DEATH OF THE HONOURABLE GEORGE FRANCIS FREUDENSTEIN, A FORMER MINISTER OF THE CROWN
Mr JOHN AQUILINA
(Riverstone—Leader of the House) [7.30 p.m.]: I move:
That this House extends to the family the deep sympathy of members of the Legislative Assembly in the loss sustained by the death on 22 October 2007 of the Hon. George Francis Freudenstein, a former Minister of the Crown.
The Hon. George Francis Freudenstein had a long and distinguished career as a member of this Parliament, having been first elected on 21 March 1959 and retiring on 28 August 1981. Coincidentally, he retired just prior to the election at which I was elected a member of this House. I never had the honour of knowing the Hon. George Francis Freudenstein as a member of Parliament, but his record lives long beyond his parliamentary career in this place. He was elected the member for Young and re-elected on seven occasions prior to voluntarily retiring. He had a distinguished career not only as the local member for Young, which he relished and worked very hard at, but also as a Minister of the Crown. On 11 March 1971 he was appointed the Minister for Culture Activities and Assistant Treasurer. He was appointed on three subsequent occasions the Minister for Conservation and Minister for Cultural Activities, he was the Acting Minister for Agriculture on two occasions and the Minister for Mines and Minister for Energy on three occasions. He had a very long and distinguished career serving in the highest capacity as a Minister.
As members would know, the Hon. George Freudenstein was a member of the Australian Country Party, a predecessor to The Nationals. He was educated at Warrungo Primary School and Grenfell High School. He was by career a bank officer, working with the Rural Bank in Sydney. He was also a farmer and grazier at Chippendale, near Young, owning with his father the Tyagong shorthorn stud farm. He was a committee member of the Pastoral and Agricultural Association, a Freemason and a member of the Diocesan Council of the Church of England. He enjoyed tennis and his livelihood and hobby of beef cattle breeding. The Hon. George Freudenstein was a member of the Citizen Military Forces from December 1941 to October 1942 and a member of the Australian Imperial Force from 7 February 1942 through the war years to 24 July 1946. He was in every sense a member of that proud generation of Australians who served their country with distinction in war as a member of the fighting forces, and in peace he served as a member of Parliament, his record of achievement spanning 22 years 5 months and 8 days.
Reading the valedictory speech he made in this Parliament, I noted his proud boast that at that stage he was the equal fourth-longest serving member of Parliament and the second-longest serving member of this House, exceeded only by the Hon. Patrick Darcy Hills, who subsequently became Leader of the Opposition. Although I never had the pleasure of knowing the late George Freudenstein, his record of service speaks for itself. As I said earlier, I was elected to Parliament at the same election he retired. In 1941 during the darkest hour of the Pacific war, after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour, he enlisted in the Citizen Military Forces and later served with the Australian Imperial Force. Like the late Robert Askin, one of the Premiers under whom he served, he began his working life as an officer with the Rural Bank, later the State Bank, before devoting himself to farming and a parliamentary career. Being the son of a farmer, and having worked as a farmer and grazier, he had a deep knowledge and understanding of the needs and interests of country people.
In his maiden speech he made references to fiscal issues, particularly the relatively new concept in Australia at that time of hire purchase and the amount of debt Australians were accumulating. He made the comment that it tallied £330 million, which in today's terms is an incredibly high figure. The Hon. George Francis Freudenstein has left a very proud legacy for this State, for this Parliament and for his party. On leaving Parliament several members paid tribute to him. Noteworthy among them was a tribute by a colleague with whom I had the pleasure of serving, the late Wal Murray, who in those days was the Deputy Leader of the Country Party. Wal said that George Freudenstein was a man of hard work, honesty and integrity. He also paid tribute to his parliamentary career, indicating that he had set up the then system of power generation and constructed the establishments in the State that carried the task of power generation. George Freudenstein must have also been a person with humour. I note in the concluding remarks of his valedictory speech, having briefly remarked on some achievements in his electorate, he said:
One thing I failed to achieve was the sealing of the road from Young to Goulburn, which is my shortest route to Sydney. Now that I will be losing my free travel pass, I shall be using that road more often, but if it gets any worse I am afraid that my obituary will be written sooner than I would have expected.
Although I do not know the road, I presume that it was sealed because he went on to live for a long time. In his last words to this Chamber he said:
I leave this Chamber happy in the knowledge that I have achieved a good deal for my electorate. I leave this place with no ill will towards anybody in this Parliament. I hope that good will is reciprocated.
Reciprocated it was, because upon leaving the Parliament he received positive comments by members of both the Government and the Opposition. Once again I extend on behalf of the Parliament to his family—his son, Richard, and daughter-in-law, Jane, and their children Natalie, Isabelle and Emily—and to all his friends and colleagues on both sides our sincere condolences. I record today his proud achievements as a husband, a father, a citizen and a man who made a great contribution to this Parliament and a personal sacrifice to his country as a soldier.
Mr ANDREW STONER
(Oxley—Leader of The Nationals) [7.39 p.m.]: I am honoured to speak to this condolence motion in memory of the Hon. George Freudenstein. I acknowledge in the gallery his son Richard and daughter-in-law Jane. I say I am honoured because George Freudenstein was a man I respected and admired; a man who served his country, his State and his community with distinction, yet throughout his distinguished career remained unfailingly humble. I am honoured because, simply put, George Freudenstein was a good bloke.
George Freudenstein was born on 26 December 1921 at Young, the centre of the electorate with the same name that he would later represent for 22 years. His family were noted breeders of shorthorn cattle in the district, a vocation George continued with distinction later in his life. He attended local schools—Warrungo Primary School and Grenfell High School—and upon leaving he worked with the Rural Bank. When war broke out George volunteered, serving with the Citizens Military Forces from 29 December 1941 to 6 October 1942 and then with the Australian Imperial Force, with which he saw active service in Papua New Guinea, from 7 October 1942 to 24 July 1946. As was his usual style, he made little mention of his active service.
George returned to the family property, Chippendale, which Ian Armstrong, the former member for Lachlan, tells me is one of the best properties in the area near Grenfell. Then he continued to farm and breed beef cattle and to participate in community affairs via, for example, the Pastoral and Agricultural Association and the Anglican Church. His concern for his community translated into his membership of the then Country Party and he became Secretary of the Young Electorate Council in 1951. Following a tough grassroots campaign, George was elected as member for Young on 21 March 1959, a seat he was to hold for more than 22 years until it was abolished in 1981.
Up until George won the seat, it had been held continuously by the Labor Party for 18 years since 1941. However, due to the strong support for George as the local member of Parliament and his continuing efforts for the Country and National parties following his retirement, Labor has never held the seat since. I travelled to Grenfell with the member for Burrinjuck for George's funeral a couple of weeks ago. The former Federal member for Hume and Minister for Transport, John Sharp, told me how George had identified him as a young local man with potential, and how George had encouraged him in his political career. Several other National Party and formerly Country Party members, past and present, tell a similar story of George's guiding hand on their careers.
Following his retirement from Parliament, George continued to serve the Country and National parties by his membership of the Central Council of the Nationals. As we see with many former members, there is a fine line between exerting too much influence and telling the current member how he or she should do things and, at the other end of the spectrum, walking away completely from politics and withdrawing support for the party that the member represented. George achieved a balance. George's parliamentary career was distinguished. He was member for Young for more than 22 years and Minister of the Crown from 1969 to 1976, with the portfolios of Cultural Activities, Agriculture, Conservation, Mines, Energy and Assistant Treasurer. Notably, George was the responsible Minister when the Sydney Opera House opened in 1973.
During the whole period of his parliamentary career he was particularly devoted to his wife, Joan. I am told that every night of sittings, faithfully at 6 p.m. he would telephone her and over the telephone share a glass of Scotch with her. There is a particular staff member still employed by the Parliament who remembers that well. George retired in 1981 and pursued his great loves: his family, the family property, judging cattle, tennis and cooking. Despite suffering a heart attack shortly after retirement he had a full and active life, playing tennis and hosting dinner or lunch functions up until recently.
I ran into George in Orange late last year at the funeral of his former leader and good mate Sir Charles Cutler. Following the funeral his friends had gathered at one of Sir Charles's local watering holes to blow the froth off a couple. George was there in the background and unobtrusively made his way over through the throng to greet me. I remember thinking it should have been me who went out of his way to greet George, but I suppose with my height versus George's lack thereof, it was he who spotted me first in the middle of the crowd. But it was just typical of this humble, quiet man who loved his country, loved his family, loved the land and served his community with distinction. Vale George Freudenstein, a true gentleman, a good bloke and a quiet but notable achiever for this State.
Mr PAUL GIBSON
(Blacktown) [7.46 p.m.]: I am honoured also to speak on this condolence motion for George Francis Freudenstein. I extend my sympathy to his son ,Richard, and his daughter-in-law, Jane. I am probably one of the few people on this side of the Chamber who knew George.
Mr Andrew Stoner:
You're showing your age, Gibbo.
Mr PAUL GIBSON:
I am showing my age, and I might be able to tell Richard one or two things tonight that he may not have known in the past about George. George was our local member. I can still see George: probably one of the best-dressed men I have ever known and with black hair. He had a distinction about him that not too many people have. George would walk into a school or into a hall full of people and you could feel his presence there. I used to talk to George a lot about politics. I would say, "What is the Country Party? What does it mean?" He used to say, "You can only be what you think you should be". The member for Riverstone said that one of George's greatest failures was the road between Young and Goulburn. That road currently is being upgraded. But that was not his only failure. When I became a member of Parliament in 1988 George sent me a note that said, "One of my greatest failures was not talking you into becoming a member of the Country Party".
Order! On that note, the House will come to order.
Mr PAUL GIBSON:
George had a very distinctive political career. He was the member for Young for 22 years. In those days I knew everyone at Young, and I still know most of the people there today. I know people at Young who voted Labor all their lives but voted for George Freudenstein. When George left they became Labor voters again. That says a tremendous amount about the quality of the local member. George would put the people of the electorate of Young before the Country Party and before party politics, although he was a staunch member of the Country Party. It sounds strange but I remember, when George married Jane back in 1960 in Young, it was like Prince Charles and Diana being married. That is the sort of impression it had on us kids at the time.
Mr Thomas George:
You wouldn't have been much of a kid then.
Mr PAUL GIBSON:
I was a teenage kid then. Richard, I knew your grandfather well and had many discussions with Francis all those years ago. I used to speak to him about politics too. I spent a little time with Elder Smith Goldsbrough Mort out at the property. I would often go out to the property and they would give me a bit of business, I would sell a few cows for them or whatever. We had a great relationship. The member for Riverstone referred to his inaugural speech in which he spoke about things that we are still talking about in this Chamber today: decentralisation, inflation, meat supply in the electorate of Young, and problems with hire purchase. He warned that hire purchase may become a mountain that we may regret in years to come, and of course that is the case today.
I can remember George saying to me one day in the early 1960s, "I went and had a look at you. You play a little bit of football—you don't go too badly." He said, "I've talked to my cousin in Sydney, Donny Freudenstein"—your uncle Don—"and Don wants you to go down and have a yarn with Manly." So I went and had a yarn with Manly. I went to South Sydney first, then I went to Western Suburbs, but eventually I got to Manly. George arranged for Don to take me to Manly, and I ended up signing up with Manly. I lived with the Freudenstein family for a year, with Donny and Colleen, they were great people. At that time Donny was the police sergeant in charge of Manly and his sons, young Don and Luke, have followed him into the police force. They are great memories to have.
I can remember things would get out of hand at times in Young, and you can bet your life George was always there. He was always there to put his mark on things. Some kids that I went to school with—not good friends of mine, but I went to school with them—got into trouble. I remember there was a fairly disadvantaged family in town that these kids used to pick on, for no reason at all—kids can be cruel at times—but all of a sudden it stopped, and I said to one of these kids one day after school when we were talking away, "Tell me, what made you stop? Did the brothers threaten to give you a hiding or did the police have a go at you?" He said, "No, Mr F came down to see us", meaning Mr Freudenstein, and I said, "What did Mr Freudenstein say?" He said, "Well, to put it quite bluntly, he told us he'd kick us in the arse if we ever did it again"—excuse my French, but they are the words that were said. These kids were put on the right track.
I am certain I could stand here all night and tell a million stories about the things that George did and did not do at Young. The greatest testimony is that the people who voted Labor all their life voted for George Freudenstein for 22 years. When George left the scene they voted Labor again. I suppose we all meet a lot of people on our tour of life. It is said that if you can count your friends on one hand you have been a fairly fortunate person in your lifetime, and that is true, but I also say that if a person has left such good impressions on you—and I can still see George today and I can hear him speak, although I have not spoken to him for probably 25 or 30 years—that person must have been really outstanding. That is the best tribute I can pay to your dad George, and God bless him.
Mr BARRY O'FARRELL
(Ku-ring-gai—Leader of the Opposition) [7.53 p.m.]: I acknowledge, as my colleagues on both sides have, Richard and Jane Freudenstein's presence in the gallery along with my colleague the Hon. Jennifer Gardiner, who represents the old Country Party in the upper House.
George Freudenstein came into this place as the member for Young in 1959, the year that I confess I was born, upon the retirement of Fred Cahill. It cannot have been easy coming into a Parliament in which one of Fred's relatives was Premier, having taken over his seat. What is interesting about the seat of Young, the seat that existed in this place for 100 years from 1880 until 1981, is that up until that stage, like the Federal seat of Eden-Monaro, it was a seat that had always been won by the party that was in government: that is until George Freudenstein arrived. His arrival saw the start of the process that in 1965 resulted in the election of the Askin-Cutler Government and resulted in, particularly in country areas, some of the reforms that were necessary after 25 years of Labor Government.
George had some illustrious successes in the seat that not only he represented but also the member for Blacktown grew up in. Australia and the world's first Labor Prime Minister, John Christian Watson, was the member for Young up until Federation when he went off and became a Federal member for the area and became the world's first Labor leader of a National Government in 1904. Of course, William Holman, who was Premier of the State between 1913 and 1920, was also the member for Grenfell, which along with Forbes, Cowra and Young formed what was the seat that George represented in this place.
I have a connection that I am happy to admit to in Bruce Cowan, my father-in-law, who served in this place for 15 years with George Freudenstein. He came into this place after George and he left this place before him by a year to go off to Federal politics. In 1980 both those seats—Oxley and Young—were abolished in a redistribution, which is ultimately what saw the departure of George Freudenstein from this place after 22½ years. They served in the Ministry together in 1975-76. George Freudenstein was in the Ministry, first as an assistant Minister in 1969, and he served continuously until 1976. My father-in-law entered the Ministry as the Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources in 1975-76.
Bruce tells me that George could be described as quiet, trusted, tolerant—which I find interesting in this day and age, an expression not used by my father-in-law about anyone—and, frankly, a good fellow, which in the scale of things that Bruce Cowan says about people is right at the top. He ranks John Howard as a good fellow as well, so you know exactly where he is coming from. Bruce particularly made the point, a point made by the Leader of The Nationals, that George was strongly supported throughout his entire career by his wife, Joan, who Bruce was quick to point out also brought an added bonus in that her brother-in-law was editor of the Land
, a newspaper that is important to Liberal and National members representing rural New South Wales today, as I am sure it was then. Bruce said to me that he was not sure about George Freudenstein's military service, but he said if Charlie Cutler promoted him he must have been an ex-serviceman and, sure enough, when I did the research, I found that he did serve this country, as so many people did.
He was, as has been said, a farmer and grazier. What is important about that? Well, at one stage the National Party, particularly National Party Ministers, were accused of being in league with dairy farmers in the distribution of quotas across New South Wales. Neville Wran beat up quite a considerable scandal prior to the 1976 election campaign. George Freudenstein was one of only two National Party Ministers who were not dairy farmers. I confess that my father-in-law was one of those dairy farmers who suffered the slings and arrows of being accused unfairly of allocating milk quotas to benefit themselves rather than the State.
George Freudenstein, who gave great service to this place, forms part of the history of this House. He forms an indelible part of what has gone to make up this place, what has protected this State and advanced this State for 151 years in which we have had responsible government, when people in the electorates of Young and elsewhere have been able to choose members who could form governments and who were responsible for running this State. He represents the best example of people who come into this place, someone determined to do his utmost to advance the interests of the members of his community to ensure that they had a better life, to ensure that particularly those living in country communities had access to the same opportunities and the same State services provided to those of us fortunate enough to live in city areas. Like his generation, like the generation that served and fought in World War II, he understood what was at stake in this process and he never took it lightly. He served with distinction. I hope that Richard and Jane and their daughters take great pride in his service to this State.
Ms KATRINA HODGKINSON
(Burrinjuck) [8.00 p.m.]: It is a privilege to speak to this condolence motion for the Hon. George Francis Freudenstein. At the outset I offer my condolences, particularly to Richard and Jane and their family. George Freudenstein was a most honourable man and I am privileged to have known him personally. His family was endowed with the principles of honest and genuine country ways. Richard, you could not have helped but be a great bloke because you certainly had the best of genes. I last saw George's charming wife, Joan, at a cocktail party at The Nationals conference at Dubbo. She and George looked very happy. Joan was a beautiful woman and together they were a lovely couple. Richard, you chose your parents very well.
I saw George Freudenstein on several occasions because I now represent the township of Young. I have big shoes to fill. George Freudenstein was the most honourable member for Young we could have wished for. He was the member for Young for 22 years and had a distinguished career in this place. However, he is best known for his work on the ground in Grenfell, Young and the surrounding towns and villages. He leaves a huge gap. The Leader of the Nationals mentioned that we attended the funeral at Holy Trinity Anglican Church on 26 October. Richard spoke well at the funeral and shared some of the more personal details of what George was like at home—his love of cooking and greenery and his ability with flowers. We learned about the personal side of a member that we do not necessarily see in this place.
We in this place knew George Freudenstein as a man of huge intelligence. Hansard
records his extraordinary command of vocabulary and English. That is not now evident in this place as we tend toward common usage and slang. George was a master of grammar and English. It would behove us all to revert to his principles because it might restore some dignity to this place. Like so many of his generation, George had a career in the military and we commend him for serving his nation in that way.
George was a true gentleman. As such, on several occasions after Young was incorporated into the electorate of Burrinjuck he assisted me with advice and other help, but in the gentlest of ways. He was always gentle and sincere. He would approach me and provide a little bit of advice that would inevitably prove to be extremely important, but he would never force his advice on anyone. I miss that advice and him very much.
George also had a very distinguished career in The Nationals and the Country Party, as it was known. He was the secretary of the Young branch of the party from 1951 to 1958, secretary of the Young electorate council from 1951 to 1958 and chairman of the Hume electorate council in 1982. He was an integral part of the Young branch of the Country Party during those years. He also had a distinguished career outside this place and had broad experience in country matters. The member for Riverstone, the member for Blacktown and the Leader of The Nationals have covered his parliamentary record, so I will not reiterate those details.
George Freudenstein was a fantastic role model. We should have more gentlemen and gentlewomen of his calibre in this place. His reputation as one of the finest members of this place will live on and this State is the poorer for his passing. I extend my condolences to all his relatives throughout Australia. There are many Freudensteins, given the number who attended his funeral. Vale, George Freudenstein.
Mr DONALD PAGE
(Ballina) [8.03 p.m.]: I had the pleasure of meeting the Hon. George Francis Freudenstein on several occasions after he left politics. I join with other members in offering my condolences to his family, especially his son, Richard, and wife, Jane, who are in the gallery tonight. They have every reason to be proud of George Freudenstein.
George Freudenstein came into Parliament the hard way—by winning a seat held for 18 years by Fred Cahill, a popular local Labor member. Through hard work and dedication to the people of his electorate he was able to consolidate his seat as a new Country Party member and hold it for 22½ years until a redistribution saw the electorate of Young abolished in 1981. George's inaugural speech demonstrates that he was very much a parliamentarian who cared passionately about his electorate. The bulk of the speech was about his electorate. He mentioned the poor state of Forbes High School, Forbes Primary School and Cowra Primary School, the unemployed in the area and the closure of the Wills factory at Forbes. He also talked about the need to develop the Lachlan Valley and the threat to the local meatworks if local government-run meatworks were allowed to operate. He talked about the need to give the local Aboriginal community a fair go by letting them live with their families at the local mission station rather than kicking them out and making them live in humpies on the banks of the river. In many ways George Freudenstein was ahead of his time on Aboriginal issues. He was genuinely for the people of his electorate regardless of their colour, background or education.
George Freudenstein went on to have a very distinguished parliamentary career over 22½ years in both opposition and government. He became an assistant Minister in February 1969, 10 years after entering Parliament. Throughout the next seven years and three months he held several portfolios, including Minister for Cultural Activities and Assistant Treasurer from 11 March 1971 to 19 June 1972, Acting Minister for Agriculture from 31 May 1972 to 2 August 1972 and 11 June 1975 to 28 July 1975, Minister for Conservation and Minister for Cultural Activities from 19 June 1972 to 3 January 1975, and Minister for Mines and Minister for Energy from January 1975 to 14 May 1976, when the then Government was defeated and the Wran Government was elected. George retired as the member for Young on 28 August 1981 after 22½ years of distinguished parliamentary service. He was an excellent local member in the traditional Country Party fashion.
Although I did not know George as well as some other people did, I had a number of conversations with him towards the end of his life. We shared an interest in beef cattle and tennis and, of course, in the history of the Country Party. George Freudenstein was a man of integrity who cared about country people and who was a wonderful servant of the Country Party and all that it stood for and The Nationals still stand for today.
As members have said, George also served his country in the Citizens Military Forces and the Australian Imperial Force in the Second World War. He was a family man, a soldier, a dedicated local member and a Minister of the Crown who served this country and this State with distinction. I again extend my condolences to his family, especially his son, Richard, and Richard's wife, Jane, who are here tonight. As I said, George Freudenstein was a person of integrity and character. He was an adornment to this Parliament. We in The Nationals—and I speak as the grandson of the founder of the Country Party—are very proud to have had such a distinguished member, a great parliamentarian and a great local member in our ranks.
Mr ANDREW FRASER
(Coffs Harbour—Deputy Leader of The Nationals) [8.08 p.m.]: I join with my colleagues in paying tribute to the late George Freudenstein, who died on 22 October aged 86 years. George Freudenstein was born in Young, New South Wales, on the day after Christmas in 1921. He was the son of farmer and grazier Francis Freudenstein and his wife, Gwen Shannon. His only son, Richard, and his wife, Jane, are here with us this evening.
George was educated at Warrungo Primary School from 1927 to 1933 and at Grenfell High School from 1934 to 1939. On leaving school he gained employment with the Rural Bank in Sydney. He then followed his father's pastoral interests and operated the grazing property "Chippendale" near Young. He and his father subsequently owned Tyagong Shorthorn Stud farm. He became a committee member of the Pastoral and Agricultural Association, which whetted his appetite for politics, and he became involved with the Young branch of the Australian Country Party. This led him to become secretary of the Young branch of the Country Party and, in addition, the secretary to the Young Electorate Council from 1951 to 1958. He was elected to the New South Wales Legislative Assembly on 21 May 1959 as the member for Young, a leadership role he was to continue until retiring in 1981.
Not long after George's election to Parliament he married Joan Elizabeth Parker, a journalist and teacher. They had one son. During his parliamentary career he served in a wide range of roles, ranging from Assistant Minister to the Minister for Cultural Activities, Assistant Treasurer, Minister for Conservation, Minister for Cultural Activities, Minister for Mines and Energy, Opposition spokesman for mines and energy, Shadow Minister for Mines and Energy and Shadow Minister for Public Works and Ports. In addition to his political occupation he found time to enlist in the Citizen Military Force from 29 December 1941 to 6 October 1942 and then in the Australian Imperial Force from 7 October 1942 until 24 July 1946. George's political career continued to develop when he was elected as chairman of the Hume Electorate Council of the Country Party in 1982, after leaving this place—one would think he had had enough. George was an old-style politician. He was quietly spoken and had a genuine feeling for the wellbeing of his constituents, as many of his speeches in Hansard
have shown. He was approachable and shared a satisfaction in achieving for his constituents.
That is what I prepared today. I met George on a number of occasions, mainly at lunches for former members. I remember one day we sat at a table with a large number of politicians—Tim Fischer and Sir John Fuller among them—I never really knew, and I have been in this place for 17 years. Recently I celebrated my seventeenth anniversary. I sat and listened to the stories those fellows told about the camaraderie in this place. The difficulties in their electorates back in the days when George Freudenstein was in this place were incredible. I do not know whether this is a fact, but I am sure that at one lunch I was told that George had a reputation for having a tin cup in his car and when he saw road gangs on the side of the road he would pull up and have a cup of tea with them. I am sure George claimed that one time he had pulled up, as he often did, to talk to the road gangs out in distant parts and he did have a cup of tea with them. However, it became legend that George basically sat down with his tin cup and boiled the billy with them. Everyone in politics knew him for his approachable nature.
It was my pleasure to know George, albeit briefly and not deeply. I enjoyed his camaraderie at the lunches for former members. I often sat with him, took advice from him and listened to his tales about the days of the Country Party and where we should still be today, especially with the name of the Country Party. I offer my condolences to Richard, who I think has a proud memory in his father. May his children look back in the future on George's service to this State, to the area of Young and to the people of Australia with great pride because George was a man of great humanity.
Mr THOMAS GEORGE
(Lismore) [8.13 p.m.]: The Hon. George Freudenstein was the State Country Party member for Young from 1959 to 1981. Sadly, I have probably learned more about George Freudenstein since his passing than I knew about him previously. Like my colleagues, I had the pleasure of meeting the Hon. George Freudenstein on a number of occasions on a casual basis at functions for former members and other activities in Parliament House and at National Party conferences. I soon realised that he was a sincere, approachable man who was always willing to help everyone. As I said, sometimes one finds out more about a person when they have passed away. In my case it is sad because in the past week when I notified former colleagues of the passing of the Hon. George Freudenstein, nearly all of them contacted me to thank me for notifying them because he was held in high regard by all of them.
When I went back through history I found that Mr Freudenstein had worked for the Rural Bank, including a stint at Casino. My first position was at the Rural Bank of New South Wales in Casino. I had heard of this Mr Freudenstein but it was not until last week that I put it together that he was the same Mr Freudenstein who had worked at that branch. George was also a farmer and grazier. Members know my history as a stock and station agent and a cattle producer. The only thing I have difficulty with is breeding shorthorns. I would love to have chatted to George about breeding shorthorns because shorthorns are not very successful on the coast. It would have been an interesting discussion.
I also discovered that Mr Freudenstein was a member of the Pastoral and Agricultural Association. Shows are an important part of my life, and they are an important part of regional and country New South Wales. He was involved with his church, the Church of England. We have heard about his recreational interests, including tennis, and I have commented on beef cattle breeding. Mr Freudenstein was a member of the Freemasons and, as I said, a member of the Pastoral and Agricultural Association. He also served in the military. Previous speakers have quoted from George's maiden speech—we call them inaugural speeches today. In his maiden speech he said:
I am also the first member of an Opposition ever to come from the electorate of Young
It was nice for him to be recognised in that way. Earlier the member for Blacktown said that George Freudenstein had been well respected in Young. It is great to see the member for Burrinjuck here today as her electorate now encompasses Young. In his maiden speech George also said:
There can be only one gauge of the prosperity of a community; that is, full employment or close to it.
Things have not changed. In his speech he welcomed the Wyndham report and hoped that honourable members would be given adequate opportunity to discuss the far-reaching changes that were needed in our school system. The Wyndham scheme was introduced in 1965, when I was in year 10. In his valedictory speech he said:
I was the second-longest serving member of a cabinet in this Parliament. It might be said, as my one claim to fame, that I have served in more portfolios than any other member. If one were unkind, one could say that was because I was inclined to make a mess of any portfolio I held. Others who are kinder might say that I was more adaptable.
I think it was the Leader of the House who commented about the road between Goulburn and Young. George had said that his obituary would probably be written before that road was finished. Thank goodness the road was bitumened before the obituary was written. Two or three members retired at the same time as George Freudenstein and made their valedictory speeches. At the time the then Deputy Leader of the Country Party, Wal Murray, said:
The Country Party is witnessing the passing of an era that has virtually covered the span of the life of the Parliament.
That was the experience the party and Parliament lost in the retirement of three members. He went on to say:
Their integrity is such that they leave this House with unblemished records.
That is a tremendous way to leave Parliament. It is certainly something we all aspire to and something we should live up to. I have received some notes, and one in particular I would like to place on the record. It is from the Hon. James Caird Bruxner—"Tim" as we all know him—who said in a letter to me:
The years go by and sadly Sir John Fuller and I are the only remaining Country Party Ministers from the old Cabinet.
He would like these comments placed on record:
THE HONOURABLE GEORGE FREUDENSTEIN
George and I were colleagues during all of my time in Parliament and we shared many experiences.
George was a quiet person who did not seek publicity but carried out his duties as a Minister and Member most efficiently.
The electorate of Young was well served for all of his twenty years and more and his work as Minister for Conservation, Mines and Energy, Cultural Activities and Assistant Treasurer was of the highest standard.
George also conducted a fine farming and grazing property "Chippendale" and I can well remember his excellent Shorthorn Stud cattle
His retirement from Parliament came all too soon following the abolition of yet another country electorate.
Things have not changed. He went on:
I am fortunate to have known him and to have worked beside him.
Earlier I was speaking to the Hon. Duncan Gay, and the Leader of The Nationals may have commented about this earlier. As everyone knows Duncan is the Leader of The Nationals in the other place. He said:
My first meeting with George was on the side of the road when I was droving a mob of sheep near Crookwell in the late sixties. Freudy was not a local member but when nearly 20 years later I was making my decision on whether or not to enter Parliament, I thought of George.
My decision to be a member was in many ways because of this kind decent man who took the time to talk, for a long time, to a young bloke on the side of the road. He was driving home after a week in Parliament but still had time for someone who was not a voter in his electorate. He was a gentle gentleman that by his actions indicated a Conservative was not necessarily a redneck. He was a man many of us have tried to be like, with varying success.
Richard, Jane, Natalie, Isabel and Emilie, you can be proud of your father. I know that you are, having spent time with you tonight. He was a loving grandfather, an outstanding member of Parliament and a great community representative, who will be sadly missed by us all. May God bless him. Vale George Freudenstein.
I join with the House in extending to the family the deep sympathy of members of the Legislative Assembly.
Question—That the motion be agreed to—put and resolved in the affirmative.
Motion agreed to.
Members and officers of the House stood in their places.