Condolence Motion: Hon Arthur Mornington Whyte

I rise to second the motion and endorse the comments made by the Leader of the Government and add a few personal comments and comments on behalf of some of my colleagues. I had the privilege of personally knowing the Hon. Arthur Mornington Whyte and, in December last year, I drove to Kimba to attend Arthur's funeral. It was a beautiful service commemorating his long and rich life.

Arthur came from humble beginnings. He was born into a family with a deep and rich farming history. He was the youngest of four children. From a young age the notion of hard work was instilled in Arthur, a characteristic which he exemplified throughout his life. While at school, Arthur worked on the farm leaving little time for his homework. Despite this, Arthur's hard work and discipline saw him finish 12th in the state with his qualifying exam results.

True to his roots, Arthur took a job at Buckleboo Station after finishing school. Arthur became well known as an excellent stockman and was later employed as a jackaroo on Moonarie, which at that time carried some 30,000 sheep and 700 head of cattle. However, in 1940, in the midst of the Second World War, Arthur made the brave decision to join the Army.

As part of the 2nd/48th Battalion, Arthur served throughout the Middle East, serving in Palestine, Libya and Lebanon, and as one of the famous Rats of Tobruk. Ironically, it was not until after these battles that Arthur suffered his injury. In 1943, he was involved in an accident in military training which saw him lose his arm, and he was subsequently discharged from the Army just before Christmas that same year. Perhaps Arthur was a little more accident prone than he would have cared to admit, because some years later he fell off his horse, breaking his arm in three places, and had to endure a painful four-mile walk back home while negotiating three fences with only one (broken) arm.

Family was truly important to Arthur, and upon returning to Australia he married his wife Mary in 1945. Two years later, they bought some land at Kimba. Kimba was to become the family home, and here, on the family station of Yeltana, Arthur and Mary had four children: Caroline, Annette, Martin and Nola. I am pleased to see that Caroline and Annette are here today; the others have not joined them, but I am sure they are here with us in spirit.

Arthur's devotion to his community was the foundation of his political career. He was a monumental figure in and around Kimba, serving on the Kimba District Council, and was president of the Kimba branch of the RSL, a member of the Kimba Show Society, and a member of the Kelly Football Club. He also held positions within the Kimba Racing Club and the school committee, just to name a few. I think that was displayed in Kimba on the day of his funeral, where every possible seat was taken, and there were two rows of people standing around the Kimba hall listening to the service.

After being elected to the Legislative Council in 1966 as a member of the Liberal Country League, Arthur was elected President of this chamber in 1978. It was as President that Arthur Whyte made his long-lasting imprint on South Australian state politics. He played a key role in the passing of legislation to construct the Olympic Dam uranium mine, and Arthur was a strong advocate for the mine, which continues to be a significant contributor to South Australia's economy and its jobs market today.

Most notable was Arthur's relationship, as the minister and Leader of the Government indicated, with the Aboriginal people, and what he was able to achieve for them with the Maralinga lands bill was nothing short of remarkable. Having considered the government's bill and the opposition's alternative bill, Arthur was adamant that neither afforded the Maralinga people the appropriate level of protection. He sought to consult with the Maralinga people, not as a politician, but as a fellow bushie and as a friend who had grown up and worked with the Aboriginal people throughout his farming life. Through his determination, Arthur was able to ensure the Maralinga land and the sacred sites were safeguarded. The mutual respect between Arthur and the Maralinga people was to be admired.

Arthur retired in 1985 and two years later received a truly deserved Order of Australia. Of course, as we know, Arthur was also a wonderful host at home in Kimba. I visited there a number of times. I was warned by Caroline not to go back to his house for 'just one more' glass of port, and I thought, 'This guy's perhaps in his mid 80s by now so it won't last very long,' but, sure enough, she was right and we were still there at 3 o'clock in the morning, and Arthur was going strong. So he was certainly a man who was strong in body, strong in mind and strong in heart as well.

Today, I would also like to pay tribute to Arthur, in a strange way, by way of Arthur's children, especially Martin, who was the first person who suggested that I should run for the Legislative Council, and took a role in—

Members interjecting:

The Hon. D.W. RIDGWAY: I know members opposite and some others might not like the role they played! I think Martin then spoke to his sister Caroline, who then committed to help support me during my preselection process. As I sat in the hall in Kimba, I though, 'Actually, I have a stronger and longer connection with the Whyte family.' If it were not for Arthur, he would not have had those children, and those children would not have been able to offer that support on my journey to becoming a member of the Legislative Council.

As I reflected on the life of Arthur, I was full of admiration for a man who stood up for what he believed in. A man full of humility, no matter where his travels took him or what parliamentary office he held, Arthur always remained humble. He was a true representative of his people, and it is a great loss the community of Kimba, as well as those from South Australia.

Mr President, I would like to close by reading a poem that was handed out as a memento of Arthur's life on the day of his funeral. I do hope I can do it justice. It is entitled The Measure of a Man:

Not 'How did he die?' but 'How did he live?'

Not 'What did he gain?' but 'What did he give?'

These are the things that measure the worth

Of a man as a man, regardless of birth.

Not 'What was his station?' but 'Had he a heart?'

And 'How did he play his God-given part?'

Was he ever ready with a word of good cheer

To bring back a s mile, to banish a tear?

Not 'What was his church?' Not 'What was his creed?'

But 'Had he befriended those really in need?'

Not 'What did the sketch in the newspaper say?'

But 'How many were sorry when he passed away?'

These are the things that measure the worth

Of a man as a man, regardless of birth.

Arthur Mornington Whyte, rest in peace.

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