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Tuesday, 22 May 2001
Page: 26679


Mr GRIFFIN (3:05 PM) —I would like to start by offering my condolences to Carol and other members of Peter's family. It is a particularly sad occasion to be here once again on a condolence motion for a colleague with whom I spent a good deal of time over the last eight years that I have been here. Peter was the member for Aston, and my current seat of Bruce runs alongside Aston. So I knew Peter not only from his time here but from his time in the local area. I have to say on that front that he was a tough campaigner and was very active in local community groups. If you went to functions in the area, he and Carol were always there. He was very well respected. In this business, when you share your local area with colleagues from other parties, quite often people will say things about those who are from the other party—and no doubt things are said about you as well—but the fact is that I have never heard anyone say a bad word about Peter in terms of his operation in the local area.

As the Prime Minister mentioned before, the Liberal Party won some nine seats in Victoria in 1990—I know I was put out of work by one of them—and, of those nine members that were elected in those nine seats at that time, only three remain in the parliament. In fact, one of them—the member for McEwen—actually went out and came back. The Chief Government Whip, as I understand it, is retiring at the next election, which will leave Bob Charles as the only continuing member of those nine, and I think he is in trouble!

Government members interjecting


Mr GRIFFIN —The nine you won—you won nine seats at that time. That is what we are talking about here. It is a pretty major achievement: 11 years in this place when you are in a marginal seat is pretty fantastic. The average is about eight years for anybody, so those of us who have been in marginal seats and have lasted beyond four or five years can say a few Hail Marys and thank the Lord for that.

On a policy front a lot has been said about Peter. I will not go through all of that again, other than to say that he believed in a fair go—he had a real concern for the disadvantaged in our society and a real concern about issues relating to foreign affairs and human rights. Much has been said about his involvement there. He was very thoughtful in his contributions and very intelligent in what he said. When he spoke on those issues, even if you did not agree with him—and I have got to say that I often did—you were always compelled by his arguments, his intellect and his commitment.

As parliamentarians, all of us come to this place with expectations, hopes and dreams, and quite often they do not quite work out that way. It is true to say that in politics timing is everything; it is also true to say that in the context of this place timing was pretty cruel to Peter with respect to what he may have been, given other circumstances taking place. But as a parliamentarian he could be very proud. As the old saying goes, it is one thing to stand up and be counted and it is another thing to keep standing after the counting has finished, and he always kept standing for the issues that he saw as important. He was not prepared to be phased out or bought off in any context around that—he stuck to his views. That is something he could be very proud of and that those who were close to him can be very proud of.

He was, I guess, a classic parliamentarian in the Westminster tradition. We often talk about the Westminster tradition in this place, but I think, as we all realise when we look at the classic operation of a Westminster system, ours is not quite there. But I think Peter, in his operation as a member of parliament, was very much there. He had that conviction and that preparedness to stand up on issues he saw as important. He believed and he had a go; he had integrity and he was well respected. I was at his funeral the other week and was not surprised but still impressed by the size of the crowd. It showed quite a lot about the fact that this was a man who was taken from us before he should have been and who certainly had the respect of his peers and the community.