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- Death of Geoffrey Talbot CHINCHEN, DFC, MBE.

1965.  Members of the Legislative Assembly in Queensland [from left] Mr K W Hooper; Mr G T Chinchen; Mr J D Herbey; Mr T A Hiley, Deputy Premier; and Mr N W Lee with Mr M R Krishna [centre],
Chairman of India's National Institute of Sport and also a Congress Party Member of the Lok Sabha, who is touring Australia to obtain information about sports for rural children in India. 
He is also talking with influential Australians in political industrial and business circles.  [NAA Image No. A1501]

Read by: Hon. Peter D. BEATTIE, Queensland Premier and Treasurer.  WEDNESDAY, 10 AUGUST 2005:

I move—That this House desires to place on record its appreciation of the services rendered to this state by the late Geoffrey Talbot Chinchen, a former member of the parliament of Queensland, and that Mr Speaker be requested to convey to the family of the deceased gentleman the above resolution together with an expression of the sympathy and sorrow of the members of the parliament of Queensland in the loss that they have sustained.  Before I commence, I am advised by the minister for police and member for Mount Gravatt that Mr Chinchen’s widow, Heather, and her son David are in the gallery today. I pass on to both of them my personal condolences and the condolences of all members of the government. 

Mr Geoffrey Talbot Chinchen was born on 31 July 1915 in Elsternwick, Victoria and educated at Melbourne and Geelong technical colleges, where he studied accountancy.  Prior to the outbreak of World War II, Mr Chinchen worked in the sales department for the Ford Motor Company in Geelong, before joining the Royal Australian Air Force.  He was trained on the third-last Cadet course at Point Cook.  After graduation in early 1940 was posted as an instructor to No. 2 Service Flight Training School, Forest Hill, Wagga.

Mr Chinchen became a fighter pilot with No. 3 Squadron, being promoted to Flight Lieutenant.  He was recommended for the Distinguished Flying Cross in 1942 for skills on numerous dive-bombing and machine gun attacks, and was presented [after his escape from Germany] with this insignia by His Majesty King George VI at Buckingham Palace, London, in 1944. 

For exceptional courage in his escape from a German prisoner of war camp, Mr Chinchen was honoured again when he was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire in 1945.  Following his distinguished career in the Royal Australian Air Force [finishing with the rank of Squadron Leader], Mr Chinchen married his long-time girlfriend in December 1946 and returned to work for the Ford Motor Company in Geelong.  He was transferred to Brisbane with his family in 1952 and promoted to Ford Queensland manager.

Mr Chinchen and his wife later purchased a property at Rochedale, where they worked together as farmers, growing Potatoes, Paw Paws and Bananas.

Mr Chinchen ventured into the political arena as chairperson of the Rochedale branch of the Queensland Liberal Party and continued on to be elected as the member for Mount Gravatt in the state election in 1963.  In his maiden speech in this House, Mr Chinchen communicated his desire to contribute his experiences as a civilian and his observation as a relative newcomer to Queensland. He expressed his views for the future development of Queensland and encouraged a philosophy of change within parliament.

Mr Chinchen spoke of government modernisation, business processes and population growth—all of which remain current issues in today’s society.  As a parliamentarian he was part of the 'Ginger Group' in the late 1960s, which included people such as Charles Porter, John Murray and Bill Lickiss and which rallied for amendments to the state’s electoral system—something which many members on my side of the House shared, I can tell you. Mr Chinchen was a member of a number of committees including the parliamentary Select Committee on Subordinate Legislation and the government committee inquiry into consumer affairs. He also served as a Liberal Party whip. Mr Chinchen was a member of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association and a delegate to the Australasian Regional Conference, the General Conference held at Mauritius and part of the parliamentary delegation to Japan and South-East Asia. He retired from parliament in 1977.

Mr Chinchen’s funeral service was held on Friday, 22 July 2005 at the Anglican Church of St Mary the Virgin, Kangaroo Point.  I again take this opportunity to extend my sympathy and that of this House to his family, his wife, Heather, his children and their families.

By way of addition, I should pay particular tribute to Mr Chinchen because of his involvement in the Ginger Group. Those of us who followed Queensland politics during the sixties, seventies, eighties and nineties—particularly in the seventies and eighties—will know that the Ginger Group were people of considerable principle.  Although I did not agree with everything they said and did, they at least had the courage to stand up in the party room, in the coalition that existed at that time, and argue for Liberal principles.

One of the most important principles that they argued for was fair electoral boundaries.  There is something that needs to be highlighted, and that is the National Party mal-apportionment which existed for many years.  Indeed it started in the late forties under a Labor government, I hasten to add, but was fine-tuned and excelled under the National Party in a way that even the Labor Party in those days could not have dreamed of, which I have to say is not of any credit to either the Labor Party or the National Party.  But the Ginger Group argued for fair electoral boundaries.  The old boundaries disadvantaged the Liberal Party as much as they did the Labor Party.  Fair electoral boundaries advantage democracy.  It was only the Liberal Party and the Labor Party that were disadvantaged, because we were not given a fair go.

This Ginger Group actually believed in principle.  This Ginger Group did have a commitment to fair electoral boundaries, and I want to highlight that because that was about giving the public a say. That was about ensuring that Queenslanders could change the government if the will of the government said that the government should be changed.  The Ginger Group believed in principle, and Mr Chinchen is someone whom I personally subscribe to, as I know all members of government do.  It was hard to be a member of the Ginger Group within those political circumstances, bearing in mind the political circumstances of the day, and that is why he was clearly a man of character and strength and I admire that.

Editor's Note: Geoff clearly had "The Right Stuff" for leadership.  Our historian friend Gordon Bennett writes:

I was digging in the file of reports from the RAAF Liaison Officer to Fighter Command in the United Kingdom in 1945 while at National Archives recently, and came across a reference to FLTLT CHINCHEN after he had returned to the UK in October 1944 following his escape from the Germans.  CHINCHEN was at an Operational Training Unit undertaking a Night Fighter course, which he was due to complete in early June 1945.  He was being considered to replace WGCDR HOWARD DFC as Commanding Officer of 464 Squadron.  HOWARD was tour-expired, but had stayed on at 464 Squadron until a successor could be found.  The role of 464SQN had changed from that of a defensive Night Fighter squadron to a close-support Night Fighter squadron, operating with the main force of Bomber Command, and CHINCHEN was doing his Night Fighter OTU before joining the squadron.

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