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Monday, 19 March 2012
Page: 2138


Senator BOB BROWN (TasmaniaLeader of the Australian Greens) (16:06): I also wish to endorse the condolences of this whole chamber to Gough Whitlam, his four children and the extended family and friends of Margaret Whitlam from the Senate. I did but meet Margaret Whitlam a couple of times in my life, and they were both pleasant. I recognised a formidable, intelligent but engaging character. My experience was the same as that of Senator Payne's: she was very friendly and a person who was able to engage without the restriction of a political label, as you sometimes run into. Following on from Senator Faulkner's very fitting eulogy to this woman, Margaret Whitlam, who he has aptly described as a great Australian, and the comments about the time Gough was the representative on UNESCO for the Australian people and consequently the work done by Margaret Elaine Whitlam and Gough Whitlam for World Heritage sites, it needs to be acknowledged to you that in the wake of the destruction of Lake Pedder it was Gough Whitlam's government which saw to it that Australia was an early signatory to the World Heritage Convention—which has since led to the proclamation of such wonderful attributes in this country as the Great Barrier Reef, Kakadu, Ningaloo, the Opera House and, in Tasmania, the very salient Franklin River and the south-west wilderness area. I can only but acknowledge the role of both the Whitlams in the saving of this very special place on the face of the planet, as far as we Tasmanian environmentalists are concerned.

I cannot do anything that would add to that wonderful eulogy from Senator Faulkner. Near the end he described Margaret Whitlam as a passionate, irreverent and generous Australian. I think that sums her up. I might add to that the words of Germaine Greer, whose writing—not least, The Female Eunuch—influenced Margaret Whitlam and through her the Whitlam government. This is one of the great modernising governments in Australian history. Germaine Greer described Margaret Whitlam as: 'an oasis of light, peace and common sense.' That indeed she was. A great Australian. Our condolences to Gough and the Whitlam family. Australia has lost a sterling citizen.

The PRESIDENT: I ask that honourable senators present stand in silence as a mark of respect to the deceased.

Honourable senators having stood in their places—

The PRESIDENT: I thank honourable senators.