PARLIAMENT HOUSE, CANBERRA: We’d had legends before like Boy Charlton and Frank Beaurepaire and Fanny Durack, but they did not capture the public mood in the same way. It was the right moment for a whole group of athletes and the right moment for Melbourne.
I don’t think Melbourne was ever the same again.” Journalist and an Olympic historian Mr Harry Gordon recently wrote in an obituary for the late Mr Murray Rose. Of course, he was referring not just to Murray but to a number of other stellar athletes at the time who captured the public imagination during the Melbourne Olympic Games in 1956, but he was particularly highlighting, the performance of Murray Rose and his incredible three gold medals at that event.
I would like this evening to associate my name with the remarks which have been made by the member for Cook and other people who have spoken on this condolence motion and briefly add my condolences to this motion, to Mr Rose’s family.
Murray Rose was born in Scotland in 1939. He came to Australia when he was a very young boy. He was educated in Sydney at the Cranbrook School and went on to graduate with a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Southern California in the United States, where he spent much of his time.
He started his swimming career, though, very early on and this is what was so remarkable in some respects about Murray Rose. At the age of only 17 he had won four Olympic gold medals and, amazingly, set 15 world records over the course of his career. At the Olympic Games he was one of the superstars for Australia.
Of course there have been many great swimmers since Murray Rose. Many indeed have won more gold medals. But as was written in the Australian:
His was a languid beauty in the water at a time when there were no underwater cameras to record the furious work beneath the surface, only eye witnesses to the seemingly effortless stroke keeping time for eight or 15 laps of the pool.
He was known as being an incredibly handsome man. He captured the people’s imagination.
Later in his life he went on to have an acting career in the United States. He played an Australian big wave rider in the 1964 film Ride the Wild Surf and four years later Murray played a military officer in Ice Station Zebra.
The New York Times reported that Murray Rose ‘has become, in a very short time, an All-Australian Boy among those looking for a hero Down Under’.
After finishing his swimming and acting careers, Mr Rose went on to make other contributions and for those he is equally well recognised. As the member for Cook mentioned previously, he was the patron of the Australian charity, the Rainbow Club, which teaches disabled children how to swim. He made an incredible contribution in that and that club still continues to this very day.
A number of prominent Australian swimmers have also pointed out that he was an incredible mentor for them. Grant Hackett described him as a major inspiration for his swimming career. The Prime Minister also said that Murray ‘helped shape Australia’s destiny as a successful sporting nation overall’. Murray Rose was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia due to his contributions to Australian society. He was married twice. He had a daughter Somerset with his first wife Bobbie. The couple separated and he remarried later to an American, Jodi Wintz, a principal ballerina, and both Jodi and their son Trevor survive him.
I pass my condolences to his family members and our prayers and thoughts are with them.