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Tuesday, 17 March 1987
Page: 885


Mr FIFE —I wish to associate myself with this condolence motion, which has been moved by the Prime Minister (Mr Hawke) and seconded by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Howard). I had the privilege of knowing Hugh Roberton for the whole period that I have been in public life. I first met him in 1953 during the State election campaign in New South Wales when we both attended a meeting of the Farmers and Settlers Association, which was the forerunner of the current New South Wales Farmers Association. We were both members of that organisation. I remember that meeting very vividly because I was fighting a campaign that I knew I could not win. The encouragement-and, might I add, the advice-given to me on that occasion by Hugh Roberton has remained with me for all the intervening years.

As well as being personally associated with the condolence motion, and associating my wife and family who also knew Hugh Roberton, I wish to associate the residents of the electorate of Hume, and in particular the citizens of the city of Wagga Wagga, because although Hugh Roberton represented the Riverina division he was well known throughout the length and breadth of southern New South Wales. Indeed, he was a friend to everyone who knew him. He was the kind of parliamentarian who, once an election was over, did not try to assess how his constituents voted. He treated all men and women, regardless of their place in life, occupation, faith or politics, in the same way. On behalf of those people whom I represent in this Parliament I extend to his wife, Eileen, and his daughter, Janet, our deepest sympathy.

I would like to add that Hugh Roberton was uncompromising when he defended our democratic system. Those who knew him would often find it difficult to understand precisely what he was saying when he was defending the democratic system. Being a Scot, he did not lose his accent throughout the whole of his life. He became very emotional when he was talking about the democratic system. He was forthright in debate but he was also very gentle when he approached other people. He was a man of honour. Truthfulness and service to his fellow man were his guiding principles. Those who read the articles under the pen name of Peter Snodgrass would also remember the name of Bill Smith, his driver. Perhaps many people thought that that also was a pen name. Members of this House will be interested to know that Bill Smith was his ministerial driver and is a senior driver today in the car pool in Sydney. He wishes also to extend to Mrs Roberton and Mr Roberton's daughter his deepest sympathy.

Question resolved in the affirmative, honourable members standing in their places.