Class of 1957

The second Fred Chaney to grace the playing fields of Aquinas was truly a chip off the old block. He left Aquinas College as prefect, third in his year overall, captain of the Debating team and winner of the Oratory Prize. He graduated from university in Law and was admitted as a barrister and solicitor in WA in 1963. He practised in Papua New Guinea but knew ultimately he would follow in his father’s footsteps and join the cutthroat world of politics. So it was, he was elected in the 1971 by-election of Ascot running for a seat in the State Legislative Assembly. He was elected to federal parliament as a Liberal Senator in 1974 and became leader of the Opposition in the Senate from 1983 to 1990 when he became the first member for the division of Pearce in the House of Representatives. He was named deputy leader of the Liberal Party in May 1989 and retained this post until April 1990, two months after transferring to the Lower House.

Like his father, he was a man of integrity who could see that the needs of the country should take precedence over the needs of the party and, therefore, left it in 1995 believing that he needed to work cross-party to get things done. His hard work in support of marginalised people has never faltered and indeed runs like a rich seam through the Chaney family.

He was a founding co-chair of Reconciliation Australia and an early advocate of aboriginal voting rights. Fred established the Aboriginal Legal Service of Western Australia and he sat as Federal Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (1978-80). He was Deputy President of the National Native Title Tribunal and more recently Chair of Desert Knowledge Australia. Fred also played a key role in setting up the Graham Farmer Foundation which supports indigenous young people to reach their potential.

Fred, not surprisingly, received an Officer of the Order of Australia in 1997 for service to the Parliament of Australia and to the aboriginal community. Prime Minister Tony Abbott also declared him Senior Australian of the Year in 2014 and he was awarded the Centenary Medal for service to parliament and education in 2001.