Archiver > AUSTRALIA-OBITS > 2008-07 > 1217090324

From: "Peter McCrae" <>
Subject: [AUSTRALIA-OBITS] THOMPSON: Lindsay Hamilton Simpson Thompson 2008
Date: Sat, 26 Jul 2008 17:38:44 +0100

Lindsay Thompson
Australian state premier who twice intervened personally in school

Last Updated: 8:03PM BST 24 Jul 2008


Thompson sprinting into the Treasury Building on his final day in office
Lindsay Thompson, who has died aged 84, was an education minister in the
Victorian government of Australia when he found himself dragged into a
kidnapping inspired by the Clint Eastwood film Dirty Harry.

Such cases were occurring in Europe and the Middle East in 1972. But when
Thompson received a police call at home, claiming that six children and
their teacher had been captured at a small school 100 miles north of
Melbourne, he thought it was a hoax, and went to visit a friend.

The police had telephoned the friend's house three times before he arrived,
and on reaching their headquarters he was told that a demand for $1 million
had been found on a desk at Faraday School.

An accompanying note explained: "Delivery will be arranged. Will contact
Lindsay Thompson (Education Minister) at police headquarters at 7.25pm. Will
not waste time making threats, but any attempt to apprehend will result in
annihilation of hostages."

The call came through, and a voice spluttered: "Is Thompson there?" However,
instead of putting it straight through to Thompson, the switchboard girl
asked: "What section is he a member of?" "Forget it," said the caller, and
rang off.

The state premier, Dick Hamer, agreed to the ransom demand being met, and
Thompson had just gone to sleep at 3am when the police rang to say that a
newspaper had received a demand that he meet the kidnappers, with the money
in a suitcase, at a post office 50 miles away.

A senior police officer told him that this could lead to the victims being
freed, but Thompson became uneasy when he added that the kidnappers might
take him in exchange for their youngsters.

"If they jump out of a car and look as if they are going to grab you as well
as the case," said another officer, "try and do a sort of a back flip in
mid-air so that we have a clear go at them with our pistols." Not my usual
morning exercise, Thompson later recalled thinking.

By 6am nobody had arrived at the post office except for a man returning from
a drinking session, who wanted to know "what in the hell" Thompson was
doing. As Thompson was on his way back to Melbourne for the start of a
helicopter search, the news came through that both children and teacher had
been found and taken to a local police station.

The teacher explained that two men, plasterers named Eastwood and Boland,
had arrived at the school and had ordered everyone into their van; they were
convinced that the government would co-operate because a state election was

Inspired by several viewings of Dirty Harry, the villains first planned to
leave messages for a Methodist clergyman at a series of phone boxes, as
occurred in the film. But he slept through their call, so they decided
Thompson would bring the money. Eventually the two men left the van,
prompting the teacher and the girls to kick open a panel then run through a
forest until they came to some men out shooting rabbits.

After talking to the survivors Thompson went off to the grand final of the
Victorian football league. The teacher was awarded a George Medal, and the
men got 15 and 16 years each.

But four years later Thompson was surprised to learn that they had both
escaped from their low-security prisons. Since Eastwood had been heard
saying that he was going "to get Thompson", the minister was given a 24-hour
police guard, but he thought little about the matter over the next two
months until he was informed that a male teacher had disappeared with nine
children from school at Moorabin.

Early next morning a stolen van collided with two logging trucks, whose
drivers were missing. On his way back to the school Thompson was warned that
he might be kidnapped, a possibility that left him wondering if he might be
able to talk his captor round if they were together for a couple of days.

Such hope was hardly justified by the letter Eastwood had posted to him,
which began "GREETINGS MAGGOT" and demanded US$7 million, 100 kilos of pure
Latin American cocaine and 100 kilos of pure heroin, the release of 16
prisoners, including Boland, and a car filled with petrol.

The writer warned that if all conditions were not met his prisoners would be
shot. As Thompson and the police arrived at a local airport, they were told
that one of the truck drivers had escaped, and confirmed that the lone
kidnapper had chained the six children together and bound the nine adults to
a tree at a bush camp.

They were now all in the van, with the villain exchanging shots with police
as he tried to dodge road blocks. When Thompson finally met Eastwood, he was
wounded in the leg at a police station. "No gaol in this state will hold
me," he shouted defiantly. "I'll escape and do it again. Don't worry, next
time I'll make sure it succeeds."

On leaving with the police Thompson was touched by one of the girls calling
out: "Goodbye. But if we're kidnapped again you will come and get us, won't

Lindsay Hamilton Simpson Thompson was born on October 15 1923 at Warburton,
Victoria, and was educated at Caulfield grammar school, where he was dux and
captain of the first XI.

After joining up he served with a signals unit at Army headquarters in New
Guinea, where he used his leisure to study Latin by correspondence course
and take part in a debate on a proposed referendum. After outlining his
arguments in a letter to his mother he added to the first page: "To be read
in small doses before retiring"; years later he discovered that the censor
had added: "I concur, strictly in small doses."

With the return of peace Thompson studied History and Politics at Melbourne
University, then taught for several years before being elected as a Liberal
to the Victorian legislative council in 1955.

Never using notes while speaking, he began the longest ministerial career in
the state's history as parliamentary secretary to the Cabinet and worked his
way up the junior portfolios.

In 1970 he transferred to the lower house, where he made his greatest mark
as education minister at a time of major schools expansion. His career ended
with nine months as premier before the Liberals were heavily defeated at the
polls in 1982.

After continuing briefly as leader of the opposition, he retired to become
chairman of the Royal Melbourne cricket ground trust and president of the
Royal Life Saving Society and to write his memoirs, the first by a Victorian
premier for almost 100 years.

Lindsay Thompson, who died on July 16, was appointed CMG in 1975 and AO in
1990. He was also awarded the Douglas Wilkie Medal by the Anti-Football
League for his efforts to ban football games on Sunday.

His wife Joan survives him, together with their daughter and two sons, one
of whom is a Liberal member of the legislative assembly.

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