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Wednesday, 30 November 2022
Page: 3996


Ms TINK (North Sydney) (16:18): I rise today on behalf of the people of North Sydney to extend our deepest condolences on the passing of John Spender KC, former member of North Sydney and Ambassador to France. To John's daughters, Allegra—who now serves as the member for Wentworth—and Bianca, to his wife, Catherine, and to all the others who knew and loved John personally, we are so sorry for your loss.

John Spender was a distinguished politician and diplomat who was known for his intelligence, graciousness, courage and principles. He was a barrister for almost 20 years before entering politics like his father before him. From 1980 to 1990, John served as the federal member for North Sydney, and many in the community remember him well and fondly. He was shadow minister for aviation and defence under former opposition leader Andrew Peacock, shadow Attorney-General under John Howard and, later, shadow minister for foreign affairs. During his time in politics, John undoubtedly contributed to several important conversation, on topics including tobacco advertising, Australia's relationship in the Asia-Pacific region and equal opportunities for women in the workplace. He was instrumental in the passage of the Parliamentary Privileges Act in 1987, which now allows senators, members of parliament and witnesses to speak freely in parliament, and provides some protections to journalists reporting on those proceedings.

John famously broke with his colleagues to defend journalist Laurie Oakes for his reporting of bad behaviour in Parliament House, and as I stand as a current member of this chamber I can't help but reflect he would be immensely proud of the actions that his daughter, the member for Wentworth, continues to take in this house as we call out the behaviour even today.

John also bravely crossed the floor during his first term in parliament, voting to ensure that witnesses in the National Crime Commission would continue to be reimbursed for legal costs. This courage in the House is something that inspires many of us even today, and it speaks volumes to the fact that John Spender was a man of principle who stood by his beliefs.

After leaving politics, John served Australia as a diplomat, building our relationships with France, Portugal and Cyprus. He was the Australian ambassador to France from 1996 to 2000, and was awarded a Legion d'honneur by the French parliament for his work there.

John Spender lived a rich and full life. As French ambassador Stephane Romatet once put it, 'John lived at least four lives in one lifetime: law, politics, diplomacy and, of course, his personal life as a beloved father and husband.' John Spender has left a deep and enduring impact on our nation and on our community of North Sydney. And while I am now proud to sit on the crossbench with his daughter Allegra, the member for Wentworth, I know that even her presence in this place will not fill the gap that he has left. We know he will be sadly missed. Vale John Spender.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Mr Young ): on indulgence—I would like to pass on my sympathies and my admiration for you having the courage to stay here and listen to that. I'm sure your dad would be very pleased.

I understand it is the wish of honourable members to signify at this stage their respect and sympathy by rising in their places, and I ask all present to do so.

Honourable members having stood in their places—

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: I thank the Federation Chamber.