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Tuesday, 21 August 1984
Page: 24

Senator CHANEY (Leader of the Opposition) —On behalf of the Opposition, I support the motion of condolence moved by the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Button). The Rt Hon. Sir Phillip Reginald Lynch was a very great contributor to this Parliament, to Australia and to the Parliament of which he was part. He had many positions. Like the Leader of the Government in the Senate, I shall not seek to chronicle them all here. But Sir Phillip held many ministries from shortly after he was elected to this Parliament. He was elected in 1966 and he became a Minister in February 1968. He served in a succession of Ministries until the Liberal Government lost office in 1972. At that time, he became the Deputy Leader of the Federal Parliamentary Liberal Party, and he remained the Deputy Leader until his retirement from the Parliament. On our return to government, he was Treasurer and, subsequently, Minister for Industry and Commerce.

Many things could be said about the late Sir Phillip Lynch. One of them is that he was a self-made man. His father was a fitter and turner. Phillip Lynch worked his way through school and university and obtained a number of scholarships. His parents gave him the the enormous advantage in life of a close and loving family . I believe that Sir Phillip benefited from that for the whole of his life and that he sought to reproduce it in his own life. He had a successful university career. He became the President of the Young Liberal Movement at an early age. He taught for a short time. He went into accountancy and management consultancy and he became the National President of the Junior Chamber of Commerce. Many people felt that that period was a very great influence in his style of presentation.

The qualities that the Leader of the Government in the Senate mentioned, Sir Phillip's diligence and capacity for hard work, were very strong features of the late Sir Phillip Lynch. He had those qualities more, I think, than any other man that I have ever met. He had qualities which were, perhaps, less widely perceived. His award for bravery is something that reminds us of a different aspect of his qualities. He was instrumental in saving someone's life in the sea , and that gave him the Royal Humane Society of Australasia's certificate of merit. He was a man who had early promotion in politics. There was a ready recognition of his talents. But I think that he was most highly regarded by those who worked closely with him, in the Party, in the community and in the organisations with which he was closely associated, both as a Minister and otherwise. I think that most people who deal with bodies such as the Metal Trades Industry Association and the Housing Industry Association would find it hard to match the warmth that he received from those organisations because of his diligent application to their interests and concerns. I must say that visiting organisations of that sort with Sir Phillip was something of an eye- opener, because one could see the real appreciation of his continuous attempts to understand their concerns and problems.

All of us believe in the role of political parties in Australia. There is only one person in this Parliament, Senator Harradine, who has not come here under the umbrella of a political party. Since political parties play an important role in Australian democracy and government, it is important to note Sir Phillip 's great contribution to the Party of which he was part. I believe that within the Federal Parliamentary Party and within the party organisation he had no peer in the care that he took in ensuring that the Party's interests were maintained and preserved. He was always available to his colleagues. He devoted a great deal of time, care and attention to looking after the interests of others within the party structure. I was always at a loss to know how he managed to be so readily available to so many of us when he carried such a heavy burden in terms of the deputy leadership of the Party and senior portfolios. I will always remember him for his role in ensuring that anybody who had a difficulty or a problem had someone to discuss it with and someone to provide assistance.

Sir Phillip Lynch, like all politicians, had a brief period of difficulty. I suppose some have periods of difficulty which are not brief, but Sir Phillip certainly had a very difficult time in 1977 and that has been remembered on occasions since his death. He had difficulties with his health and there were allegations of scandal about him. I remember that time well because subsequent to the 1977 election I spent a good deal of time with him. Indeed, he gave me absolutely free access to his affairs and to his professional advisers at that time. I was very quickly able to satisfy myself that the allegations about him were utterly baseless. It was a matter of great satisfaction to me that he came through that period of difficulty and restored his political fortunes and that it simply remained something which for him was part of his experience. He never showed any signs of bitterness or of the sort of human reaction one might expect for having received less than wholehearted support during a period of difficulty and for having had very considerable criticism levelled at him in a very public way. I took it as a mark of his quality that he was able to put that behind him so completely and to bear no ill-will towards anyone for that time.

I wish also to mention Sir Phillip's attitude to his family. I mentioned that he started life with the enormous benefit of a close and loving family. In my dealings with him he frequently discussed the difficulties that there are in bringing up and maintaining a family at a distance. All of us who serve in this place have that difficulty and I acknowledge the advice which Sir Phillip Lynch gave to me about how one should best get over those difficulties. I might say that one of his pieces of advice was that I should take up sailing. He explained to me that if one is trying to bring up three sons it is important to have interests which can be shared with them. That was an interest which he shared very successfully with his sons. My sons, fortunately, gave it away. They showed the lack of interest which I felt very early. But it was typical of him that in the middle of his busy life he was able always to direct himself to personal concerns as well as to political concerns. I like to think, having, like the Leader of the Government in the Senate, been at his funeral, that it was something of a measure of his life that so many people, such a variety of people , went to his funeral and that there was such evident grief of his death and such regret at Australia's loss, because he died at a very early age. The spirit that was evident at that service was something which I think all of us who attended will always remember.

I was fortunate to attend subsequently the service closer to his home, the burial, and to go back to spend some time with his family. I was reminded again of the enormous advantages of close family bonds. It was a very inspiring gathering of Sir Phillip Lynch's close relations and friends, who talked of him with such affection and with such satisfaction with his life. Archbishop Little said of him at the more formal ceremony:

Sir Phillip was a reconciler, a peacemaker and a builder of bridges between groups and factions. He bore no grudges and remained humane and magnanimous despite the pressure of public life.

He was a man of fundamental humility, with a sense of humour which goes with genuine humility.

In the oration Father Duffy, the head of the Jesuits in Australia, said:

The partnership between Sir Phillip and Lady Lynch was an example of what fine family life could be when both parents were determined to give it their devotion and care.

Those remarks and the other many things which were said of Sir Phillip at that time all reflected very accurately what I saw as the very positive sides of his life. I deeply regret his passing and on behalf of the Opposition I extend our great sympathy to Lady Lynch and to his three sons. We are grateful for what he did for us, for our Party, for the Parliament and for Australia. For those people who knew only the public man, who were not able to be privy to the very great personal strengths of Sir Phillip, I can only say that I regard all that I have said and all that others have said about him since his death as a real measure of the man. I have very great pleasure in that sense in supporting this motion of condolence, which expresses the regard of this Parliament for a man whom I regard as a very fine Australian.