Senate debates

Thursday, 15 March 2012


Scott, the Hon. Douglas Barr

3:38 pm

Photo of John HoggJohn Hogg (President) Share this | | Hansard source

It is with deep regret that I inform the Senate of the death on 12 March 2012 of the Hon. Douglas Barr Scott, a senator for the state of New South Wales in 1970 and from 1974 to 1985, and during this time a chairman of committees and acting President of the Senate.

Photo of Jacinta CollinsJacinta Collins (Victoria, Australian Labor Party, Parliamentary Secretary for School Education and Workplace Relations) Share this | | Hansard source

By leave—I move:

That the Senate records its deep regret at the death, on 12 March 2012, of the Honourable Douglas Barr Scott, former Senator for New South Wales in 1970 and from 1974 to 1985, former Deputy President of the Senate from 1978 to 1979 and former Federal Minister for Special Trade Representations from 1979 to 1980, places on record its appreciation of his long and meritorious public service and tenders its profound sympathy to his family in their bereavement.

Throughout his 15-year career in politics, Senator Douglas Barr Scott contributed in a wide variety of roles. I am sure those who knew him, and I believe that Senator Nash did know Senator Scott, will be best placed to make a more in-depth and personal contribution than I can. I can, however, acknowledge his significant contribution to the Senate and to public life in Australia through his involvement in the federal parliament. On behalf of the government, I extend to his wife, Pamela, and his family our sincere sympathy in their bereavement.

3:40 pm

Photo of Fiona NashFiona Nash (NSW, National Party, Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Regional Education) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise to make a contribution today to the condolence motion for the Hon. Doug Barr Scott. I did have the good fortune on a couple of occasions to meet Doug, and when I did it really struck me that, even though it was many years after he had left the Senate, he still carried with him a very strong sense of character. He was very imposing, he was a man that you certainly knew was in the room, and he carried that gravitas with him all his life.

In the interests of time—and I am aware that we do not have very much time—I will not spend a lot of time going through the chronological information in relation to Mr Scott, because we can do that through other channels. I really just want to touch on a few things about him. He was born in 1920, he was a farmer and grazier at Grenfell, and he had a real passion for regional communities and looking to the future to plan, to try and make things better and to fully utilise his opportunity to make a contribution in this place on behalf of regional communities. To his wife, Pamela, children, Dianne and Andrew, and all of his family, I extend on behalf of all of the coalition our very sincere condolences to them at this time.

Mr Scott was a Royal Australian Naval Volunteer Reserve from 1941 to 1945 and had many roles here in the parliament. He was Deputy Leader of the National Country Party in the Senate—

An honourable senator: Was he?

He was indeed. I, as deputy leader of the now National Party in the Senate, do feel a sense of kinship there. He was also Leader of the National Party in the Senate from 21 February 1980 to 1985. The party of course changed its name in that time, and he was appointed to many ministerial and parliamentary positions.

Somebody who did know Mr Scott very well was the Hon. Ian Armstrong OBE, AM, the former leader of the Nationals in New South Wales and former deputy premier. Ian had some observations to make about the Hon. Doug Scott which, importantly, come from him as someone who knew Mr Scott very well. Mr Armstrong said Mr Scott was kindly referred to as 'Senator Doug', which is really quite lovely, and that he was a man of great integrity. Ian said, 'Whatever he said, he researched well and articulated to the highest degree,' and that he had several passions.

Mr Scott's first passion was his family, and I note that in his maiden speech he referred to the family often. His second passion was his duties as a farmer. His third passion was for his district and his community, and his fourth passion was to map out a vision for the future short-, medium- and long-term plans for the nation. Mr Scott was apparently a tremendous sportsman. He was one of the best tennis players in the district and considered playing it at a state level. He was a very imposing figure in any crowd.

When I read through his maiden speech, it struck me how sometimes time does not move on and so many of those things that relate to regional communities that Doug was so passionate about still remain today. Indeed, in his maiden speech on 2 September 1970 he said:

I am concerned that the Federal Government should enter still more vigorously in cooperation with the States upon an attempt at real decentralisation, at real population balance in this magnificent country, so that we may in fact stem the tide of population drift which threatens rural Australia today. The drift is from the towns and the villages and the farms to the metropolitan colossi of our coastline.

I hope that Doug would have known that there are many of us on this side of the chamber who are certainly continuing to push that case that he started, that he was so involved with, regarding decentralisation.

Doug also made another very interesting suggestion in his maiden speech which I thought he put very well:

… and a suggestion that we should temper our concern for pure theory with social and political considerations lest we become slaves to ivory towered conceptions.

In closing, in his final speech I thought he really showed his consideration of others. He began his final speech by saying:

Mr President and honourable senators, I really ought to apologise for being part of the cause of keeping you away from your lunch on this Friday afternoon.

He went on in his final speech, 15 years later, to refer back to what he had said in his maiden speech:

… I think I said that we should not regard ivory tower concepts as being the total answer. Unless things work among people in the community it does not matter how magnificent the theory is on a piece of paper; you had better alter it.

I think that speaks very clearly and very loudly for many in regional communities today.

Mr Scott concluded his final speech by saying:

Mr President and honourable senators, thank you for the past 15 years.

On behalf of the National Party and the Liberal Party, I today place on record our very sincere appreciation for the enormous contribution to the Senate, regional communities and the nation that was made by the Hon. Doug Scott.

Question agreed to, honourable senators standing in their places.