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Tuesday 19 December 2017
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Just what I always wanted: Mason, 15-months-old, takes his pick of the toys after they were sorted by volunters Jim Ryan, Gary Weddall, Holly Blease and Kaye Weddall. Pictures: Gary Sissons
Christmas for giving CHRISTMAS will be a time of joy for hundreds of disadvantaged Western Port children this year. They are among the 354 beneficiaries of the Western Port Christmas Giving Program which has distributed about 370 food hampers (about eight tonnes of food) as well as toys and other gifts from the Hastings community hall. An estimated value of the food and toys distributed is $30,000. The annual program is a joint venture between Western Port Community Support, Salvation Army and other churches, service organisations, businesses, primary and secondary schools and generous people from around the Mornington Peninsula. Funding for the volunteer-run program comes through donations of money, food and toys, with no state or federal grants. Those wishing to donate can contact Mike O’Grady 0407 973 710 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Drowning that made world news Keith Platt email@example.com ALTHOUGH it was 50 years ago, many Australians can recall where they were when they heard that Australia had “lost” its 17th prime minister, Harold Holt. The news reverberated around the world, not necessarily because Mr Holt was known as a world leader, but because of the circumstances of his death: disappearing into the surf off a secluded beach within the restricted confines of the Portsea Officer Cadet School, at Point Nepean. Although his body was never found, the prime minister was presumed drowned and to most people it is
memories of a leader who went missing rather than his political achievements that linger. It took until 2005 for a coroner to officially assign the cause of is death to accidental drowning. In the lead up to last Sunday’s memorial service to commemorate Mr Holt’s death, federal MPs spoke warmly about Mr Holt, both in his roles as a minister and prime minister, a position he held for less than two years. “He oversaw the dismantling of the White Australia policy, throwing open our doors to people from all corners of the world and sowing the seeds for the successful multicultural society is today – the most successful multicultural society in the world,” Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull told
Parliament. Mr Holt had championed a “yes” vote in the 1967 referendum that saw Aboriginals being included in the national census. He had also been in office when Australia adopted decimal currency and “reintroduced” Australia “to our [Asian] region”. Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said Mr Holt’s public life “is perhaps unfairly remembered more for its tragic end rather than its worthy achievements”. Mr Holt had been “a breath of fresh air” in making himself available to the media with one of his “prepared remarks” being “All the way withy LBJ” – a reference to the then US President Lyndon Johnson – which
“became shorthand for Australia’s plunge into the jungledark of the Vietnam War”. The ready access Mr Holt gave the media also led to his often being photographed in his wetsuit with a spear gun or, most famously, surrounded by bikini-clad young women on the beach at Portsea. The image makers did their job well and the pictures helped portray an outdoor-loving, almost larrikin adventurous leader. Perhaps overlooked at the time, the day of Mr Holt’s death also saw the arrival of round-the-world solo sailor Alec Rose, later Sir Alec. Mr Holt had gone to Point Nepean with his “secret lover” and neighbour Marjorie Gillespie to watch Rose sail
his boat Lively Lady into Port Phillip. Also along for the day were Martin Simpson and Alan Stewart, friends of Mrs Gillespie's daughter, Vyner,. “Several boats were out to greet me [at The Heads] and one - a television launch - came alongside for pictures,” Rose later recalled in his book My Lively Lady. “I was warned of the dangerous currents and eddies of the narrow channel through The Heads - but I passed through safely, feeling the swirl as I did so. “I didn’t know it at the time, but one of the watchers on the point as I sailed was Mr Holt, the prime minister, who was tragically drowned a few minutes later.” Continued Page 7
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Western Port News 19 December 2017