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Tuesday, 15 March 2005
Page: 102

Senator IAN MACDONALD (Minister for Fisheries, Forestry and Conservation) (7:33 PM) —Genuine, able and without a hint of hypocrisy or humbug: that describes John Tierney. Many of the speakers today have mentioned John’s great contribution to policy and certainly in both the education and the communications fields John will leave a legacy to our country through his involvement in this parliament. John was always a very committed advocate for the causes in which he believed. He travelled very widely throughout our country. He attended and chaired many parliamentary committees in all parts of Australia, and certainly up my way in the north of the country anyone who ever appeared before any committee or grouping that John Tierney was in charge of or at always felt that they had been treated with courtesy and respect and that they had had the opportunity of getting their view across.

John, as I recall, was a member of our regional task force, which we worked very hard on before the 1996 election. John was one of those who travelled the length and breadth of country Australia with me and a group of others to highlight just how much the Liberal Party had to offer those people in areas of the country which had not previously supported us. John has always been a very compassionate person and legislator. He has always shown a real concern and commitment for those less fortunate than us within our country. I am very proud that John Tierney typifies one of those people who I like to think are real Liberals. He promotes excellence, he promotes the individual, he encourages hard work and enterprise, and at the same time he has compassion, understanding and concern for—and he works for—the disadvantaged in our society.

My association with John on a more personal note, apart from those fabulously exciting Wednesday night dinners at that very exclusive and expensive dining landmark in Canberra called Lee’s Inn Chinese Restaurant, related to our joint interest in Newcastle and our joint interest in the advancement of the Liberal Party outside the capital. John’s commitment to Newcastle—he keeps telling me how to pronounce ‘Newcastle’, but I keep forgetting—his home town, was a passionate commitment. He genuinely believed in it and the people of that area knew that he genuinely believed in it. My association with the area was that, at that particular time in the cycle, I happened to be the minister with $20 million to spend in Newcastle. It was a program that, I suspect—I have never bothered to inquire too deeply into this—was created and urged by Senator John Tierney, the Newcastle senator, and which actually came to be because of him.

Senator Tierney —An excellent program.

Senator IAN MACDONALD —It certainly was an excellent program. Unfortunately, I have not had time to do as much research into my speech as I would have liked to do. But off the top of my head, there was the marina, the extensions to the airport, the business and the transport hub, the Stuart pianos, the wine pipeline—which was really a Tierney special, but the New South Wales government took all the credit and did not even invite us to the opening as I recall, even though it was our money that they used—the fire wagon—

Senator Tierney —Varley fire wagon.

Senator IAN MACDONALD —That is right, the Varley fire wagon. There were a number of other projects. I am not sure what history will say, but most of those projects should be named after Tierney. It should be the Tierney Newcastle Airport or the Tierney Marina or something like that, because quite frankly—although this will never really be known—it was John Tierney’s advocacy that achieved great things for those areas. I remember when the smelting works decided to close in Newcastle. I think we all as a nation were a bit concerned about that, but I remember John Tierney saying to me, ‘This is the best thing that has ever happened to Newcastle.’ I thought, ‘That’s a bit strange coming from someone who lives in the town.’ At the time, the local papers and everyone else were saying it would be death of Newcastle, but John said it was the best thing that had ever happened to Newcastle. I think history has proved Senator Tierney correct, in that the city, with his help and leadership, has gone on to bigger and better things and has really become a very significant and desirable part of our country. We cannot give Tierney all of the credit for that, but he certainly played a part in really moving Newcastle forward.

The other particular personal goal—passion almost—that Senator Tierney and I both had in our different states was to give the people of our states, and indeed Australia, outside the capital cities the choice of a different political party—a political party that offered, I think uniquely, the sort of philosophy that I know Senator Tierney himself has. Both of us were always very committed ‘coalitionists’—though that is not the word I am trying to think of. We both worked cooperatively with our coalition colleagues, in my case in Queensland and in Senator Tierney’s case in New South Wales, and although we understood them, liked them, got on well with them and supported them on many occasions, we did believe that the people of our respective states deserved the choice of a political party that they could follow at the election. That is one reason, amongst many others, why I am very sad to see John Tierney leaving us now.

I had not been quite aware of his long history in the party, but I am sure that history will continue. I know John will always be a great supporter of the principles, philosophy and government goals of the Liberal Party of Australia. John’s wife, Pam, was always a very significant part of the Tierney team—a great supporter of John himself but always a great motivator and doer in her own right. They formed a great team in the past, and I am sure they will do that in the future. My wife, Lesley, joins me in wishing John and Pam all the very best for the future. I am sure our paths will continue to cross, and I certainly look forward to that. All the best to Pam and you for the future, John.