Condolences for Mr Ronald George Payne

05 May 2015 archivespeech

Condolences on behalf of the Liberal Members for Mr Ronald George Payne

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK(14:29:00):I rise to support the remarks of the Leader of the Government in the Legislative Council and to add some condolences on behalf of all Liberal members. Mr Ronald George Payne served for 19 years in the House of Assembly and for that entire period of time in the electorate of Mitchell. For 13 of those years he was a minister in the Dunstan, Corcoran and Bannon governments. For a couple of months in 1975 he was minister for prices and consumer affairs. He also then subsequently served as minister for community welfare from 1975 to 1979. Then, for six months, he was minister for planning and water resources and housing during that period and, finally, as has been mentioned, he was minister for mines and energy from 1982 to 1988, during which time, I think it is understood, he made a great contribution to this state.

In his maiden speech to the parliament he raised a number of issues. He had been a former employee of the South Australian Institute of Technology, which has become the University of South Australia and, during that speech, he spoke about a number of issues in relation to technology, the union movement and aged care. Early in his career, he pointed to a sense of humour when he said:

I feel bound to report that at least one elector informed me that he was glad to be able vote a Payne into Parliament because Parliament had given him many a pain in years gone by. 

There were a number of issues that took place during his ministerial career, things that I think echo matters we continue to see today. In his earlier ministerial career, as minister for community welfare, he referred to social workers, and there was an article published in 1977 which said, 'Cut out social jargon—Payne', where he is quoted as saying:

There appears to be a need for a simpler, more basic qualification which will equip social workers to work effectively in the field.

And it was recommended that social workers should periodically go back to university or college to gain special knowledge relevant to their work, and we may see echoes of some of those matters in some of the challenges we have been facing at a state level.

He also, interestingly, had quite a role in the uranium debate. At one point, there was a report done under his tenure as the minister for mines and energy in which he said 'that the option was still open, given the debate that is currently taking place at government level'. It has certainly been a long time coming, but clearly that was on his radar at the time.

Further, wind energy was mooted as a potential source of energy, which would be then preferable to nuclear as an option. Hydroelectricity is another issue that was looked at during his term. At that particular point, the Warren Reservoir, close to the Barossa Valley, was being examined as a potential source there. A number of other issues—gas, Roxby Downs—the leader of the government has referred to as well.

Sometimes it is these quirks of reporting which do catch our eye, and the leader of the government did refer to the honourable member's attire. It was reported, on Mr Payne's retirement, about the fact that he eschewed the wearing of a tie, and I quote:

He knows he's worn a tie, but he can't remember when. Sporting an open necked shirt and reefer jacket, typical attireduring his 18 years in politics, Mr Ron Payne's last days as a State Minister ended with a bang yesterday.

One of the editorial comments referred to how this quality of his for not wearing a tie, a tie being deemed to be not necessarily appropriate for our environmental conditions, made him quite endearing. There are a number of references throughout articles on Mr Payne which I think do refer to his decency. Clearly, he was a minister who took his role seriously and acted in a very conscientious manner throughout his tenure. We pass on our condolences to his family. I support the motion.