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Monday, 2 May 2016
Page: 3978

Mr SHORTEN (MaribyrnongLeader of the Opposition) (14:11): So often there is a melancholy symmetry to the passing of old political warriors. Having just honoured a man brought down by the Dismissal, we now offer our respects to someone whose actions helped trigger that constitutional crisis. Tom Lewis's decision to fill the casual Senate vacancy created by Lionel Murphy with the conservative mayor of Albury, Cleaver Bunton, set the Senate on a path to the gridlock and obstructionism that eventually brought down the Whitlam government. And yet, just as Malcolm Fraser's part—and, indeed, Gough's part—in the bitter conflict of those times does not define those leaders or their legacies, Tom Lewis, someone who served New South Wales as Premier and Australia as a member of the AIF, deserves a larger part in history than a cameo from 1975.

In particular, today, as the Prime Minister and also the Premier of New South Wales have noted, we pay tribute to Tom Lewis's foresight in establishing the National Parks and Wildlife Service of New South Wales. Like all great decisions, hindsight makes it appear so obvious, but, in the early 1970s, it was courageous in the Yes Minister sense. Tom Lewis had the fortitude and the integrity to take on elements in his own party and constituencies in his own support base who bitterly opposed locking up land. That is real leadership, and its legacy lives around us and has enriched the lives not just of the people of New South Wales but of all who have been drawn to visit the natural beauty of that state. I think that Tom Lewis's contribution to preserving some of our most beautiful country illustrates the truth at the heart of that ancient piece of Greek wisdom:

A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.

Labor offers its condolences to Tom Lewis's family and all who feel his loss. May he rest in peace.