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Thursday, 25 August 1994
Page: 436


Senator WATSON (7.20 p.m.) —Yesterday, by leave of the Senate, I had the privilege of attending the Launceston memorial service of a former Tasmanian parliamentarian, Mr Max Bushby OBE. Max passed away earlier this week after an 18-month battle with cancer. Max Bushby was one of Launceston's leading citizens, and he leaves behind him an enormous store of goodwill amongst a wide range of people who worked with him or benefited from his efforts.

  Amongst his many attributes, Max was above all a gentle and devout man. He was an active and sincere Christian, and he lived his life accordingly. He spent much of his life working for those around him, especially those who were in need of special help. He was also widely respected for his stance on such issues as communism and on social and moral issues. His kindness and generosity began with his family—his wife and five children—and extended to all Tasmanians through his 25 years of service in the Tasmanian House of Assembly.

  Max Bushby was educated at East Launceston Primary School and later at Scotch College, where he provided leadership in the principal sporting teams and became captain of the school. On leaving secondary school, Max joined his family real estate business and maintained an interest in that firm at various levels throughout his life. He was a past president of the northern branch of the Real Estate Institute and, for many years, was a licensed valuer. He spent time in Korea as a journalist during the invasion from the north. This was where he became concerned about the threats of communism and the wider issues of the Cold War.

  Following an unsuccessful attempt to unseat the popular Lance Barnard from the federal seat of Bass in 1958, Max Bushby turned to state politics. He was elected to the Tasmanian parliament for the seat of Bass in 1961. He continued to represent the people of Launceston and north-east Tasmania until 1986. It is a tribute that a former Deputy Prime Minister of Australia, Lance Barnard, no longer a young man, was at the service paying tribute with many colleagues from all political parties.

  Max was chairman of committees and deputy speaker of the Bethune government during the 1969-72 era. He was Speaker of the House during the first Gray Liberal government from 1982 to 1986. He also served periods as shadow minister in a number of portfolios, including health, housing and construction, when in opposition. During his long parliamentary career, he sat with more than 100 different members of the 35-seat chamber. Originally it was somewhat smaller than that.

  Max was also devoted to assisting his party colleagues at election times for both state and federal elections. The former member for Bass, Warwick Smith, remembers that Max made keen and wise contributions to all of his campaigns between 1984 and 1993. In particular, Warwick, as a young candidate for the federal parliament in 1984, remembers Max Bushby providing him with his election signs for his first campaign.

This was the sort of generous-natured man Max Bushby was—whether it was among his young parliamentary colleagues or aspirants, his church colleagues, or those in the community who needed special help.

  Max Bushby was awarded his OBE in the 1987 New Year's honours list for services to the parliament and to the community. His range of community service involvement was most notable. In particular, it included service through organisations such as the St Giles Society for crippled children, the Retarded Children's Welfare Association, Jaycees, his old Scotch College Association, the Northern Development League, the St Michael's Association and, more recently, Probus. He was also a member of the Royal Commonwealth Society. Max's main area of community work was with the Launceston City Mission. Earlier this year, he was honoured with life membership of the mission. This recognised his 36 years of service to the mission as a board member, most of which he served as chairman.

  Also outstanding was the contribution he made to the Bible Society. He served with great distinction over many decades and was the head of that organisation in Australia for a number of terms. Max Bushby's life was devoted to his church and religious beliefs. He was a lay preacher from 1950 and had a close involvement with the establishment and on-going support of the WEC Missionary Training College at St Leonards. At the time of his death, he was a member of its advisory council.

  The Bushby family is a very united one and I will share with the Senate two glimpses of that sort of unity. When his children were young, the whole family would regularly go to the airport to meet their father when he arrived home on the early morning flight. A tribute from one of his sons which appeared in the Launceston Examiner several days ago stated, `A better father a son could never have.'

  Max Bushby is survived by his wife, Elaine; three sons, Peter, Michael and David; daughters Wendy and Helen; and six grandchildren. To them and to Max's other relatives—I mention especially his brother Russell and sister-in-law Betty, with whom he was very close—I extend my sincere and deep condolences. Tasmania has lost a wise and generous statesman. However, on the positive side, my fellow Tasmanians can certainly claim to be richer for Max's life and work. I thank the Senate.