Condolence Motion: Samuel John Everett Loxton, OBE

Written on the 7 February 2012

Although I did not have the privilege of knowing the late Sam Loxton, OBE, I am pleased to add my short contribution to this condolence motion debate.


We have already heard from some members who have spoken this afternoon about some of his great achievements and the great legacy he left to the seat of Prahran and also to the Liberal Party.


As we have heard, Sam not only had an extraordinary sporting career as a first class all-round sportsman, but he also served for three years, from 1942-45, in the Australian Imperial Force, and was a well-respected member of the Victorian Parliament. As we have heard, his sporting prowess showed when he was at Wesley College. He rose to prominence playing Australian Rules football for St Kilda soon after he left school. In 1942 he debuted with St Kilda, kicking 114 goals before he retired from that sport in 1946 to concentrate his efforts on the game of cricket. Sam's natural sporting talents enabled him to again rise to prominence in the game of cricket. He was a member of Don Bradman's Invincibles, which went through the 1948 tour of England undefeated, as we have heard.


It is well known that that tour was an unprecedented achievement that has never been matched.


Much has been written about Sam Loxton's cricket ability, the Invincibles tour and his years as a cricket administrator at club, state and international level. I am told that for Sam it was a great source of conversation with his constituents, his colleagues and the general public. Apparently he had a wonderful sense of humour and a truly larger-than-life personality, a trait that made him so popular in this place and probably one of the most genuinely popular members ever elected to the Victorian Parliament.


As has been said, Sam Loxton joined the Liberal Party in 1950.


Henry Bolte, who was at the time the leader of the Victorian Liberal Party and the state opposition leader, actively encouraged Sam to enter politics after hearing about his involvement and argumentative performance in a debate at a cricket club meeting. That encouragement paid off. In September 1954 Sam Loxton won preselection for the Legislative Assembly seat of Prahran. At the time the seat was held comfortably by the Labor Party and his chances of winning were deemed to be slim. That did not apparently deter Sam, who was not going to just fly the flag for the party. Instead Sam worked very hard to ensure that he had a significant profile going into the election. That profile was assisted when the election campaign coincided with a state cricket final where Sam was playing for Prahran. Mr Jennings made reference to that in his contribution. Sam not only took seven wickets in that game but also scored 129 runs. Needless to say, Prahran won and Sam was hailed a local hero.


In a close-run contest at the election Sam won the seat of Prahran, which in turn helped Sir Henry Bolte to win government. At the time, as has been noted, Sam was the youngest member of the Victorian Parliament. He went on to hold the seat of Prahran for 24 years until his retirement in 1979. He was elected whip in 1961 -- a position he held from 1961 until his retirement in 1979. He was not only an effective whip but also apparently a very popular one. Mr Jennings also alluded to Sam's popularity in the party room.


It is regarding Sam's position of whip that I recall a story that my father tells, demonstrating Sam's great sense of humour. At the first party meeting after the 1973 election and after Sam had yet again been elected as whip, he told members, 'You have just won an election as Hamer's dickie birds, but just remember, from now on you are Sam's roosters!'. There was much hilarity and amusement from members, and I think that is testament to Sam's great personality.


He will be remembered not only for his outstanding sporting prowess and his great sense of humour but also for his meritorious service to the state of Victoria and to the Liberal Party as the member for Prahran for all those years.


The PRESIDENT -- I had the opportunity to meet with Sam Loxton on a number of occasions. In those days I was in the Young Liberal Movement, and I was president for a period which coincided with Sam Loxton's service to the Parliament. I can certainly attest to the camaraderie that he engendered in the Liberal Party and his parliamentary colleagues at that time.


His sense of humour has been mentioned. Something I would reflect on in the remarks that have been made -- one remark by Mr David Davis and one an errant note sounded by Mr Pakula -- is that Mr Loxton might have stayed in two places a little longer. The first thing is that I cannot understand why, as Mr Davis suggested to the house, Mr Loxton retired as an umpire when his vision


deteriorated; it is not as though that has affected most other umpires. The second thing is Mr Pakula's suggestion that perhaps we should be fearful that Merv Hughes is bound for politics, if indeed the Australian cricket board selector position is a qualification. Certainly Mr Loxton might well have stayed on that selection panel for considerably longer. We might have seen a few more Victorians appointed to the Australian cricket team to the benefit of that team rather than a procession of New South Welshmen.


Having said both remarks with humour, in the context and spirit of Mr Loxton's own personality, I indicate that he was an outstanding Victorian, and it is always a loss for many people when a person of his calibre departs. As a token of respect we will have a minute's silence.


Motion agreed to in silence, honourable members showing unanimous agreement by standing in their places.

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