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Tuesday, 27 November 2012
Page: 13617


Mr BOWEN ( McMahon Minister for Immigration and Citizenship ) ( 18:36 ): I wish to add my personal condolences to the remarks of the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition in the chamber yesterday on the death of Joe Riordan. Much has been said about Joe Riordan in recent days in this House, in the other house and in other places. It has been said that he was a loyal son of the labour movement. That is true. It has been said that he was a loyal son of the trade union movement. That is true. It has been said that he was a good family man. That is very true. It has been said that he was a good Catholic. I understand that to be true. All these things are true. But what I want to say today is that he also had a first-class intellect. He was a deep thinker, a fine communicator, an adornment to the labour movement and an adornment to this parliament.

He served in the parliament for only three years. He was elected in 1972 and defeated in 1975. In 1975 he served briefly as Minister for Housing and Construction in the Whitlam government. His work for working people, for the Labor Party and for the labour movement would have justified a much longer term in parliament, as would his work for the people of the then seat of Phillip. But it was not to be. The sands of political fortune often do not discriminate against good people and hardworking members of parliament and, when that tide turned against the Labor Party, Joe Riordan's political career came to an end. But his working life certainly did not come to an end and his commitment to Australia did not come to an end.

He went on to serve as head of the New South Wales Department of Industrial Relations, as Senior Deputy President of the Australian Workplace Relations Commission, or the Industrial Relations Commission as it was then known. He served in a number of capacities as chair and deputy chair of government boards and instrumentalities, all of which he put a great effort into and made a great contribution to. He saw none of them as a reward for effort or services rendered; he saw all of them as an opportunity to continue to contribute.

In a previous capacity before entering parliament I had the opportunity to work tangentially with Joe Riordan when he conducted a review of the hire car industry in New South Wales. I actually recommended him to the then government to conduct that review, along with the Hon. Milton Morris, a former Liberal Minister for Transport in New South Wales, because I knew he would bring rigour, intellect and thought to that process.

I did not know Joe Riordan well but I do know his family well, particularly two of his sons, Peter and Bernie, both of whom I would regard as friends. Joe Riordan instilled in both of them the Labor ethos and the commitment and service to the nation as well as of course family values and, I am sure, the faith which is shared in the family.

So I do wish, personally in this chamber, as I have done directly to Bernie, to extend my condolences to his widow, Patricia, and to their children, John, Peter, Michael, Bernie, Kathy and Maureen, who I know would be feeling the loss of their father deeply, feeling the loss of his presence in their family and his ongoing guidance. But they can also justly be proud of his contribution not only to their family but to our nation, a contribution which is not duly recognised by his three years of service, which was actually much deeper and longer lasting than that. Frankly, for many of those people who served in this parliament for a short time of three years, 40 years later it would be unusual for them to be recognised in significant speeches in this House and in the other House, but Joe Riordan's contribution in a short period in this House was enormous. His contribution throughout his life was remarkable. He will be missed but his life will also be celebrated and remembered by many.