Standing up for Canberra

Mr Bernie Freedman 2011

I rise today to draw the House's attention to the life and work of Bernie Freedman, one of the legends of the press gallery, and the only cockney, who recently passed away.

Bernie Freedman was born in 1924 in London's East End. Following service in World War II, he migrated to Australia, where he worked for various newspapers. In his career, he interviewed two legends of Australian politics, Ben Chifley and Sir Robert Menzies. During his time in the press gallery he reported on some of the leading stories of the 1950s. He was a leading journalist in bringing public attention to the defection of the Petrovs in 1954. Bernie also spent many years with Immigration, promoting the highly successful post-war migration program.

I met Bernie in the early 1990s when I was working on the racial vilification legislation with the AttorneyGeneral's Department and he was with the Australian Jewish News, whose press gallery office he opened. Apart from his work in the press gallery, Bernie also kept busy with many charitable and community activities and he was a keen traveller deeply interested in his own Jewish heritage.

In 2007 Bernie was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia for his service to journalism. Bernie will be deeply missed by his family, his press gallery colleagues and his many friends in this, his adopted and much loved home.

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