Wednesday 29 November 2006


Mr FINCH (Statement) - Mr President, I am going to pay tribute to another contributer to Tasmania - along with Evan Rolley - one of the voices of Tasmania, that of ABC broadcaster, Ric Paterson. His voice will not be heard on radio after 22 December and it is fitting that I pay tribute to Ric -

Mr Parkinson - Tim Cox might have an audience.

Mr FINCH - That is unfair to Tim. It is fitting that I should pay tribute to Ric. He is a long‑time colleague of mine and a good friend too. He is retiring after 42 years of broadcasting. I beat Ric to leaving broadcasting but he beat me as far as time on air is concerned. I am sure that he will reflect on those memories of playing something like 16 400 songs during his time on air and conducting something like 8 360 interviews. It has been a long, illustrious career. He announced his retirement this week at the launch of the ABC Giving Tree and he stated that he has always regarded it as a privilege to be a broadcaster and a part of the daily lives of many Tasmanians. Indeed, radio personalities, especially on our public broadcaster, particularly the Breakfast Show, do become an important part of people's daily lives. I shared that experience, being an early-morning presenter on ABC Radio in northern Tasmania. In fact I was at one time called the human alarm clock because people make you a very important part of their day. Whether the topic is the weather, the news, or what is happening in the community, these are of interest.

As Ric has said, it has been to him a great privilege and a responsibility. I first worked with Ric, and people did not realise this when I turned up for a celebration of his fortieth year in radio, when I was 15 years of age. Ric was, at that stage, 16, and the youngest capital city broadcaster in Australia at that time.

Ms Thorp - What happened to post-compulsory education?

Members laughing.

Mr FINCH - Yes, why would you worry about it? Look what it can lead to if you do not get involved.

Ric, at that stage, was a student of Taroona High School who entered a competition at 7HT to find a junior DJ; Ric won the competition and was then offered a job by then manager, John Howell. Ric, I think, had a natural talent for radio and I remember at that time the famous broadcaster in Australia was 2UE in Sydney boasting names like Bob Rogers and John Laws. They in fact head-hunted Ric Paterson when he was 18 years of age and wanted him to move to Sydney, recognising his talent at that early age. Fortunately for Tasmania, Ric did not go but stayed here to develop a very successful career.

I remember some of those wonderful days on 7HT with his Saturday Night Request Show. It will be dim in people's memories now, but imagine the phones being flooded with cheerios and requests for five hours non-stop; the switchboard lit up, such was the popularity of the program. I remember vividly, too, our involvement in the 1967 bushfires; a lot of people think that it was the ABC that stayed on the air during that time. It was in fact 7HT which stayed on air and became the conduit for all the news and Ric Paterson was the one who did two shifts - 18-hour shifts would be close to the mark. He was the one who was the heartbeat, really, of the broadcasting during those fires.

Ric has not just been a studio broadcaster. He has been a compere, a fine actor and producer, the voice of the Royal Hobart Show for more than 20 years; he has played Santa for hundreds of local charities; he founded the ABC Giving Tree and the Giving Tree Choir which has given an opportunity for some 900 young people over the years to become involved in that venture. I believe this was the most telling part of his farewell speech, and I quote:

'I have been so lucky to have done, for a living, something I have loved so much. Since the age of 8 that's all I wanted to do, to become a radio announcer. My time with the ABC has been at times invigorating, frustrating, challenging, but always so enjoyable and I can say this to ABC management now and get away with it - I have loved radio so much, instead of you paying me I would have paid you for the privilege of being on radio, but don't ask for the money back - I have spent it all.'

Few working people can say that, Mr President, but I think one of the big acknowledgments of Ric during his career would have been in 2003 when he was named Tasmanian of the Year by the Governor, Sir Guy Green. Ric went along thinking he was going to interview the winner and I think he ended up interviewing himself. He has been a great Tasmanian; and is amongst those names that we remember in broadcasting, like Ken Short, Bob Curé, John Loughlin -

Mr Dean - Kerry Finch.

Mr FINCH - Kerry Finch.

Members laughing.

Mr FINCH - I think Ric Paterson will be remembered amongst those famous names and I pay tribute to him, not only as a great broadcaster but as a wonderful, contributing Tasmanian.

Members - Hear, hear.