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Wednesday, 15 May 2013
Page: 3430

Mr RUDDOCK (Berowra) (18:40): I wanted to be associated with this condolence motion in relation to Ian Wilson, known as the Hon. Ian Bonython Cameron Wilson, AM. Ian was a friend. I last saw him on 5 March at his home in Burnside. Very tragically, he was dying of cancer. On 2 April, that took his life. Ian, interestingly, was first elected to this parliament in 1966. He held his seat for only three years. What I remember of him is the campaign he undertook in 1972 in the election that Gough Whitlam won and Bill McMahon lost to regain the seat of Sturt. That was a very memorable campaign. I joined the parliament in September of 1973. I went to the Old Parliament House and was assigned an office. The office was at the back of the building in what was ostensibly the new block, where you had the largest rooms. But they were shared with three others. Ian Wilson had the window, David Hamer had the middle of the room and I was left closest to the door.

What I know is that he was a great mentor, albeit having only been in the parliament for a relatively short time. He was an extraordinarily intelligent man. He had been a Rhodes scholar, a barrister and a solicitor. His achievements in the law were considerable. I remember his ministerial career, but I will not regale people about that. I also remember the extent to which he spoke—and if people take the time to go through the notes the Parliamentary Library has prepared they will find the press comments on this—about issues that he took up personally. He was very much involved in the arguments in relation to income splitting in families. All of that has budgetary implications. But he was one who was out there running the arguments very positively when it was not necessarily the most popular thing to be doing. Given some of the matters we are discussing today, I will also mention that he was involved in debate about whistleblower protection, which I thought was another fascinating area of activity in which to be involved.

He was one of those who, when I make a judgment about my own political career, I know was on the same side. The most difficult time for me was in 1988 when I crossed the floor and voted for a motion moved by Bob Hawke affirming that Australia's immigration programs should be non-discriminatory. I am not going to go into the nuances of the debate. But Steele Hall, Peter Baume, and I were very strongly of the view that, regardless of what selection criteria you might use, country of origin, race or religion should never be a determining factor. On those matters, Ian Wilson and Michael MacKellar also saw fit to make known their concerns and they were not prepared to vote on that issue—they abstained from it.

When I look at that time when I served in the parliament, I served with a person that was a friend. I am glad I had the opportunity to be at his funeral. It was, in a sense, a celebration of his life. For me and my family there were other aspects of his life that brought us together, and they are recorded in the material that is before you. In 1999 he was the foundation chairman of the May Gibbs Literature Trust. With his wife, he worked as part of a team that saved and restored May Gibbs' home, Nutcote, in Neutral Bay. Where the Ruddocks became involved was that my wife Heather was invited to serve on the committee relating to the literature trust and involved in Nutcote and its continuing use. They were able to give awards to numerous young people for writing. The literature trust was about encouraging young people who wanted time and a secure location to be able to think about the issues that they were involved in and to be able to produce their works. This, I think, was a great credit to Ian and his family and was a great opportunity for him in his post-political career to contribute positively.

I have not mentioned all the matters raised by the Prime Minister or the Leader of the Opposition. I do not want to repeat them. I just want it to be known that Ian Wilson was a friend, that he was a considerable contributor to this parliament and that he was a man of principle. To Mary, who was a great host to me on 5 March when I last saw him, to his sons Keith, Richard, James and Nigel and their families: you should be very proud—and I know you are—of what he was able to achieve. He was a great Australian.