OBITUARY: by Joseph PoprzecznyNews Weekly
A Labor Party statesman remembered - Hon. Kim Edward Beazley Snr. AO (1917-2007)
, November 10, 2007
The Hon. Kim Edward Beazley senior AO
(September 30, 1917 - October 12, 2007)Kim Beazley senior, father of former Labor Opposition leader Kim Beazley, died on October 12 2007 at a Perth hospital, aged 90.
He was a political stayer in every sense of that word.
He entered Federal Parliament, aged 27, succeeding prime minister John Curtin in the Western Australian seat of Fremantle following Curtin's death in the last year of World War II. He held that seat throughout his entire political career which ended in 1977, the year Gough Whitlam also departed politics.
Although Beazley held ministerial rank only once - during the three tempestuos years of the Whitlam Labor Government (1972-1975) - he was to be the only member of Whitlam's two short-lived governments to stay in a single portfolio, education, for his entire term.
He was born in Northam, 98 km east of Perth, on September 30, 1917, one of seven children. At the time, this major wheat-belt regional centre was represented in the WA Parliament by James Mitchell, a future premier and state governor.
Beazley grew up in Fremantle and attended WA's premier academic government secondary institution, Perth Modern, which boasts such academic luminaries as Rhodes Scholar, John Stone, who headed the Federal Treasury during 1979-84.
Beazley's academic strengths were in English and history. He topped the state in English in his final examinations and studied history at the University of WA, where he tutored until entering Federal Parliament in 1945.
In Canberra, Beazley was quickly seen as having ministerial potential, but was not elevated to the Ben Chifley ministry because he lacked party seniority.
During the more than two decades in the wilderness following Labor's 1949 defeat, Beazley - a Christian, humanitarian and social democrat - was regularly targeted by the party's influential leftist and pro-communist members.
A major reason for this was his support for the international religious movement Moral Re-Armament, his championing of Christian pro-life and pro-family values, and his deep contempt for any hint of a Marxist view of the world, which was influential within segments of the Labor Party from the 1940s to 1970s, that is, during the height of the Cold War.
Beazley regularly found himself having to take a strong stance against Labor's leftists who had engineered the party's third and most destructive split at its infamous 1955 Hobart Conference.
His opposition meant WA party stalwarts, such as hardline leftist, the Rev. Keith Dowding (father of future premier Peter Dowding), and leftist party secretary, F.E. "Joe" Chamberlain, targeted him, as they had Tom Burke (father of future premier, Brian Burke), who was actually denied re-endorsements for his Perth seat.
Although the Dowding-Chamberlain faction within the WA branch of the party made several attempts to remove Beazley from his Fremantle seat, he managed to thwart them.
Despite such perilous confrontations on his home turf, Beazley was never dissuaded from telling things as they were. For instance, on 28 March 1955, he addressed a special, and hostile, leftist-dominated party state executive in Perth to report on his delegacy to the Hobart Conference where constitutionally-credentialed delegates were displaced by leftist ring-ins.
His report reads in part: "At 2:30pm, on Monday 14th March, I was in attendance at the Trades Hall, Hobart, to attend the federal conference of the ALP scheduled to start at that time.
"Although I waited until 5pm, I was at no time able to get into the conference room. A dispute was taking place in the passage which gave access to the conference room.
"A doorkeeper was on guard and he was making an argument with certain men claiming to be delegates from Victoria. Some delegates were in the conference room, but the door was locked.
"I twice presented my credentials to the doorkeeper, but was not admitted. Subsequently, I presented my credentials to Mr Reece, who informed me, in a friendly fashion, that the doorkeeper could not admit anyone, as unauthorised persons would be able to get in.
"Each time I went back to the conference room the situation was unchanged, except that later plain-clothes police arrived."Never forgiven
Beazley was never forgiven by many in the Labor Party for his refusal to be identified with those who refused entry to the constitutionally-credentialed Victorian delegates.
Soon after the 1975 election it was revealed that the sacked Prime Minister Gough Whitlam had sought $US500,000 from agents of Iraq's Ba'ath regime (later led by the genocidal Saddam Hussein from 1979 to 2003) to help bankroll Labor's 1975 campaign.
Beazley so strongly objected to such clandestine links with Iraq that he soon decided to quit politics at the 1977 election.
Subsequently, he developed a close friendship with B.A. "Bob" Santamaria, founder of the National Civic Council and Australian Family Association.
Kim Beazley (snr) was given a state funeral at St George's Anglican Cathedral, Perth. He is survived by his wife Betty, son Kim, and daughter Merrilyn. His second son, David, died last year.- written by Joseph Poprzeczny.