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Monday, 25 June 2018
Page: 6156

Mr TURNBULL (WentworthPrime Minister) (14:00): I refer to the death of the Hon. Joseph Max Berinson and I move:

That the House record its deep regret at the death, on 2 June 2018, of the Honourable Joseph Max Berinson, a former Member and Minister of this House for the Division of Perth from 1969 to 1975, place on record its appreciation of his public service, and tender its profound sympathy to his family in their bereavement.

Two of Joe's grandsons Shua and Eli Solomon are in the gallery today, and we welcome them. Rabbi Shua is a rabbi from the Mizrachi Synagogue in my electorate of Wentworth. He tells of a man devoted to his family, a man of integrity and of vision. Rabbi Shua remembered once asking Joe why he had decided to go into politics. Joe joked that everyone is entitled to one mistake in their life. But he also said that his best accomplishments were not made on the public stage but in the quieter moments, in the small pieces of legislation that made a big difference to people's lives. That's how we remember Joe today.

He was one of Gough Whitlam's 1969ers. Before making his way across the Nullarbor to Canberra, Joe had worked as a pharmacist and later studied law. He became highly rated for his hard work and intellect by his colleagues and, more significantly, by his exacting leader. Gough Whitlam's clashes with his caucus and colleagues were legendary. Few could take on the great man and not end up bruised. Joe Berinson was an exception. On at least one occasion, Joe gave Whitlam an almighty blast. He got away with it, according to one of his colleagues who said: 'Gough is something of an intellectual snob. He respects other intellectuals, and Joe has that respect.'

In the final months of the Whitlam government, Joe became the Minister for the Environment. It was enough time to ensure that Kakadu was declared a national park, preserving that magnificent part of Australia for future generations. Although he lost his seat at the election, the experience had given him a taste for political life. In 1980, Joe was elected to the Western Australian Legislative Council and over 10 years served three premiers as Attorney-General. It was in that capacity I first met Joe. In the turbulent aftermath of WA Inc., Joe's careful and considered calm certainly stood out.

Throughout his public life, Joe Berinson was proud of his faith. When he died, his family included a verse from the Book of Micah in the note of condolence: 'What is good and what does the Lord require of you except to be just and to love and to diligently practice kindness and to walk humbly with your God.' It so happens that this verse will be read in synagogues all over the world, this Sabbath. For the Berinson family it sums up Joe. Their hearts will be filled with love and sorrow but also great pride when they hear it on Saturday. To Joe's beloved wife, Jeanette, his four children, 15 grandchildren and his extended family, I offer the heartfelt sympathy of the parliament and the nation. Yehi Zichro Baruch; may his memory be a blessing.