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Thursday, 20 June 2013
Page: 6510

Ms GILLARD (LalorPrime Minister) (14:01): I move:

That the House express its deep regret at the death on 19 June 2013 of the Honourable William Michael Hodgman AM QC, a former Minister and Member of this House for the Division of Denison from 1975 to 1987, place on record its appreciation of his long and meritorious public service, and tender its profound sympathy to his family in their bereavement.

All members will mourn the loss of one of the most colourful figures in modern Australian politics, Michael Hodgman, who passed away yesterday at the age of 74. Mr Hodgman enjoyed one of the longest and most extraordinary careers since Billy Hughes. He entered politics at just 27 years old soon after Menzies stepped down from the prime ministership, beginning a career that continued over five decades and saw him elected to three chambers in two parliaments, defeated on three occasions but restored successfully to the fray each time.

Mr Hodgman was the great-nephew, son, brother and father of politicians. The calling of public life ran in his veins, and he did it well. But politics was just one strand of a life that left one wondering how he could possibly fit it all in. Michael Hodgman was a successful barrister who took silk, a Navy reservist, an avid sportsman and punter, a gentleman larrikin with a story always on his lips and a twinkle in his eye. Michael Hodgman was a splendid old-style orator, and the Hansard bears witness to that.

He also had a fine sense of humour. When called upon to represent the notorious Chopper Read, Michael gave him a Liberal Party tie to wear in court—and, yes, maybe it was a blue one! One news headline called Michael Hodgman 'the Laughing Cavalier', and at times it almost seemed he belonged in Regency England or the days of King Charles II. But Tasmania was his stage, and he strutted that stage with real affection for the island state and for its people—so much so that, as a member in this place, he was famously called a 'Mouth from the South'.

Michael Hodgman also loved the Liberal Party, and he proclaimed that faith to the last in his farewell speech three years ago along with his faith in another institution: the monarchy. But he was a Liberal of both the large-L and small-L kind. One moment he might be supporting traditional conservative policies, but at another he could be decrying the invasion of East Timor or opposing the flooding of Lake Pedder—a true old-style Liberal.

In the end Michael Hodgman also proved to be something else: a man of courage. More than a decade ago he was given the worst possible news: that he had emphysema, a disease that no-one could cure. It is reported that on the day of his diagnosis he went to see his brother Peter and said: 'I've got bad news and good news. The bad news is I'm going to die. The good news is not yet.' Told he would last three years, he survived 14, most of that time still active in politics, where he was able to share the floor of the Tasmanian House of Assembly with his son, Will—a rare feat in any Westminster democracy.

Sadly, emphysema compounded with Alzheimer's finally accomplished its awful work, and Michael Hodgman's grand life came to an end yesterday in Hobart. On behalf of all Australians I extend my sincere condolences to his family, friends and colleagues. We pay tribute to Michael Hodgman's remarkable life and, in death, we remember him with gratitude and with respect.