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Monday, 14 September 1987
Page: 34

Mr WILSON —I join in the expressions of sympathy to members of the family to the late Sir Billy Snedden. I join in paying tribute to a man who was a member of this House, a Minister in Australian governments, a Speaker of this House, a man who had a business career, who was a keen sportsman and a family man. His career was so wide ranging and diverse that it is difficult to identify any particular aspect for which he will be particularly remembered. There are those who have spoken in this debate this afternoon who have laid emphasis on one or other aspect of his career. I think the tribute that we pay to him today in identifying that whole man, that man of so many parts, needs to be stressed for it is in the many facets of his life that he will be remembered. The migrant community remember him dearly for the time that he was Minister for Immigration. Those who remember him for his leadership while he was Treasurer place emphasis on that aspect of his career. So one could go over the whole range of matters that have been dealt with here this afternoon.

I want to emphasise again, as have my colleagues the honourable member for Dundas (Mr Ruddock) and the honourable member for Fadden (Mr Jull), the part that Billy Mackie Snedden played as Leader of the Opposition. I had the unique experience of being re-elected to this Parliament in 1972. I came back having been away for three years. My colleagues had been moved from the Government benches to the Opposition benches. The Liberal Party of Australia faced great difficulty for this was its first major national defeat in 23 years. Billy Snedden was elected the Party's Leader and while he was its Leader and Leader of the Opposition he healed the Party. After tedious, careful and hard work he gave it a new sense of direction. He pulled it together. He made its members recognise that they were no longer in government, that they had to present themselves to the Australian people with a vision of the principles of the Liberal Party.

The win in 1975 owed a great deal to the period of leadership of Billy Mackie Snedden. I think that when history is written the role that he played in the successes of the Liberal Party-and there were successes during the period from 1975 to 1983-and in achieving the victory in 1975 will be seen as significant. That period will be seen as one of significant leadership by a man who understood the principles for which his Party stands and who reflected that humanity in his life, that compassion and concern for the individual rather than for institutions. Along with my colleagues I would like to remember today his contribution in the way that I have described-as helping the Liberal Party and the nation to achieve much as the result of his leadership when he was Leader of the Opposition.

I conclude by adding a few words to what I have said. Rightly this afternoon we have largely spoken about his role as a politician, but I recall that at his funeral service-and wish to place on record here today-there was a particular remembrance of his interest in the family, in families at large as well as his family. He was a family man. He was concerned not merely for his family but for the families of his colleagues as members of parliament, for the families whom he represented as member for Bruce and for the families across the Australian nation, the conditions of whom he sought to improve through the various roles he played as parliamentarian, Minister and Speaker.