Linnett, Mr L.

Grievance Debate        

I rise to remember and pay tribute to the life of Mr Leon Linnett. Today, I send our condolences to Mrs Linnett and two of their children, Adam and Kate, who still live on Kangaroo Island. Mr Linnett was a giant not only in the development of tourism in South Australia and in particular on Kangaroo Island, but also in his contribution to the hospitality industry generally. He was a pioneer in luxury accommodation at American River on Kangaroo Island with the Linnett's luxury resort. It has had various titles, but it was an enduring accommodation institution in this state.

It is important to remember over several decades of the Linnett's contribution to tourism and the advance of Kangaroo Island that, in an era when travel to Kangaroo Island was expensive—it usually required travelling on Ansett Airlines of South Australia and there were freight vessels but not ferries as we know today—the attendees were usually people of some financial means or honeymoon couples.

Fishing was the greatest attraction for the wealthy. I can recall famous people as a child, such as Bob and Dolly Dyer of BPPick a Box, if you can remember that era, as well as Ron Forster and others, who had expeditions to Kangaroo Island. Of course, there was an appreciation of unique fauna and flora. Fine dining at Linnetts was available, which was fairly exclusive to Kangaroo Island in those days. Guests would arrive on a Fokker Friendship aircraft. They were entertained with music and dancing and were dressed in cocktail attire.

They had the benefit of a saltwater swimming pool, which I think in circa 1960 was opened by Dawn Fraser, who attended on Kangaroo Island to do a lap of the pool. This was a very, very high luxury item, I can tell you, for Kangaroo Island. Fine food was enjoyed at Leon's restaurant. Drinks were in the Friendship Bar, which was named after the Fokker Friendship aircraft that used to transport people there, and the bus tours, later with Kings Travel, took their guests out to remote areas and landmarks.

Sometimes they would venture out our way at Western River and have afternoon tea on the verandah at the Western River homestead. They really did make an integrated tourism adventure for people who came to Kangaroo Island. Of course, this was in an era when you would stop to take photographs. In those days you had a camera with a reel, it took a couple of weeks to have it developed and then you got your pictures back. Occasionally, I can remember Linnetts buses stopping on the side of the road as they were on their way to Western River. Sometimes they would all get out with their cameras, take a photograph of me and my brother as we were skinny-dipping in the dam or whatever, but usually of wildlife, and sometimes they would stop and pick mushrooms.

Linnetts fishing charters also operated. Sir Thomas Playford, then Tom Playford, who is in the portrait here behind me, during his time of premiership would spend 10 days every January on Kangaroo Island and he would stay at the Linnetts luxury hotel, and he would come out to the west.

Ms Bedford: You keep saying that.

The Hon. V.A. CHAPMAN: It truly was. As a child, I was promised at about age 11 to be taken to Leon's restaurant when I turned 18, and I duly honoured that and flew from Adelaide back to Kangaroo Island. I had started university but was taken out to dinner at Leon's restaurant. This was a really big, special place, and it was an experience to remember for those who travelled there. Hundreds of honeymoon couples, who still live in South Australia, will tell you that they had honeymooned on Kangaroo Island at this place. It was pioneering. It was innovative in its day. It made a huge contribution to the international tourism market that we have. There are different products now to provide for this, but in its day it was truly magnificent.

Another thing that I think would be important to remember for Mr Linnett is that he understood the integration of the different services that came with tourism—transport, tours, high-class accommodation, good food, obviously refreshment. In those days it was probably beer and cocktails and spirits, although they have come back in fashion, and wine is still a major aspect in relation to that. This integration of these services, the support to each other in that community, was magnificent then, and I know that he would be looking down now to say, 'Don't give up, Kangaroo Island. You will be good again.'