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Tuesday, 24 May 2011
Page: 4460

Mr COULTON (ParkesThe Nationals Chief Whip) (19:44): It is indeed a great honour for me to be speaking here tonight on this condolence motion in memory of the life of the Hon. Ralph Hunt. I will not go into the detail in the House. The Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition very eloquently went through Ralph's accomplishments, and my colleague the member for Hinkler has done a very fine job of that.

Ralph Hunt represented the seat of Gwydir, which was abolished in 2007. The former seat of Gwydir fits wholly and solely inside the seat of Parkes, so I am now representing the same area of New South Wales that Ralph did. My recollections of my earlier years are entirely of Ralph Hunt being the member for 20 years, from my time in primary school until the first time I ever voted in a federal election. I am proud to say that I voted for Ralph Hunt. Following Ralph Hunt and his successor John Anderson in this place means that sometimes I have to pinch myself to realise I am in the role that they had. My memory of Ralph Hunt from when I was growing up was of someone who was very much respected, someone who was considered a true champion for the area that he represented. To find myself in that same position is a very humbling experience.

Ralph's road to federal parliament was not dissimilar to my own. He started off his public life as a councillor of Boomi Shire Council and he was also the chairman of the Gwydir Electorate Council. I am very proud to say that I was also a shire councillor and chairman of the Gwydir Electorate Council before I came to this place. Ralph was very much loved and adored by nearly everyone he represented, except probably the owners of hire car companies. He had a fearsome reputation of being a very fast driver on what can only be described as substandard roads. I know that when Ralph retired the hire car firm in Moree heaved a sigh of relief that he would no longer be knocking their vehicles around to the extent that he had. Ralph Hunt spent a large part of his life living on the farm property Dunumbral, which is between Lightning Ridge and Collarenebri and quite an isolated place. To represent an area the size that he did pre mobile phones, pre internet and pre computers was a remarkable achievement. To be the deputy leader of a party and a cabinet minister from a property at Collarenebri was a remarkable achievement.

Ralph rose to great heights in this place, being a minister in two different governments. He was also a great champion of the Country Party and later the National Party and a very much loved member of the north-west of New South Wales. I would like to express my sincere condolences to Mim and Ralph's family, including Ralph's brother John, who now lives at Narrabri. I know him quite well. As the current member for Parkes, formerly Gwydir, I would like to pay my respects.