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Monday, 17 June 1996
Page: 1607

Senator BOSWELL (Leader of the National Party of Australia in the Senate) —On behalf of the National Party in the Senate, I rise to support the condolence motion moved by Senator Hill on behalf of the government for Tom Tehan, a former National Party senator for Victoria. I understand that some of Mr Tehan's family are present here today. I welcome them and wish to extend my greatest sympathy for the passing away of Mr Tehan.

Tom Tehan made an enormous contribution to the community of Kyabram and also to the Victorian National Party through his decades of public and community service. At his funeral last week, the whole town of Kyabram came to a halt. Shops and businesses closed as thousands of people packed the St Augustine's church and lined the streets in demonstration of their respect, gratitude and sorrow at the passing of this great community leader.

Tom Tehan epitomised the National Party. He made a huge contribution to the community with his years of community service at the grassroots level. He took the concerns of the organisations and of the people with him when he entered the Senate in 1975.

Tom Tehan was born in Kyabram, Victoria on 18 June 1916. He was educated at St Mary's Convent, Tatura, and Xavier College. In 1945, he obtained a Bachelor of Laws from Melbourne University. Upon graduation, he obtained employment in the state taxation office and then proceeded to the Victorian Crown Solicitor's Office. In 1947, he was admitted as a barrister and a solicitor in the Supreme Court of Victoria and, two years later, joined the firm of Morrison and Sawers. It was at this time he joined the Country Party—later the National Country Party and now the National Party—and his lifelong association with the party began.

Tom Tehan was a man of unflagging commitment and drive. Despite the demands of a challenging legal career, assisting his wife Nance with his family responsibilities for his four children, and his active involvement in parish life, he still found time and commitment to contribute to the community of Kyabram. He was a board member of Kyabram hospital from 1948, served as president for 10 years from 1963, and was made a life governor in 1985.

He gave three decades of service to Rotary, during which time he was president of the Kyabram club in 1963-64 and district governor from 1980-81. He also served as a trustee of the Elderly Citizens Committee, the Kyabram Youth Club and the Kyabram Chamber of Commerce, among many others. For this long and meritorious service to the community, Tom was named Kyabram Citizen of the Year in 1993. He was made a member of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta in recognition of his community and charitable works.

The Country Party greatly welcomed the drive of Tom Tehan and called on his natural leadership qualities. He became state vice-president in 1973 and state president in 1975. He was a confidant of Jack McEwen and was a person everyone in the Victorian National Party turned to for guidance and advice.

In 1975, Tom Tehan entered federal parliament as part of the Fraser-Anthony landslide victory. In his first speech in the Senate, he foreshadowed the areas he would endeavour to represent: primary industry in particular, the dairy and horticultural industries, and family and youth issues. He threw himself wholeheartedly into committee work. His legal expertise was called on to chair the Joint Government Parties Law and Government Committee, and he was a hardworking member of the legal and constitutional affairs committee, the social welfare committee, the publications committee, and the Select Committee on Drug Trafficking and Drug Abuse.

A man of immense promise, talent and drive, it was a great loss to the parliament and his Victorian constituents that his contribution was limited to only one term. Everyone spoke well of Tom Tehan, and he was genuinely liked by all. As he himself said during the valedictory debate:

It has been said that one of the hallmarks of a successful politician is that he makes some enemies. If that is the litmus test, I have failed as I believe I have made many friends in this place and I leave with no enemies.

After leaving parliament, Tom resumed his law career and was a senior partner at Morrison and Sawers until 1987. He continued his unstinting service to community organisations. The things that were important to Tom Tehan were his family, his church, the law, the National Party and his community.

Tom Tehan will be remembered as a great community leader who unselfishly dedicated most of his life to the betterment of the community of Kyabram. On behalf of the National Party in the Senate I extend most sincere condolences to Nance, his family and many friends.