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Tuesday, 21 August 1984
Page: 31


Senator GRIMES (Minister for Social Security) —by leave-I move:

That the Senate expresses its deep regret at the death on 6 July 1984 of the Hon. Kevin Michael Kiernan Cairns, a former Minister of the Crown and member of the House of Representatives for the division of Lilley, Queensland, from 1963 to 1972 and 1974 to 1980 and places on record its appreciation of his long and meritorious public service and tenders its profound sympathy to his widow and family on their bereavement.

The late Kevin Cairns was born in Sydney on 15 May 1929. He was a long standing member of the Liberal Party of Australia and, before his election to the House of Representatives for the division of Lilley, he was an economic consultant, a university lecturer and a dental surgeon. He was elected for the seat of Lilley in 1963 and held that seat until 1972. There was then a break and he again held the seat from 1974 until the election of 1980. In 1971 he was made Minister for Housing in the McMahon Government. He was also an active member of various committees in the House of Representatives: The House of Representatives Standing Committee on Expenditure, the House of Representatives Standing Orders Committee, the Joint Public Accounts Committee and the Joint Committee for the New and Permanent Parliament House. He was also a member of the parliamentary delegation to Europe in June 1975.

I suppose, from a philosophical or ideological point of view, there would be few people in this Parliament in the time that I have been here who were further apart from me in my views than Kevin Cairns. Yet, in the time that I was in Parliament with him, I liked him. I talked with him frequently. I suppose one of the best things we can say about our colleagues on either side of this place is what I say about Kevin Cairns and that is that I was perfectly happy to find myself sitting next to him on a plane wherever it was going in this country. He was an intelligent and thoughtful man. He was a voracious reader, obviously, as anyone who entered into conversation with him would know. He has very strong views and he expressed those views with great strength and determination. I understand, from colleagues opposite, that he had no hesitation in expressing those views inside the party room and out, no matter who was there or whose views he was going against.

Like many people in this place I frequently found myself in conversation with Kevin Cairns after some controversial matter had come up or after either he or I had made some controversial statement in the Parliament or even in committees at times. It seemed to me that he kept a tab on everything that was going on in this place. He even kept a tab on what was happening in Senate committees at times. He certainly had no hesitation in taking up points and arguing those points vigorously with whoever he came across and wherever he found himself. It is for this reason that I have very fond memories of Kevin Cairns although, as I have said, on most issues I suppose we differed and differed very strongly. But one of the pleasant features of being a member of this Parliament and a member of this Senate is that with people such as Kevin Cairns one can have such differing views and yet, at the same time, have friendships of the type we had where we could discuss things with the vigour with which he always discussed them and yet at the same time finish those discussions perhaps still differing but still respecting one another's views. I think his contribution to this Parliament was considerable. I am sure it was appreciated by his colleagues on the opposite side and by people on this side of the House. I know that the Senate will join with me in conveying to his widow and family our sincere sympathy and our condolences.