Condolence - Hon. Robin Rhodes Millhouse QC

Ms CHAPMAN ( BraggDeputy Leader of the Opposition) (14:18): I rise to support the Premier's motion to recognise and pay tribute to Robin Rhodes Millhouse QC in the presence of his family and some of his former colleagues. As we know, Mr Millhouse entered this parliament in 1955, at a time before almost all of us were born. Once the 1960s and even the 1970s came around, there was a major period of legal, electoral, social and political reform. It was a great time, I think, for him to have served in his public office in a political life, culminating at that time as Attorney-General in the Hall government. 

Much has already been said about his reformist agenda and his preparedness to speak up in respect of issues that were popular at the time, remembering that this was a fairly volatile period for Australian politics, when the Prime Minister had gone missing on a Victorian beach, presumed to have been either eaten by a shark or taken in a Russian submarine. It was a very volatile time. His advocacy is well known, as is his ultimate, second and most impressive career as a Justice of the Supreme Court and then in a justice role on behalf of the national government in the islands surrounding Australia. I thought the most effective phrase to capture the personality of Robin Millhouse was one of his good friends Rex Jory's, who described him as being 'unfailingly courteous, generous and instructive'. He was referring to their continued relationship and friendship post his residency in New South Wales.

As some would say, it was a gentle era for politicians, but I think that it was highly revolutionary. The issues that I think need to be recorded are relevant to his push to have a nudist beach in South Australia, which ultimately was declared at Maslin Beach on our southern beaches. It was very controversial at the time (it was, in fact, in my father's electorate at the time) and there were extensive petitions for and against it. However, Mr Millhouse took the view that it was important that there be a private area, where there was not a high level of residency, for people to be in their state of undress and for all of the attributes that went with that.

He invited the then Jennifer Adamson—later Jennifer Cashmore, a minister in the Tonkin government—to attend with him to skinny dip at Maslin Beach. She relied on the wonderful Oscar Wilde response: 'I have only one thing to decline, and that's your invitation.' Notwithstanding what was quite significant public outrage at the time, he continued and decided that, in his era on the bench in the Supreme Court, he would delight and surprise young practitioners who would go to his chambers when hearing an application out of court. The Speaker smiles and reminisces. I am not quite sure whether you were one of those practitioners. It would have been a long time ago, of course. 

It was quite common for people to come into his chambers and be seated to hear the applications. The judge would already be seated, but you would have to walk past his mantelpiece to actually sit down. Of course, if you took some poor, young, hapless junior with you, they would almost drop the brief as they walked past the mantelpiece after seeing the judge in a large framed photograph in a complete state of undress. It was quite a challenge for some of our young practitioners, but it was an initiation that indicated to them the level of fun and eccentricity, to some degree, displayed by His Honour. He was obviously out to shock in other areas. He insisted on riding a bicycle to court rather than taking a publicly funded car, etc. 

Perhaps a reflection of the era in which he served during the 1970s was his insistence on continuing his practice at the bar. He would be known, according to the Hon. Graham Gunn, to ask a question at 2 o'clock at question time and then immediately hop in his car and be driven down to the Supreme Court to resume a trial as senior counsel at 2.15. Those were the days. 

Unsurprisingly, his passion for physical activity meant that he was an extremely fit man and enjoyed a long life. My earliest memories of him in this capacity include his service to the Army. It is not well known, but he would take patrols out to regional South Australia. On one occasion, it was to the cliffs of Western River, where he was asked to take a patrol for them to do what was the early version of parasailing and climbing up and down cliffs for fitness for the Australian Army. As I said, there is not much mention of Mr Millhouse's contribution in that regard, but he did hold quite a senior rank in the Army. 

Finally, I would not say that Mr Millhouse was instrumental in my taking up a career in the law. However, in 1970 I attended as a witness in a case in the Supreme Court. Mr Jim Crammond (now deceased) appeared for the applicant, Mr Robin Millhouse appeared for the respondent and the judge was Justice Sangster—not something that you would rush to—he has also since passed. I was a witness at the age of 13 and had the pleasure of being cross-examined by Robin Millhouse for 2½ hours. I would have to say that, on balance, it was a character-building exercise. It was my first introduction to court procedure and the opportunity for another life post-education.

I thank Mr Millhouse for his service to public office. To his family, and the sacrifice they inevitably make during a time when a parent undertakes decades of public service to us in South Australia, to the nation and, of course, to our neighbouring colonies, thank you very much.

As some would say, it was a gentle era for politicians, but I think that it was highly revolutionary. The issues that I think need to be recorded are relevant to his push to have a nudist beach in South Australia, which ultimately was declared at Maslin Beach on our southern beaches. It was very controversial at the time (it was, in fact, in my father's electorate at the time) and there were extensive petitions for and against it. However, Mr Millhouse took the view that it was important that there be a private area, where there was not a high level of residency, for people to be in their state of undress and for all of the attributes that went with that. He invited the then Jennifer Adamson—later Jennifer Cashmore, a minister in the Tonkin government—to attend with him to skinny dip at Maslin Beach. She relied on the wonderful Oscar Wilde response: 'I have only one thing to decline, and that's your invitation.' Notwithstanding what was quite significant public outrage at the time, he continued and decided that, in his era on the bench in the Supreme Court, he would delight and surprise young practitioners who would go to his chambers when hearing an application out of court. The Speaker smiles and reminisces. I am not quite sure whether you were one of those practitioners. It would have been a long time ago, of course. It was quite common for people to come into his chambers and be seated to hear the applications. The judge would already be seated, but you would have to walk past his mantelpiece to actually sit down. Of course, if you took some poor, young, hapless junior with you, they would almost drop the brief as they walked past the mantelpiece after seeing the judge in a large framed photograph in a complete state of undress. It was quite a challenge for some of our young practitioners, but it was an initiation that indicated to them the level of fun and eccentricity, to some Page 9402 HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY Tuesday, 9 May 2017 degree, displayed by His Honour. He was obviously out to shock in other areas. He insisted on riding a bicycle to court rather than taking a publicly funded car, etc. Perhaps a reflection of the era in which he served during the 1970s was his insistence on continuing his practice at the bar. He would be known, according to the Hon. Graham Gunn, to ask a question at 2 o'clock at question time and then immediately hop in his car and be driven down to the Supreme Court to resume a trial as senior counsel at 2.15. Those were the days. Unsurprisingly, his passion for physical activity meant that he was an extremely fit man and enjoyed a long life. My earliest memories of him in this capacity include his service to the Army. It is not well known, but he would take patrols out to regional South Australia. On one occasion, it was to the cliffs of Western River, where he was asked to take a patrol for them to do what was the early version of parasailing and climbing up and down cliffs for fitness for the Australian Army. As I said, there is not much mention of Mr Millhouse's contribution in that regard, but he did hold quite a senior rank in the Army. Finally, I would not say that Mr Millhouse was instrumental in my taking up a career in the law. However, in 1970 I attended as a witness in a case in the Supreme Court. Mr Jim Crammond (now deceased) appeared for the applicant, Mr Robin Millhouse appeared for the respondent and the judge was Justice Sangster—not something that you would rush to—he has also since passed. I was a witness at the age of 13 and had the pleasure of being cross-examined by Robin Millhouse for 2½ hours. I would have to say that, on balance, it was a character-building exercise. It was my first introduction to court procedure and the opportunity for another life post-education. I thank Mr Millhouse for his service to public office. To his family, and the sacrifice they inevitably make during a time when a parent undertakes decades of public service to us in South Australia, to the nation and, of course, to our neighbouring colonies, thank you very much.