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Tuesday, 7 March 2000
Page: 14099

Mr MURPHY (10:55 PM) —Tonight is the first opportunity I have had to bring to the notice of the House the Australia Day honour of an Order of Australia medal bestowed on the highly respected former New South Wales state member for Drummoyne and federal member for Lowe, Mr Michael Maher. If ever an award for selfless service to the community by a parliamentarian was deserved, this is it. Michael Maher was elected to the New South Wales Legislative Assembly for Drummoyne in 1973, where he became one of the most popular local state members of all time. He resigned from the New South Wales parliament in 1982 to contest the by-election in the federal seat of Lowe following the retirement of the former Liberal Prime Minister Sir William McMahon. Labor had never held Lowe. Michael Maher captured the seat in the historic by-election in 1982. This victory signalled the return of Labor to power in the 1983 federal election under Bob Hawke. Michael Maher had the distinction of successfully contesting Lowe in three consecutive years, in 1982, 1983 and 1984.

In his service in the New South Wales parliament from 1973 to 1982 and in federal parliament between 1982 and 1987, Mr Maher distinguished himself as the people's politician. Whether dealing with a serious matter of state or attending to a neighbourhood dispute over a fence, Mr Maher's application to the task was constant. Over the years, I have witnessed numerous tributes paid to Mr Maher, from prime ministers to the ordinary person in the street. Perhaps the one that encapsulates the many qualities of this great parliamentarian is this. On one occasion, a lady said to me that, whenever she spoke with Michael Maher, he made her feel like she was the only person in the world that mattered. As a person who championed many causes, and in particular stood up for the plight of those forced to live in caravan parks, I am sure that if Michael Maher was standing in this House right now he would be expressing his horror that the GST will fall on those paying permanent caravan rents around Australia after 1 July of this year. On behalf of his family and his many, many friends, I salute Michael Maher OAM—truly a great Australian.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

House adjourned at 10.57 p.m.