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Hooper, Kevin Joseph (1928–1984)

by Manfred Cross

This entry is from the Australian Dictionary of Biography

Kevin Joseph Hooper (1928-1984), politician, was born on 9 July 1928 in Brisbane, eldest child of Queensland-born parents George Cyril Hooper, labourer, and his wife Catherine, née Moriarty. The family lived at Torwood; Kevin attended Rosalie convent, Rainworth and Milton State schools, and Marist Brothers’ College, Rosalie, to grade eight level. He worked as a shop assistant at Bayards Pty Ltd and McDonnell & East Ltd. On 19 December 1953 at St Michael’s Catholic Church, Dorrington, he married Beryl Therese Kelly, a clerk-typist. In 1956 they moved into a Queensland Housing Commission house at Inala, a poorly serviced satellite suburb between Brisbane and Ipswich with the largest accumulation of QHC housing in the State.

While employed at a dental hospital Hooper joined the Federated Miscellaneous Workers’ Union of Australia; in the early 1960s he became a State organiser. Having joined the Rosalie branch of the Australian Labor Party in 1953, he transferred to Inala, where he later became secretary. On 27 May 1972 he was elected the member for the new seat of Archerfield in the Legislative Assembly. That year he was also elected president of the Oxley federal divisional executive; several times he was campaign director for the Federal member Bill Hayden.

Archerfield was an electorate with a heavy workload and Hooper soon entrenched himself as an effective member. In 1974-77 he was secretary of the parliamentary Labor Party. Opposition spokesman for works and housing, he spoke frequently in the House, always with a colourful turn of phrase and a waspish sense of humour. Never afraid to test under parliamentary privilege allegations of maladministration, incompetence or corruption, he became known as `Buckets’. In 1975 he raised issues such as the accounting practices and performance of building societies (forcing the government to update the legislation), malpractice in the building industry, sales of flood-prone land on Russell Island, and the use of the National Party minister Russell Hinze’s office phone to promote land sales. He had a flair for publicity and he cultivated journalists.

In February 1980 Hooper was named Opposition spokesman for police and prisons. He commented on drug trafficking, prostitution and gambling, claiming that `crime of this magnitude could not operate without political and police permission at the highest level’. Responding in 1981 to a denial by Hinze, then minister for police, that there were illegal casinos at Fortitude Valley, he identified three premises and named Geraldo Bellino and Vittorio Conte as `Mafia’ figures who ran them. In 1982 he named the police commissioner Terence Lewis and the assistant-commissioner Tony Murphy as `protected criminals’. However, when he advocated reform of the ALP State branch he lost party support and Les Yewdale replaced him as police spokesman in October 1982. Hooper’s last campaign was for justice for detective senior constable Lorrelle Saunders, who spent ten months in prison as a result of a fabricated tape recording used in evidence. She was eventually declared `completely innocent’ by the minister for justice N. J. Harper on 21 January 1984.

A dedicated family man, Hooper loved books and classical music, especially opera. He died of Hodgkin’s disease on 9 March 1984 at Prince Charles Hospital, Chermside, after surgery, and was buried in Mount Gravatt cemetery. His wife, and their five sons and one daughter, survived him. He is remembered at Inala by Kev Hooper Park.

Tony Fitzgerald’s commission of inquiry into possible illegal activities and associated police misconduct was established in May 1987. It paved the way for the major reforms in Queensland to the police, public service and parliament that Hooper had championed.

Select Bibliography

  • M. B. Cribb and P. J. Boyce (eds), Politics in Queensland (1980)
  • P. Dickie, The Road to Fitzgerald (1988)
  • Parliamentary Debates (Queensland), 19 Sept 1972, p 608, 27 Mar 1984, p 2005
  • Telegraph (Brisbane), 23 Mar 1979, p 12
  • National Times, 22-28 Apr 1983, p 14
  • Sunday Mail (Brisbane), 22 Jan 1984, p 1, 11 Mar 1984, pp 2, 19
  • Courier-Mail (Brisbane), 10 Mar 1984, p 3, 5 Sept 1988, p 4
  • private information.

Citation details

Manfred Cross, 'Hooper, Kevin Joseph (1928–1984)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://labouraustralia.anu.edu.au/biography/hooper-kevin-joseph-12654/text22803, accessed 22 November 2017.

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