Captain David John Hamer

David John Hamer was born in Melbourne on 5 September 1923 and educated at Geelong Grammar School. He joined the RAN College in 1937 and graduated in 1940 with his colours for rugby and the prizes for mathematics and navigation. He also came first in his class for English and history and was awarded the Grand Aggregate Prize for academic studies and awarded maximum time (four months) for early promotion to Lieutenant. He was promoted to Midshipman in January 1941 and posted to the heavy cruiser HMAS Canberra which served in the Indian Ocean. In November 1941 he joined the destroyer HMAS Napier and served in her in the Mediterranean.

In February 1942 he was appointed to the battleship HMS Revenge operating in the Indian Ocean. Hamer was sent to England to undertake further training courses in May 1942 and was promoted to Sub Lieutenant in August 1942. He excelled on these courses gaining five first class certificates for gunnery, torpedoes, navigation, signals and seamanship. He was awarded the Beaufort and Wharton Prize for navigation and pilotage and the Ian Macdonald Memorial Prize for the signals course. In January 1943 he was appointed to the destroyer HMAS Norman and again served in the Indian Ocean as part of the British Eastern Fleet. He was promoted to Lieutenant in August 1943 and in May 1944 was posted to the heavy cruiser HMAS Australia.

He served onboard Australia as the Air Defence Officer, during her operations in the Philippines at Leyte Gulf in October 1944 and at Lingayen Gulf in January 1945, where he directed the ships anti-aircraft guns against frequent and multiple enemy air attacks. Australia was subjected to repeated suicide aircraft (kamikaze) attacks and despite putting up a heavy barrage of anti-aircraft fire she was hit four times; losing three officers and 41 ratings killed and one officer and 68 ratings wounded. Hamer was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross "for gallantry, skill and devotion to duty while serving in HMAS Australia in the successful assault operations in the Lingayen Gulf, Luzon Island". There is some suggestion in naval circles that Hamer was originally considered for the award of the Victoria Cross for his gallantry at Lingayen Gulf.

Lieutenant DJ Hamer, RAN was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for gallantry, skill and devotion to duty while serving in HMAS Australia during the successful assault operations in the Lingayen Gulf, Luzon Island.
Lieutenant DJ Hamer, RAN was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for gallantry, skill and devotion to duty while serving in HMAS Australia during the successful assault operations in the Lingayen Gulf, Luzon Island.

In August 1945, Lieutenant Hamer was sent to England to undertake the long gunnery course at HMS Excellent and also saw service at the Royal Naval Air Station (HMS Goldcrest) in Wales during September 1945-January 1946. Upon return to Australia in June 1947 he was posted as Flotilla Gunnery Officer and served in the destroyers HMAS Bataan and HMAS Warramunga. In September 1948 he returned to England to complete the Advance Gunnery Course at HMS Excellent. He returned to Australia in September 1949 and was sent as an instructor to the gunnery school at HMAS Cerberus where he served until December 1950. In January 1951 he was posted to the destroyer HMAS Tobruk and served in her until March 1952 as the Flotilla Gunnery Officer. In April 1952 he was posted to Navy Office, in Melbourne, and served as the Flag Lieutenant Commander to the Naval Board until January 1954. Hamer was promoted to Lieutenant Commander in August 1951.

Lieutenant Commander Hamer joined the cruiser Australia in early 1954 as the Fleet Gunnery Officer and transferred to the aircraft carrier HMAS Sydney in June 1954, in the same role, after Australia was decommissioned. In March 1956 Hamer attended the Royal Navy staff course and was promoted to Commander in June 1956. Upon successful completion of the staff course he was posted on a two year exchange to the Joint Service Amphibious Centre at Poole in southern England as the Senior Naval Instructor. Upon return to Australia in early 1959 he served at Navy Office in Canberra before being appointed as the Operations Officer to the Flag Officer Commanding the Australian Fleet (serving in the aircraft carrier HMAS Melbourne) in early 1960.

In early 1962 Hamer was promoted to Acting Captain and appointed as the Director of Naval Intelligence in Navy Office and was also an honorary Aide-de-camp to the Governor-General. He was confirmed in the rank of Captain in June 1962. On 2 December 1963, Captain Hamer was posted as the Commanding Officer of the destroyer HMAS Vampire and also commanded the Australian Destroyer Squadron during 1963-65. In July 1965 he took up his final appointment in the RAN as the Director of Project Coordination in Navy Office. Captain David Hamer resigned from the Navy on 1 February 1968 in order to pursue a career in politics.

In 1969, David Hamer was elected to the Australian House of Representatives as the Liberal member for Isaacs (Victoria). He was narrowly defeated by the Labor candidate, Gareth Clayton, in 1974 and became a political columnist for The Age newspaper and undertook a Master of Arts at Monash University in Constitutional Law, studying the historical role of the Australian Senate. He was re-elected to Isaacs in 1975 but contested the Senate in 1977. He was successful, and remained a Liberal senator for Victoria until his retirement in 1990. A strong supporter of improving the function of the Senate as a house of review, he was Chairman of Committees as well as Deputy President of the Senate (despite being a member of the Opposition) under the Hawke and Keating Labor governments from 1983-1990.

Hamer was also interested in promoting the arts in Australia, helping establish the Arts Council of Victoria, and serving as President of the Arts Council of Australia and of the Australian Film Institute. He was a keen supporter of the establishment of the National Film and Sound Archive as a way to collect and make accessible Australia's rich audio-visual history. He was also a keen researcher and writer and his publications include 'The Australian Senate 1901-1918, An Appraisal' (1976); 'Can Responsible Government Survive in Australia?' (1994 and 2004); and 'Bombers versus Battleships - The Struggle between Ships and Aircraft for Control of the Surface of the Sea' (1998).

David Hamer died of leukemia on 14 January 2002. Hamer was also awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Medal in 1977 and was posthumously made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in June 2002 "for service to the Parliament of Australia, to the recording of Australian military and political history as a researcher and writer, and to the community through arts organisations".

Hamer had two brothers - Sir Rupert Hamer who was the Premier of Victoria 1972-81; and Alan who was a Rhodes Scholar, chemist and businessman. His sister Alison Patrick (née Hamer) was a historian at Melbourne University. In 2004 the Hamer Family Fund was set up in honour of all four siblings and its aims include projects that advance the arts, the environment and good government in Australia.