Maitland City councillors paid tribute to the late Milton Morris OA on Tuesday. Councillors reflected on Mr Maitland's time and had a minute of silence in his memory.
It was with sadness that I heard about the death of the much loved Milton Morris AO, who passed away on Tuesday 26 February.
The man who became known as ‘Mr Maitland’ touched the hearts of many and this affectionate nickname really is a testament to his passion and love for the city and its people.
Starting his career in Newcastle as a wool stores clerk, Milton later moved to Stuart and Lloyds Tube Mills in Mayfield as an Industrial Officer before starting his political life. As the local state member for nearly 25 years from 1956 and a government Minister for over ten of those years, he fought hard for the people of Maitland and NSW.
There would be few who have lived here for any length of time that haven't at least heard of him.
Throughout his years as Transport Minister from 1965 to 1975, he oversaw the introduction of mandatory seatbelt laws and other innovations that are common place today.
Mr Morris was a kind, generous soul who managed to enrich the lives of the people around him and that is something that will be truly missedLoretta Baker
During this same time, the state’s road toll fell from 1,300 deaths in 1965 down to slightly less than 700 in 1975, while the number of cars registered in NSW rose from 750,000 to two million.
These are impressive figures and give an insight into the politician Mr Morris was.
To this day, he remains the longest serving Transport Minister in NSW State Government history. His life in public service continued after politics though.
He would be known to many for his work as Chairman and a tireless advocate for the Hunter Valley Training Company (HVTC), a trade college that has for decades, trained up apprentices that are sought after in many local industries.
I remember hearing that his proudest achievement at HVTC was the restoration of steam locomotive 3801, which directly provided more than 330 apprenticeship positions between 1983 and 1986. Mr Morris took a large amount of pride in his service to his constituents and talked often about how much of an honour it was to represent the people of Maitland.
He was respected on all sides of the political sphere, something in itself to be commended.
Being appointed as an Officer of the Order of Australia for ‘services to youth and to the Parliament’ in 1988 was only the beginning of the recognition he received, and greatly deserved, for the work he did in the community.
He was bestowed the honour of Freeman of the City in 1994, an honour that is only awarded to those who have demonstrated the highest level of service to our community. Mr Morris was a kind, generous soul who managed to enrich the lives of the people around him and that is something that will be truly missed.
To Milton’s family and friends, I offer my condolences. I hope you take some comfort in knowing that he touched the lives of so many in such a positive way. Milton was 94 years old. Rest in Peace ‘Mr Maitland’.
Mayor Loretta Baker
It's fitting that Milton Morris be recognised before council after such a long history of service to our city.
There is no doubt that this extended way beyond his state government service, and even very close towards the end of his life, he was still seen at a number of community events and city functions.
He was still serving the community and enjoying coming in contact with members of the community.
Very few in our history have some close to this level of service.
The words that have been written go a long way to describe the gentleman. We have a lot of various sort of politicians in Australia's history and a lot of them have a successful term in office.
But what I think a real politician is about is the legacy that they leave afterwards.
I did read somewhere, in one of the papers, they talked about the number of apprentices that went through the Hunter Valley Training Centre.
But what he actually put into the community through the Hunter Valley Training Centre and apprentices that trained through there is immeasurable.
He certainly played a very big part in that. I want to congratulate the service he performed after his term in office.
I would like to honour Mr Morris as a political mentor of mine.
My great granddad held the seat for a long time and he passed the baton onto Mr Morris, and he mentored Mr Morris.
When I contemplated going into politics, I knocked on Mr Morris' door and asked him if he would kindly offer me some wisdom. He had an enormous number of pearls that he gifted me.
I would like to honour his generosity as a political person, and towards me. He didn't have to do it but he did. He would help anyone, politically, and I would like that honoured.