Sunday, July 23, 2017

A LABOUR POLITICIAN I REALLY ADMIRED


Arthur Faulkner.jpg

The Hon Arthur Faulkner held the Mt Roskill seat from 1957 through until he retired in 1981.    He served as Minister of Defence from 1972 to 1974 and was President of the Labour Party from 1976 to 1978 succeeding Sir Charles Bennett.

I got to know him well when I was seconded from 1 RNZIR in Singapore to be his Military Assistant.    In that capacity I accompanied him and Mrs Faulkner on official visits to Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Japan, Korea, the Philippines and Indonesia.      He was a man of great integrity and possessed a deal of common sense.    Faulkner was a friend of the military and it was a real pity that the military hierarchy didn't recognise that to their advantage.   Certainly he was head and shoulders above Bill Fraser, his successor.   It was also a pity that caucus machinations saw him defeated when he stood for election as Deputy Leader of his Party.    In my opinion he would have been a greater unifying force than Bob Tizard who, at best, was an acerbic character.

When I worked for him I was a relatively junior Captain but I found it interesting that he shared his official papers with me and asked for my comment.   Not sure he took any notice but it was nice to be asked.   He was also protective of me.   On the trip to Thailand the Chief of Defence, Sir Richard Webb, tried to 'poach' me to do something or other for him.   Faulkner told him to bugger off.   I was his.   Not sure that incident did my career any great good though.     After I finished up working for Faulkner I met the General again in Singapore.   His greeting ... Captain ****** just remember, you're mine now.

The other thing I remember about those trips was having to sign for and account for upwards of $50,000 in traveler's cheques to pay for our hotel expenses including official functions we had to host along with bribes (kid you not ... I once had to gift the guard at a military base in Indonesia hard cash in order to get him for him to open the gate for us ... this on the advice of our accompanying Indonesian protocol officer).    At that time when you converted US$500 to Rupiah you needed a bloody suitcase to cart the dosh around in.   No such thing as invoicing.   In God we trust ... all others pay cash.

IMHO the only current serving Labour MP who comes close to Arthur Faulkner is Damien O'Connor.  Sad. 



3 comments:

Ray said...

I had a feeling that he served in the R A F but neither Google or Wikipedia mention that . An entry on his wife suggested he did and may have flown Typhoons.

The Veteran said...

Ray ... I can confirm he served with the RAF as a spitfire pilot. On one of our trips we traveled by C130 Hercules and the co-pilot gave up his right hand seat so that the Minister could have a hands-on 'jolly' at 26,000 feet somewhere over the Sea of Japan.
Faulkner was chuffed.

Shelldrake said...

A bloody good guy. He was our MP in Roskill. Went to school with his kids. Mrs F a lovely lady. I think he had war wounds on his feet. They don't make Labour polticians like him any more.