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Brian Harradine, Long-Serving Independent Senator Expelled By ALP, Dies, 79

Brian Harradine, an influential independent senator from Tasmania, who was expelled by the ALP in 1975 following a long and bitter dispute in the aftermath of the 1950s Labor Split, has died at the age of 79.

Harradine was elected as an independent senator from Tasmania at the 1975 double dissolution election following the dismissal of the Whitlam Government. He was re-elected five times (1980, 1983, 1987, 1993 and 1999) and served for 30 years. He chose not to contest the 2004 election and left the Senate on June 30, 2005.

At various times, Harradine’s vote was a crucial balance of power factor in the Senate, especially between 1996 and 1999 when he was instrumental in supporting the Wik legislation and voting to privatise Telstra. He voted against the Howard government’s GST legislation in 1999.

A socially conservative Catholic, Harradine was an organiser with the Federated Clerks Union in the 1950s. He was Secretary of the Tasmanian Trades and Labour Council and a member of the Australian Council of Trade Unions executive from 1964 until 1976. He founded the Tasmanian division of the Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Association in 1967.

Harradine was a member of the ALP’s National Executive from 1968 until 1975, although the Socialist Left faction repeatedly voted to deny his right to sit. In 1968, the new leader of the party, Gough Whitlam, resigned his leadership in protest at Harradine’s treatment and was narrowly re-elected leader against a challenge by Dr. Jim Cairns.

The National Executive of the ALP expelled Harradine in September 1975. Whitlam said: “Harradine is the victim of perjured evidence.”

Harradine’s death is a reminder of a past world of ALP politics conducted at the height of the Cold War in the years following the 1950s Split.

Statement from the Harradine family.

Death of former Tasmanian Senator Brian Harradine

Former Tasmanian independent Senator Brian Harradine died today in Hobart after a long illness. He was 79.

Mr. Harradine, who was born in Quorn, South Australia, in 1935, was a former Secretary of the Tasmanian Trades and Labour Council, as was elected to the Australian Senate as an independent in 1975. He became the longest serving independent Senator in Australia’s history, earning him the title “Father of the Senate”. He retired from the Senate in 2005.

A spokesperson for the Harradine family said in a public career spanning more than 40 years, Brian Harradine tackled a wide range of issues of importance to people across the political spectrum.

“Brian Harradine was a great politician of the old school who connected with people from all walks of life,” the spokesperson said. “People saw in Brian a man of integrity who respected the dignity and worth of every person.”

Mr. Harradine’s first wife, Barbara, passed away in 1980. The couple had six children. In 1982, he married Marian, a widow with seven children.

Mr. Harradine passed away peacefully at home. Funeral arrangements are yet to be announced.

The anti-Harradine booklet shown below was circulated in the 1970s. Its authorship is not shown.

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Malcolm Farnsworth
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