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Tuesday, 25 June 2013
Page: 7046

Mr GRIFFIN (Bruce) (16:15): I rise today in the House to acknowledge the passing of a good friend and Labor stalwart. Bill Lyster was a man whom I have known since my early 20s and whom I am pleased to have been able to call a mentor and a friend over many years. Bill and his wife, Maureen—who was a former health minister in the Victorian government under Joan Kirner—were people who, in my early formative years in politics, I often sought advice and counsel from, and I learned an awful lot from them.

Bill himself was a Labor man of the old school. He was a union man of great pride, a man who always looked for solutions to problems and always did what he could to try and be part of the answer to the questions that we faced. He is also a man that many people in the labour movement these days would not know, but in his time—in the seventies and eighties—he played a very central role in the Victorian branch of the Labor Party. He was a key member of the Independents group within the Victorian branch, and he was a close confidant of the late Senator John Button and the late Jim Kennan. He was a close friend of John Cain and former Senator Barney Cooney, amongst others. In the Independents, he played a very constructive role with respect to ensuring that the Victorian Labor Party came back from what it once was to become an effective electoral force—an electoral force that it has maintained to this day.

The advice that Bill gave me in my earlier years, as I have said, was integral to my being able to have what I think has been a relatively successful career in politics, and he certainly helped me to understand my craft and the need to see what you can do to help people. He leaves behind Maureen, his wife of many years, and he was only 70 when he passed away. That has been a source of great sadness to her and to the rest of his family, particularly to their son Simon. Their other son, Ben, unfortunately, passed away some years ago, but I know from my early years with him that he was a devoted father to both of them.

Bill, I will miss you, mate. You were all that was best about the labour movement. You always gave me the advice I needed, not necessarily the advice I wanted. You always told me when you thought I had been stupid, and we both know that, more than once, that was the case. You were a sort of man I call a comrade, and I was a very proud comrade and a very proud friend. I know that to Maureen this has been a great loss—to you, comrade, I say, remember he was a great man, a great Australian and someone that you can be very proud of, as I know you are, and I know you will always be.