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Tuesday, 30 October 2012
Page: 12534

Mr ABBOTT (WarringahLeader of the Opposition) (14:05): I rise to join the Prime Minister in celebrating the life of Gordon Bilney, the former member for Kingston. Of particular note is his service to our country as the first ever dedicated Minister for Development Co-operation and Pacific Island Affairs. This was a good precedent, established by the Keating government, and one that might perhaps be followed in a future parliament. Gordon was, as the Prime Minister has remarked, a man with a great sense of humour and a bon vivant of some note. I understand that there are collections of his Parliament House port, bottled to celebrate the move from Old Parliament House to this place, complete with a description by Mungo MacCallum, that still grace the cellars of at least some of the present occupants of this building. If anyone has any I would be glad to share it with them!

As the Prime Minister has also mentioned, in 1993 Gordon was challenged in his seat by the then Senator Janine Haines, the popular leader of the Australian Democrats, who was trying to break into the lower house of the parliament. I understand that he was so desperate for the Democrats to come third in that contest, and so worried about the Liberal vote, that he actually voted Liberal in the 1993 election—or, at least, so he told a journalist some years ago. Well, any Labor minister who votes Liberal is obviously a pretty good character, and we would like to see more of that in the years ahead! Gordon Bilney made a fine contribution to our country. He followed his star, he was true to his principles and he was an adornment to the parliament. On behalf of the coalition I offer our condolences to his partner, Sandra, and to his daughters.