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Wednesday, 29 August 2001
Page: 30579

Mr McARTHUR (7:41 PM) —I want to put on the public record the illustrious career of the member for Indi. At the end of this week, the member for Indi will finish a 25-year career in public life. He was first a member of the state parliament of Victoria and then a member of this House. Members might be aware that the member for Indi first became the member for Benambra in the Legislative Assembly in the Victorian parliament. It was a great win for Mr Lieberman on that occasion, because he took over the seat from a longstanding Country Party member, Mitchell. Not many people thought that young Lou Lieberman, who was an active Liberal, could win. He won that seat in March 1976. It was a great campaign out of the back of the ute, with three or four supporters. Lou Lieberman started his long career with that great win in the heartland of the Country Party, as it was known at that time. He met all the people and he won the seat, and from that time on Lou Lieberman was impregnable in the northern part of Victoria. He became a hero of the Liberal Party, having triumphed in very difficult circumstances.

He gained rapid promotion in the Victorian parliament. After three years, he was Assistant Minister for Health from 1979 to 1981. He became Minister for Planning from 1979 to 1982; Minister for Mines in 1981; Minister for Minerals and Energy in 1981; and Minister for Local Government from 1981 to 1982. He became an important figure in the Hamer government and made a great contribution to the debate at that time. His very good friend, the former member for Indi, Ewen Cameron, persuaded him to come to the federal parliament, so he became the member for Indi in 1993. He fought the election illustriously and won with the support of the former whip, Ewen Cameron, a very respected member for Indi. He won the election in 1993, 1996 and 1998.

It is interesting to look at the honourable member's career. I will report some instances. He was the Minister for Health, but he had a little bit of trouble with his tobacco growers in Myrtleford. In his usual colourful style, he managed to balance the interests of the health minister and those of the tobacco growers of Myrtleford. Only Lou Lieberman could achieve that delicate balance between those two interests. I know that he has been a great supporter of the wine industry, including Brown Brothers and other famous wineries in his electorate. In forestry, he has been a supporter of the RFA from the federal point of view. He took on the Kennett government in the interests of the workers at Mount Beauty. He has been running a long debate about the Albury bypass. That matter has been resolved very much to the satisfaction of the member for Indi.

He has doggedly looked after Australian motorists on the price of petrol. Nobody in this parliament knows more about the price of petrol, be it at the terminal gate or the pump. He has pursued that matter religiously and relentlessly on behalf of Australian motorists, and I think his final epitaph might be: Lou Lieberman got the lowest price and worked extremely hard for motorists throughout Australia.

He has spent 25 years in public life. He has been a fantastic local member, always friendly to supporters and opponents alike. He has fought some of the difficulties on the ground with our coalition partners, the National Party. He was well liked by everyone on all sides of politics, both in this parliament and in the state parliament. He has been personable to all his colleagues and I think to all colleagues on the other side of the parliament. He has been ably supported by his wife, Marj, through his 25-year career. He is a lawyer by background, but does not show any of those tendencies because he has a much broader view of the world. He is going to enjoy boating. He tells me he is going to go cycling, returning to his old pastime, and become the `Oppy of the bush' in northern Victoria. We look forward to seeing Lou Lieberman riding his bike and losing a bit of weight!

Lou Lieberman personified the democratic tradition of northern Victoria: service to the people, of the people, for the people. I put on the public record my personal appreciation of his friendship, and the friendship of all members, in his long and dedicated career to the people of Indi, the people of northern Victoria and the people of Australia. I say: well done, Lou Lieberman. May it be on the public record forever. (Time expired)

Mr SPEAKER —I know the question before the House is that the House do now adjourn, but the member for McMillan has sought indulgence to make a brief remark about the member for Indi. I am happy to grant indulgence to him—providing he is brief—and not consider it part of the adjournment debate.