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Tuesday, 21 August 1984
Page: 32

Senator CHANEY (Leader of the Opposition) —On behalf of the Opposition and on my own behalf I would like to support the motion of condolence which has been moved by the Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senator ( Senator Grimes). With the exception that there was almost no disagreement between Mr Cairns and me I wholeheartedly endorse the comments that have been made by Senator Grimes. I think he has very accurately portrayed many of the very good qualities of the Hon. Kevin Cairns. As I have said, with that exception, I adopt the remarks that Senator Grimes has made.

The basic career of Kevin Cairns has been put before the Senate. To what has been said already I merely add that Mr Cairns showed a very great enthusiasm for Brisbane getting a new airport. I hope it was a source of some satisfaction to him that at that airport, which was so proximate to his electorate, there are so many signs of progress. Few politicians get to see concrete results for their work. I do hope that that was a source of satisfaction to him.

I think that Kevin Cairns brought an unusually high intellectual quality to this place. He was a man of very considerable ability. He applied himself with great vigour and determination and in the debates in our Party, whether on economic issues or on social issues, he was a major contributor. I know that there are members of the Senate from Queensland who wish to speak of him and who perhaps had closer dealings with him than I did, but I would like to adopt the words of Sir James Killen who was reported after Mr Cairns's death as saying:

. . . Mr Cairns had a strong sense of commitment to his faith, his principles and his friends.

He reached for excellence in his personal and social behaviour and defended brilliantly his social and political attitudes.

I think that does encapsulate a good deal about Kevin Cairns. He was a man who one felt had an overriding faith which was very important to him and which was very much a practical part in his life. In the case of two of the people that we have been talking about this afternoon, there has been what we would call an untimely death. Kevin Cairns died at the age of about 55. He leaves behind a widow and seven children and some of the children are of a young age. I think that sharpens our sense that his death was untimely.

On behalf of the Opposition I extend to his widow and children our very great thanks for his great contribution to the Liberal Party of Australia in the Federal Parliament, to the Federal Parliament itself, to his electorate and to his State. We sympathise with them for their loss and we share that sense of loss with them as best we can. On behalf of the Opposition I support the motion and extend our very great sympathy to his widow and children.