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Tuesday, 28 August 2001
Page: 30406

Mr HOCKEY (Minister for Financial Services and Regulation) (5:19 PM) —It is a rare opportunity for a member of the executive to be able to say something about another member of the House who may be retiring. But, with your indulgence, Mr Deputy Speaker, and that of members of the opposition, I take the opportunity to say something about the member for Indi, who is retiring in the lead-up to this election. The member for Indi will, I understand, not be in the House after this week, for various reasons.

I would like to say something, because, in the short time that I have been in the House since 1996, the member for Indi has struck me as one of the gentlemen of the place. He is a very genuine, honest and courageous person. He certainly has a big heart. His heart must be bigger than his hands, and he has the world's largest hands. Lou Lieberman is a person of great principle. At all times I have found him to be very genuinely concerned, not just about his constituents but about people generally. He is always interested in people. I remember a number of occasions when I have been with him. On one occasion in Melbourne, when I was with another person, Lou spent a considerable amount of time understanding that person— whom he had never met before and whom he would probably never meet again—because he is genuinely interested in humanity, which might be linked to the fact that he has had a very distinguished career.

He was elected to the Victorian Legislative Assembly for Benambra in 1976. He retired in 1992 from the Legislative Assembly and was elected to the House of Representatives in 1993 and re-elected in 1996 and again in 1998. He has had a very distinguished career in Victoria. He was Assistant Minister for Health from 1979 to 1981. Before that, he was Minister for Planning, Minister for Mines, Minister for Minerals and Energy, and Minister for Local Government. Certainly, members of the opposition would join with me in saying that that is a very distinguished parliamentary career.

In the House of Representatives Lou has served on many committees: privileges; industry, science and technology; Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander affairs; family and community affairs; and publications. More recently, he has served in a very distinguished manner on the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade. From 1982 to 1991, as shadow minister for health, further education, water resources and property and services, he did the very hard yards in the state parliament. In the federal parliament, he was Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Opposition from 1994 to 1996, which was a demanding period in the lead-up to the 1996 election. He had a distinguished career as a barrister and solicitor and, of course, a very distinguished career as a major in the Australian Army Reserve from 1958.

I think all members of the House would join with me in wishing Lou, Marj and the children all the very best for the future. He has served the people of his electorate very well in the federal parliament. He has served the people of his previous electorate very well in the Victorian Legislative Assembly. Lou Lieberman is certainly one of parliament's gentlemen. He will be sadly missed by all, but we wish him all the very best for a long, distinguished and very enjoyable retirement.