ARTHUR Gietzelt, a controversial politician who did much to improve amenities in Sutherland Shire, died on Sunday.
He was 93.
Mr Gietzelt served on Sutherland Shire Council for 15 years, including a record nine as president (now known as mayor).
He moved to the federal Senate, where he spent 18 years, including two terms as minister for veterans affairs in Bob Hawke’s Labor government.
Mr Gietzelt had just begun his role in the Senate, and remained council president, when he was the target of a bombing in 1971.
He and his wife Dawn escaped injury when 17 sticks of gelignite were detonated on the front porch of their home in Kitchener Street, Caringbah, adjoining the bedroom where they slept.
Mr Gietzelt was a leader of Labor’s left-wing faction from the 1960s.
A newspaper report claimed three years ago that Australian Security and Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) files showed he was regarded ‘‘an active communist’’ from the 1940s.
Mr Gietzelt denied being a member of the Communist Party of Australia.
Hazel Wilson, a left-wing faction ally who served on the council for 14 years, said yesterday this depiction of him was ‘‘inaccurate and dishonest’’.
‘‘Arthur was inspirational to me,’’ she said.
‘‘He was the shire’s longest serving president and he did a lot of extremely challenging things.
‘‘Arthur was responsible for foreshore environmental measures which give residents today greater access to the shire’s waterways.
‘‘He negotiated agreements from land owners along the waterways to reclaim very small parts of their land.
‘‘Arthur also established important public services, such as the library, baby health centres and swimming pools.
‘‘He also stopped the federal government putting an airport at Towra Point.
‘‘After getting scientific data on noise levels, he went around shopping centres with a megaphone showing people what was in store for them.’’
Ms Wilson said her father, a health and building inspector on the council for 35 years, did not share Mr Gietzelt’s political views, but said he was ‘‘the most astute and innovative of all councillors and with the highest integrity’’.
Mr Gietzelt is survived by his wife and three children.
Funeral arrangements will be advised here later.
STILL A MYSTERY
Flashback: The Leader report on the bombing.
IT WAS suspected the 1971 bomb attack was due to Mr Gietzelt’s leading role in the council imposing the first anti-apartheid ban in Australia against a South African team competing in a surf competition at Cronulla.
However, the mystery was never solved because charges against a Taren Point builder, Oscar Smith, who has since died, were dropped before he came to trial.
Mr Gietzelt told the Leader in 2011 he believed the attack was motivated by the sporting ban as well as the builder’s anger at the council after he was forced to demolish a block of flats at Cronulla because they did not comply with requirements.
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