Death Of Sir William Keys

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SpeakersWebb Mr Peter
BusinessPrivate Members Statements, Condolence

Page: 5310

    Mr WEBB (Monaro) [4.59 p.m.]: Tonight I am somewhat saddened. I express sympathy to the Keys family on the death yesterday of Sir William Keys. Sir William's life might have been different if he had been able to follow his chosen career. However, in 1940, as a young Australian, he found himself in the Citizen Military Forces. He served in the 2nd-3rd Battalion of the Australian Imperial Force and went on to serve in New Guinea. Later he was involved in the battle of Tarakan in Borneo and he was critically injured in that battle. After World War II he joined the Korean conflict with the 3rd Battalion of the Royal Australian Regiment. Unfortunately, he was again wounded. He was subsequently awarded the Military Cross.

    After the Korean War he served as President of the national RSL in Australia for 10 years until 1986. Before that he served from 1961 as national Secretary of the RSL for a period of 17 years. Sir William was elected to the RSL New South Wales Council in 1947 before the Korean conflict. Sir William then took on a further battle, a personal battle with cancer. As on previous occasions he was again victorious after turning to traditional Chinese medicines. At that time he served as the international President of the Federation of Korean War Veterans Associations and performed other duties, including being instrumental in the founding of the Korea and South-East Asia Forces Association.

    Sir William was a farmer at heart. On his own admission he was a farmer by trade. While raising his three young daughters he ran the family farm at Bombala. His early training for his chosen career certainly stood him in good stead for the rest of his life. Sir William and Lady Keys enjoyed living on their block off the Captains Flat Road out of Queanbeyan, from where they followed the progress of their children. Their daughter Amanda is still fighting for peace in Burma today. Sir William was a kind and gentle man. He fought his latest battle and hung on until after the dedication, just before last Easter, of the national Korean war memorial in Canberra on Anzac Parade, which he attended in a wheelchair. Unfortunately, he was not well enough to attend any of the Anzac Day services which were held a few days later.

    Sir William is survived by his charming wife, Dulcie, and their three children, Elizabeth, Amanda and Tammy. He fought for peace in wartime and he continued to fight during times of peace. He faithfully represented his service colleagues and worked tirelessly for the recognition of world peace, particularly through the construction of the Korean war memorial. He also fought a personal battle against lung cancer, which was believed to have originated from the asbestos lining in the tanks in which he served during the war. Regrettably, yesterday he lost that battle and he now rests in peace. Thank you, Sir William. It was a real pleasure and an honour to know you. I express sincere condolences to Sir William's family. He was 77 years old, having lived from 1923 to 2000. He made a great commitment to Australia and was a great Australian. May he rest in peace.