THE State Funeral to be held today for the former Member for Leichhardt, the Hon. David Thomson MC, MP, will celebrate his life and remarkable achievements, says current Leichhardt MP Warren Entsch.
“David Thomson was well known as the National Party MP who in 1975 reclaimed the seat of Leichhardt after Labor had held it for 24 years,” said Mr Entsch.
“He was the Minister for Science and the Environment from December 1979 until November 1980 and then Minister for Science and Technology until the Fraser government’s defeat at the 1983 election.
“But what that doesn’t tell you about David is the fact that he was widely recognised as an ‘absolute gentleman’ and achieved some amazing things for our area.
“David encouraged the Federal Government to fund the expansion and upgrade of Cairns Airport in conjunction with the then-Cairns Harbour Board. Work began in 1981 and officially opened in early 1984, with a new runway and new domestic and international terminal.
“He convinced the Hon Malcolm Fraser to visit Burketown for their Never Never Get Together function where the PM presented the ‘Burke Order of the Outback’. This was the first time a PM had ever visited Burketown.
“He also took the then-Minister for Post and Telecommunications, Eric Robinson, to the Torres Strait as a precursor to the first public telephones being installed on each outer island.”
Before becoming a parliamentarian, David Thomson had a long and distinguished military career. Born in 1924, He enlisted in the Army in 1942 and graduated from the Royal Military College, Duntroon, being commissioned as an officer in 1943.
He saw active service in World War II in the South-West Pacific, took part in the landing at Balikpapan, New Guinea, and served in Japan 1946-48. While on active service in Korea in 1951 he was awarded the Military Cross (MC). He then served in Malaysia and Sarawak during the Malayan Emergency which took place from 1965-66. From 1967-70 he was Director of Infantry and Regimental Colonel of the Royal Australian Regiment.
“I was speaking to a long-time staff member of David’s and she described him as “the best employer ever” and a “thorough gentleman” who would never berate his staff if things didn’t go exactly to plan,” says Mr Entsch.
“I would occasionally run into him in Canberra and he was always interested in Leichhardt’s issues of the day and very quick to offer me advice, which I appreciated. Given my role as Parliamentary Secretary for the industry and science portfolios, and shared interest in tourism, we had a lot of common ground.”
David Thomson passed away on October 13 at Bateman’s Bay, New South Wales, aged 88.