The Honourable Sir Gordon Chalk KBE

Award of Doctor of Laws honoris causa

The Honourable Sir Gordon Chalk KBE

Mr Chancellor,

Tonight we honour a man who has had a long and distinguished record of public service to the state of Queensland. Sir Gordon William Wesley Chalk - the two middle names may not be so widely known, but are appropriately revealed on such an occasion as this when all must be told - was born at Rosewood in 1913 and was educated at the Rosewood State School and the Gatton State High School. After leaving school he studied accountancy and commerical law and later joined the staff of a major Queensland company, Toowoomba Foundry Pty. Ltd.

In 1947 he entered parliament as Liberal Member for Toowoomba East. He transferred to the Lockyer Electorate in 1950 and he has been a member of the state parliament for more than a quarter century. He has been a Minister of the Crown since 1957,  first as Minister for Transport and since 1965 as Deputy Premier and Treasurer. His capacities and skills will be attested to by many; he has prodigious energy, an extremely wide knowledge of the processes of government, and a great capacity to get things done. People go to Gordon; he is consulted by many on a wide range of matters. As Treasurer it is understandable that many things would fall within his sphere of interest, but his advice and assistance is not only sought because of this. Rather it is because it is universally recognised that he is a person of judgement, standing and authority in the government of this State. He commands great respect in the community, the parliament, the government of Queensland and in the nation.

Until 1974, when the Commonwealth Government assumed exclusive responsibility for the financing of universities, we in The University of Queensland had much to do with the state government and much to do with the Treasurer. I came to know Sir Gordon Chalk shortly before I assumed office as Vice-Chancellor. He made it clear to me that the government was sympathetic to the needs of the University and I have taken advantage of the remarkably easy path to Sir Gordon's door and ear on many occasions. Despite the extraordinary demands on his time, he is accessible. While there have been some stern arguments, his willingness to support and to advocate support for the University has greatly encouraged us. He is not a university man himself, though he has links with us through his family, but I believe that he has a clear and imaginative understanding of the role of the University in this community. I do not think that it is appropriate to list here the many imaginative steps he has taken to assure support of the University, but you, sir, will remember an occasion in 1972 when a team from the University led by you met with Sir Gordon and his advisors to discuss important financial issues, bearing on student fees. The matter was debated over a memorable hour. What Sir Gordon recommended to the cabinet is perhaps not as well known to the students as it might be. There are other instances of support, large and small. Sometimes the smaller ones have been very important in revealing his interest in various matters which, while not in the University's daily "bread and butter" life, have helped us to become a better institution. Only a few weeks ago, he formally opened the Toowoomba University Centre in which he had shown a lively interest and for which he had secured government support.

He has helped the University in many ways other than those directly involving money. When we have had difficulties, he has been enouraging and has serviced to interpret the University's problems to his colleagues in government and to the wider community. There are so many issues on which he has been consulted, on which he has offered advice and help, and it is my view - and there really is no doubt about it - that the University owes a great deal to him on many counts.

I spoke earlier of Gordon Chalk's prodigious energy. He is ubiquitous: he attends all manner of functions and public activities; he is frequently present at University ceremonies with his equally energetic wife whom we are pleased to see here tonight, he is at the theatres, music and artistic occasions, sporting occasions, festive occasions, everywhere. I suspect that he likes it, and his presence certainly gives a great deal of encouragement to many community enterprises and activities.

Mr Chancellor, I present to you Gordon William Wesley Chalk, Knight Commander of the most excellent Order of the British Empire, Member of the Legislative Assembly; Deputy Premier and Treasurer of the state of Queensland for admission to the degree of Doctor of Laws 'honoris causa'.

Honorary award citation


Doctor of Laws honoris causa