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Tuesday, 22 May 2012
Page: 5119

Mr CREAN (HothamMinister for Regional Australia, Regional Development and Local Government and Minister for the Arts) (16:03): Other commitments prevented me speaking in the formal condolences to Lionel Bowen, so I am taking this opportunity to pay my respects to the late Lionel Bowen who passed away on 1 April this year aged 89. Lionel's passing sees the passing of another great Labor legend, but it was also the passing of one of the nation's favourite sons, a loyal and dedicated servant.

I knew Lionel over many years and, whilst I never served with him in this parliament because I entered in 1990 as he was leaving, my father served with him and I had frequent and active engagement with Lionel through those family connections as well as my days in the trade union movement. He was a humble yet forceful and passionate advocate. He was admired for his great integrity, humility, loyalty and commitment.

Circumstances created the qualities of individuals in those early years and Lionel grew up in the inner Sydney suburbs and during the Depression. His deserted mother was left to raise her extended family, forcing Lionel to leave school at 14. But he attended night school and then graduated from Sydney university in law. So those tough circumstances taught him the importance of dedication and persistence—qualities that became part of his trademark character throughout his life.

Despite studying law, politics was his calling. Lionel served across all three levels of government in a period spanning 42 years: in the Randwick council from 1948, including two terms as mayor; in the marginal seat of Randwick in the New South Wales parliament from 1962 to 1969; and in the federal seat of Kingsford Smith from 1969 to 1990. He served under two prime ministers, Gough Whitlam and Bob Hawke, and was Bob Hawke's Deputy Prime Minister. But the portfolios he held were Postmaster-General, Minister for Manufacturing Industry, Minister for Trade and Attorney-General.

On his retirement, Lionel became chair of the National Gallery of Australia and, as Minister for the Arts, I also pay tribute to him in that respect. He was passionate on the importance of galleries and museums and their collections in telling Australia's story, and he saw the arts as a vehicle for expression and pride.

He was made a companion of the Order of Australia in recognition of his service to community. He was a lover of his family. He had a love of racing. But, most of all, he had a love of country. Lionel Bowen made an enduring contribution to the Australian community, and I offer my sincerest condolences to his wife, Claire, and all of their children and the extended Bowen family.