Death Of Mr Kit Denton

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SpeakersDebus Mr Bob
BusinessPrivate Members Statements, Condolence


Mr DEBUS (Blue Mountains - Minister for Corrective Services, Minister for Emergency Services, and Minister Assisting the Minister for the Arts) [5.16 p.m.]: I wish to pay homage to Kit Denton, the prominent writer and well-known resident of the Blue Mountains who passed away last week. The Oxford Companion to Australian Literature gives a brief account of Kit Denton's life as follows:
      . . . born in England, grew up in the East End of London. After serving with the British Army and as a broadcaster with the British Forces Network in Germany, he migrated to Australia, where he tried gold-mining at Kalgoorlie and numerous other occupations. He was an announcer with the ABC 1951-65, and has worked extensively as a freelance writer and producer/director of commercial films and documentaries for television and radio.

Kit Denton published a collection of short stories called Burning Spear in 1990, and four novels, including The Breaker in 1973, which was the basis for that excellent film by Bruce Beresford, Breaker Morant. The Oxford Companion to Australian Literature states that Denton's other publications include a collection of sketches and reminiscences, A Walk Around My Cluttered Mind, an illustrated account of the Gallipoli campaign, Gallipoli Illustrated, and a book concerning the First World War, called Gallipoli: One Long Grave. His writings included numerous television and radio scripts and contributions to a great many newspapers and magazines throughout the country. He was active in the Australian Writers Guild from its early days.

For 30 years Kit Denton was prominent in the prompters club, a group of scriptwriters, copywriters and others who met, I gather, for companionship, mutual professional encouragement and lots of dinners. Kit was Mr Prompter in that organisation because he was so extremely witty and he knew so much about everything. He was an extraordinarily funny man. During my last meeting with him in a coffee shop in Wentworth Falls he quite daringly gave an account - not just to me but, incidentally, to the rest of the people in the coffee shop - in rather slapstick style about his then poor health. I would not dare to reproduce what he dared to say at the time, but I must say that it is no accident that Andrew Denton, his son, is so funny. Andrew Denton learned all about being funny at his father's knee. In the 1970s an anonymous television critic, known as Janus, wrote for the Australian. He was feared, but he was also regarded as the best and most constructive television critic of the day. It was a long time before people found out that Janus was Kit Denton.

Recently, I spoke to Mr David Mulford, the principal of the Blue Mountains Grammar School. He confirmed that Kit and his wife, Le, helped the school in the early 1970s. In 1972 there was a threat to close the school. Kit and Le Denton are largely
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credited with securing the survival of the school. You may remember that, Mr Acting-Speaker, as you represented the area at that time. The Dentons were made life members of the auxiliary of the school. Last December the school, appropriately, established the Kit Denton prize for English. The Blue Mountains prides itself on its association with the arts. It has lost a man of diverse and voracious interests, a sceptic with vigorous intelligence, a man whom I knew to be funny and brave. Kit Denton is a loss to Australian arts and letters, not only to the arts and letters of the Blue Mountains. I offer my condolences to the family of Kit Denton, and I am sure that all honourable members will join me in this regard.