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Tuesday, 11 August 2015
Page: 4955

Senator SCULLION (Northern TerritoryMinister for Indigenous Affairs and Leader of The Nationals in the Senate) (15:48): I also rise to associate The Nationals with this condolence motion for Mr John Peter Sim CBE, former senator for Western Australia. I would like to take the opportunity to first acknowledge that it has been a pretty difficult week for parliament. Yesterday we remembered Alby Schultz and Don Randall, who sat in the other place. Today we remember John Peter Sim, senator for Western Australia from 1964 to 1981. While it has been some time since Mr Sim has been in this place, it is just as important that we reflect on his service and great contribution to the state of Western Australia and the nation.

Peter was a country boy. He was raised on a farm in Victoria. He worked on his family farms, mainly farming cattle and lamb. After the outbreak of the Second World War, he enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force and was first posted to Geelong before spending time in my electorate, the Northern Territory, for over two years. Mr Sim then served for two years in Papua New Guinea, and at the close of hostilities in 1945 he was responsible for the compound for suspected war criminals. Like all service men and women, his service to this country should not be forgotten, and I would like to pay my respects particularly for his service.

After the Second World War, Mr Sim relocated to Western Australia, where he went into partnership with his twin brother, Hugh, and bought farms across the state. Farming has been a cornerstone of Australia's development, and we in The Nationals recognise how challenging it can be to start up your own agricultural business. It must have been especially rewarding to go into partnership and share this work with your own twin brother.

Mr Sim was chosen by the parliament to represent the state of Western Australia in the Senate after the passing of Senator Seddon Vincent in 1964. Like many of my colleagues in The Nationals, he was selected because he was a voice for regional and rural areas of his state. Then, as a Liberal, Mr Sim was re-elected by the people of Western Australia in 1967 and represented his state for nearly 17 years. Mr Sim made a great contribution throughout this long service, particularly on issues of foreign affairs and defence policy, as well as matters affecting the agricultural sector, given his strong experience in this area. He was well known for being keen to get firsthand experience to inform his views on foreign policy and made multiple visits to Indonesia, Japan and Taiwan. His expertise in this area was recognised, as he was a member of the Senate standing committee on foreign affairs and defence for 10 years, as well as being chairman of the committee.

Mr Sim was not afraid to speak his mind. He made independent decisions, even if it meant crossing the floor, including when he did not agree with the policies of his own party. He made close friends, not only his party members but also those who sat opposite in the chamber. In Mr Sim's valedictory speech he said:

… Curse my enemies and bless my friends. I hope I leave this place without having to curse anyone and only to bless my friends on both sides of the chamber.

In 1982, Mr Sim was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire, and in 2006, significantly, Japan recognised his long contribution to Australia-Japan relations and assistance particularly to Japanese officers accused of war crimes in obtaining justice by awarding him the highest civilian honour, the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Star.

Mr Sim's contribution had a great influence on this place and on the lives of people across Australia. On behalf of The Nationals, I offer our condolences to Mr Sim's family and friends. They should be very proud of his achievements.

The PRESIDENT: I ask honourable senators to stand with me in silence to signify their assent to the motion.

Question agreed to, honourable senators standing in their places.