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Tuesday, 15 June 2010
Page: 3348


Senator STEPHENS (Parliamentary Secretary for Social Inclusion and Parliamentary Secretary for the Voluntary Sector) (7:42 PM) —A few weeks ago I had the honour of presenting certificates of service to volunteers at the National Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House. I spent a very enjoyable afternoon with about 40 volunteers, some of whom had been giving of their time and expertise to the thousands of visitors to Old Parliament House for more than 15 years.

The presentation was arranged by the coordinator of volunteers, and I was introduced to the group by the Chair of the Volunteers Committee, Peter Giesinger. Peter told the group that he used to write my speeches but that he had no idea what I was going to speak about that day. He had moved roles and was now working with Skills Australia as their Assistant Director of Communications. He was in fine form and good humour and we promised to catch up some time soon to follow up the ideas that he had about volunteering.

It was a tremendous shock to hear of his death just a week later, on 27 May. Though I knew very little about Peter, I made it my business to find out some more. I discovered that, before moving to Canberra, he had worked for a short time with the NSW Department of Community Services, having returned from the UK where he had worked in public relations for the South Bedfordshire District Council. All his professional life was bound up in his interest in strategic communications, marketing and media. He was very professional and brought a great love and knowledge of the English language to his work. He was a respected and valued colleague in his workplace as well as in his previous role as speechwriter in the Communications Group in the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations. Peter had a great sense of fun and threw himself into everything he did. The development of the Museum of Australian Democracy was something he invested a lot of time in—supporting the volunteers there, who he regarded as good friends.

To Peter’s mother, Maria Sattler, and his brothers, Friedrich and Waltraud, and their families, Peter was a good man, and I offer my sincere condolences. Peter’s friends and work colleagues in Skills Australia and in the department have lost a good friend too. And, to the volunteers and staff at the Museum of Australian Democracy, let’s toast a good man lost, with a glass of red and a hearty cheer. Rest in peace, Peter.