House of Representatives Speech- Mr Gareth Clayton

I rise today to speak about Gareth Clayton, a predecessor of mine as the federal member for Isaacs, who tragically passed away on 1 July in Bangkok, Thailand, following a road accident. Gareth was born in Hampshire, England, in 1942 and studied at Liverpool University, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science. He also obtained a Diploma of Education from Makerere University in Uganda. Gareth then came to Australia where he worked as a teacher before becoming a scientific officer for the Australian Road Research Board. In 1974 at the double dissolution election that saw Gough Whitlam win a second term as Prime Minister, Gareth won the seat of Isaacs for Labor from the Liberal, David Hamer.

I rise today to speak about Gareth Clayton, a predecessor of mine as the federal member for Isaacs, who tragically passed away on 1 July in Bangkok, Thailand, following a road accident. Gareth was born in Hampshire, England, in 1942 and studied at Liverpool University, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science. He also obtained a Diploma of Education from Makerere University in Uganda. Gareth then came to Australia where he worked as a teacher before becoming a scientific officer for the Australian Road Research Board. In 1974 at the double dissolution election that saw Gough Whitlam win a second term as Prime Minister, Gareth won the seat of Isaacs for Labor from the Liberal, David Hamer. It is worth noting that at that election Labor lost five seats and Isaacs was one of only two seats that Labor won from the opposition. Gareth was an active local Labor member. ALP branch meetings at the time were held at his home in Chelsea. Bob Corcoran, a very long-serving local ALP branch member, remembers Gareth as someone who did not feel bound by convention, which included once turning up in the chamber in a red jumper rather than the obligatory suit. Gareth held his seat for only one term, losing it to David Hamer in the 1975 election that followed the disgraceful dismissal of the Whitlam government.

His maiden speech in this place had three areas of focus: equality for women, fairness for Indigenous Australians and care for the environment. I am proud to share these long-held Labor values with Gareth and I think that there would be few members of this parliament now who would disagree with his sentiments. Back in 1974, however, these were not universally agreed positions. After serving in parliament, Gareth went on to have a very strong academic career, including more than a decade in Thailand as a special lecturer in statistics at King Mongkut’s University of Technology in North Bangkok. Gareth’s commitment to public life extended to being a regular contributor to the Thai publication The Nation, where he wrote on a range of matters, including education in Thailand, the ongoing religious conflict in the south of the country and the recent heated protests in Bangkok. Having read some of the 40 pages of online tributes his students left following his passing, it is clear to see that in his post-parliamentary career Gareth was a dedicated, caring and much loved academic. His legacy will live on through the many students he taught both in Australia and in Thailand. I paid my condolences to his loved ones, his family, his friends and those in my local community who knew Gareth from his time as the member for Isaacs.