freely given. When Vince was a member of this Parliament he belonged to a group of members who were fondly known as the Canterbury Road mafia. That group was quite famous. Among its members were the late Nick Kearns, a former member for Bankstown, the late Tom Cahill, a former member for Marrickville, and Kevin Stewart, a former member for Canterbury. The criteria or the qualifications for joining the Canterbury Road mafia were that members had to have some association with Canterbury Road, but I am told that if they happened to be drinkers, smokers or punters, that held them in good stead. It was a group that crossed all borders. Another prominent member, I am told, was the former Liberal member for Ashfield, David Hunter. I believe eventually the current member for Ashfield progressed to that group, but I do not suppose those illustrious old-time members would have allowed him to progress beyond apprenticeship status.
Along with the good times that the group may have had over the years, I know that Vince Durick would have been prominent in any discussion that may have been held on matters affecting the Canterbury region. Above anything else, Vince Durick was always concerned with his local area. When reading his maiden speech today, I noted that he placed particular emphasis on local public housing and on the provision of additional recreational space in the Lakemba area. His concern for the seat of Lakemba was emphasised at the time of his life membership presentation by his proud announcement that in the 20 years he was a member of this Parliament he could not recall a time when he did not attempt to help somebody who came to him for help. It has been said earlier this evening and is no secret that Vince Durick almost became the Speaker of the House. In his own words, the contest was the closest of all in that he was defeated through a draw out of the hat. In Vince's final speech to the House on leaving the Parliament, during which he was addressing the Speaker who had defeated him in that ballot, he said:
If Percy Brookfield was the outstanding personality, he must have been a wonderful man. That event and my early family association with the political and industrial of the city of Broken Hill probably had much to do with my decision later to seek election to this Parliament.
That sums up Vince Durick as a man of tremendous grace. I know that Molly and the Durick family will be grieving the loss of Vince, but I am sure that they will be consoled by the fact that he is now being rewarded for a life spent as a good family man, teacher, serviceman and member of this Parliament who served his constituency with great distinction.
Mr DEBUS (Blue Mountains - Minister for Corrective Services, Minister for Emergency Services, and Minister Assisting the Minister for the Arts) [8.32]: I wish to speak to the motion only briefly to attest not only to the fact that Vince Durick was a splendid member of Parliament but that he was also a splendid schoolteacher. In fact, sometime during the 1950s he almost succeeded in teaching me mathematics - which in itself was an outstanding pedagogical achievement. I remember Vince Durick as an exemplary teacher who was also rather good at coaching cricket. I gather that later he was rather good at lawn bowls also. He was certainly always good at doing those things that I recall famous in the behaviour of what the previous speaker referred to as the Canterbury Road mob. I
attest, in turn, that membership of that group in the early 1980s, when I arrived here, was of the sort described by the honourable member for Canterbury.
I recall that it was said of the former member for Canterbury, Kevin Stewart, that during a Sunday lunch at which the whole family was present, and at which there were a great many children, a charity collector came to the door of the Stewart household with the announcement that a collection was being made for the Dr Barnardos homes, to which Kevin Stewart responded, "Certainly, my dear, take as many as you like." That seemed to be the brand of humour that was particularly effective in that part of the world and represented a great tradition of which Vince Durick was an important part. I count it a great privilege not only to have served with my old teacher very briefly in my early days in this House but also to have learnt from him first as a boy, not very well, and later, and perhaps rather better, as a man and a politician. I support the motion.
Mr SPEAKER [8.34]: I too was a student of Vince Durick. If one considers my qualities, one might think that Vince made a better politician than a maths teacher. Vince Durick was also a very good football coach. I have always had an endearment towards Vince because gave me a best and fairest award - something of great appeal to any student. I caught up with Vince later in life when at 17 years of age I joined the Lakemba branch of the Labor Party, of which Vince was then president. That was during the grouper period. I joined the party on a Monday evening, elections were held and I was voted in to Vince's State electorate conference. I learnt a lot about Labor Party policy and the infighting that is part and parcel of the party. There was no better teacher than Vince in terms of backing the winning team. I vividly remember Vince at each election period standing outside the Lakemba train station between 5 and 7 o'clock, five nights a week, with a microphone. As people came off the trains - in those days very few had cars - Vince would be there talking. Very few people would stand around to listen, of course, but I make the point that Vince played his part in the old-time Labor stint of going out to meet the people. When on occasions I stand here and talk to an almost empty Chamber I know how Vince used to feel at election time. It is a great pleasure to see some of Vince Durick's family in the gallery. Along with the Minister for Corrective Services, I give thanks to Vince and his family for having made such an impact on my life.
Members and officers of the House stood in their places.
Motion agreed to.
From that time on I have never worried about that result. So far as I am concerned, that was the day the matter ended.