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Tuesday, 22 May 2001
Page: 26711

Mrs MOYLAN (5:51 PM) —The late member for Aston was a very fine colleague and he was a good friend. Peter Nugent gave exceptional service to this parliament, to his constituency of Aston and to the Liberal Party. I suspect that his influence will live on for a very long time.

There seemed to me to be a very common thread through the work of Peter Nugent in his parliamentary life—and that is the time during which I knew him. It did not matter whether it was in indigenous affairs, whether it was fighting for human rights, whether indeed it was his engagement with the international community or whether it was fighting for small business and looking after the interests of small business, Peter Nugent was totally committed to providing a voice for those who struggled to be heard in our communities. I think that was the real contribution that Peter made: to make sure that those people were heard. He was totally committed to what he believed in, he was courageous, he was meticulous in attention to detail and he was passionate in what he believed.

I had the great privilege and pleasure of serving with Peter on the Human Rights Subcommittee of the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade when he was chair. I also had the privilege of travelling with him on the trip to China that has been mentioned. I will not say any more about that except that Peter was an exceptional leader on those trips. We felt proud of the way he conducted himself, and he was always fair and helpful to members of the delegation. We enjoyed the experience immensely. A lot has been said about Peter's relationship with people from China, his commitment to that delegation, and also his commitment to human rights. One of the things I discovered about Peter was that I never found him to be judgmental in any way. He had a great understanding of the tremendous challenge faced by the Chinese government in managing a population of 1.3 billion and also of a history that has been difficult for that country. Although he was extremely strong on the human rights issue and fearless in asking questions on those visits to China, he always maintained a deep respect, which was felt by the Chinese. I know that he was respected by the people in the embassy here and by the Chinese people he had a relationship with overseas. I am sure that he is going to be sadly missed in that role.

Peter had a sense of humour and a sense of mischief. We heard from the member for Prospect about the famous ping-pong contest. Peter managed to get the ambassador to extend an invitation to the whole Australia-China Parliamentary Friendship Group to go to the embassy and have this match. We all sucked in our breath when he challenged the ambassador to a game of table tennis—and won. He had that sense of mischief and he really enjoyed that experience. I am sure it went a long way to continuing to build on the friendship with China. In the time I have been here, no-one in this parliament has worked harder than Peter Nugent to build on that relationship between Australia and China.

I have a great respect for Peter. I will always feel that respect and affection for Peter and Carol, who worked tirelessly together and who were always a great partnership. Peter has left a great legacy; the family can be very proud of his commitment to his work in this place and that he really stood for something. I extend my deep sympathy to Carol, to the family, to Peter's close friends and to his staff.