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Tuesday, 2 February 2016
Page: 37


Mr TURNBULL (WentworthPrime Minister) (14:01): I move:

That the House record its deep regret at the death on, 24 December 2015, of the Honourable James Joesph (Jim) Carlton AO, former Minister and Member for Mackellar, place on record its appreciation of his long and meritorious public service, and tender its profound sympathy to his family in their bereavement.

We pay tribute today to Jim Carlton, a man who, all his life, sought to serve others. We heard in the ecumenical service this morning Christ's exhortation to do unto others as you would have them do unto you—the golden rule, a moral standard shared by people of all faiths and of none. Jim's life was governed by that commitment to others, the love of humanity. He served the public interest in many ways throughout his life, through the Liberal Party, through this parliament and through the Red Cross. He made an outstanding contribution to our party and the liberal tradition in Australia. He was a man of ideas who brought intellectual rigour to policy development and came to be respected far beyond the world of politics.

After a successful career in business, Jim rose through the ranks of the Liberal Party to become its New South Wales general secretary in 1971. It was in that capacity that I and many of my colleagues first met him, and he remained a good political mentor to me and many others throughout his life. He was elected to parliament as the member for Mackellar in 1977. He was the Minister for Health in the Fraser government and, after 1983, held several positions in the shadow ministry.

His background in management made him a passionate advocate of private enterprise and a natural leader of the 'dries', which, of course, included John Hyde and Peter Shack. As Fred Chaney said at Jim's memorial service:

The struggle between the wets and the dries in the Liberal Party was a struggle about how the economy should work, by greater or less government intervention. The great gift the Liberal Party gave to Australia during the 1970s and 80s was that struggle because it drew out the issues that were vital to Australian prosperity. What would serve Australia better, a more open economy or the maintenance of the old way of doing business?

Jim and his like-minded colleagues were on the right side of history and, indeed, ahead of the curve; and they paved the intellectual road for the reforms that came later under the Hawke, Keating and Howard governments and which have underpinned 25 years of continuous economic growth.

After retiring from politics in 1994, Jim served as the Secretary General of the Australian Red Cross until 2000. One of his signature achievements was to combine eight separate blood banks into a national organisation, the Australian Red Cross Blood Service. He was awarded the Henry Dunant Medal, the highest honour awarded by the International Red Cross. He will be remembered by all of us across the political spectrum as a thoroughly decent, warm-hearted, generous man.

Jim's family was everything to him, and he to them. This is a hard life on families, as we know, but he and his wife, Di, were a powerful team, ensuring that Jim was always there for his children, even when duty called him away. On his last night, at the head of his extended family, Jim was in great spirits, swapping news and stories, sharing food and wine. It was 23 December and the Carltons had gathered for their famous biennial Christmas celebration. Jim died the next day, Christmas Eve, but he had one last gift to others. As the Carltons gathered for lunch after his death, determined that they would celebrate his life and the joy of it in the midst of their shock and loss, the hospital rang to say that Jim's liver had been successfully transplanted into another person.

If I may borrow another line of Fred Chaney's:

Jim was a politician who mattered. It was not being there that counted. It was getting the right answer for Australia. We owe him thanks.

And so we do. To Jim's wife, Di, his children, Alex, Freia and Rob, and their families, I offer the heartfelt sympathy of this parliament and our country.

Honourable members: Hear, hear!