Senate debates

Thursday, 14 May 2009


Mrs Barbara Tweed Payne; Sir Geoffrey James Foot

8:53 pm

Photo of Guy BarnettGuy Barnett (Tasmania, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Tonight I stand to pay tribute to two outstanding Tasmanians who lived in Launceston, Barbara Tweed Payne and Sir Geoffrey James Foot. Barbara Payne was born in Devonport in 1926 to a family that has given much service to the people of Tasmania and Australia. She died at the age of 83 on Tuesday, 3 March 2009. She attended the local high school and then studied at the University of Tasmania, earning a Bachelor of Science in 1949. On completion of her studies she taught in Tasmania in both government and non-government schools, as well as in England, Scotland and Wales. On her return she again contributed to education in Tasmania. She was the first consultant in science education to the Tasmanian education department and was later a teacher-educator at the Tasmanian College of Advanced Education in Launceston.

In 1952 she married Stan Payne, with whom she raised four children while continuing to remain actively involved in the community. Along with her husband, Stan, she followed in the footsteps of her family tradition by devoting her time, energy and expertise to the benefit of others. Her contribution to the community included longstanding commitment over many years to many organisations wide and varied in nature—too numerous to list in total, but I will attempt to list some.

She was President of the Australian Federation of University Women (North) from 1976 to 1977, a committee member of the Launceston Women’s Shelter from 1976 to 1979, a member of the Tasmanian Library Board from 1979 to 1984 and a committee member of the Tasmanian Duke of Edinburgh awards from 1985 to 1990. She was a director from 1980 to 1989 of the Australian Bicentennial Authority, which delivered many projects of long-lasting benefit to the community, perhaps the most spectacular of which was the Tall Ships visit to Hobart in 1988. She was also a longstanding member of the World Education Society and the National Council of Women, to which her longstanding membership and service were honoured by life membership in 2002. Barbara Payne was elected as an alderman to the Launceston City Council in 1974. She was elected deputy mayor in 1978 and mayor in 1979 and is one of three women to hold the position of Mayor of Launceston. On that note, I interpose and say that my grandfather Sinclair Thyne was the Mayor of Launceston City Council in 1950 and 1951.

In her life’s work, she was always positive and sought to better the human condition, bringing much enlightenment and wellbeing to others. Her integrity was unquestionable and she was always a role model for others to follow. Barbara Payne was never a self-promoter. Her motivation was always to provide assistance to others. This was evident when she was recognised for her contribution with an OBE in 1982 and an AM in 1989. In 1996 she was awarded the Freedom of the City of Launceston.

Together with members of my family, I had the honour and privilege of knowing both Stan and Barbara Payne. It is a great honour to pay tribute to her tonight. Barbara Payne remained active in the community her entire life. In 2003 she, together with her two sisters, established the EMB Mann Tasmania University Scholarship for the promotion of science education in honour of their mother. At the time, Barbara Payne said she was honoured to give the gift of making a difference to someone else’s education.

The Hon. Sue Napier, state member for Bass and shadow minister for women, on 5 March this year tabled a notice of motion in the Tasmanian House of Assembly drawing attention to the significant contribution made by Barbara Payne, who died earlier that week. She noted that Barbara was significant in civic affairs and in promoting science both at schools and at the University of Tasmania. She said that Barbara Payne played an active role in community affairs, in so many ways benefiting Launceston and education generally. Thank you to Sue Napier and the Tasmanian Liberals for your tribute; likewise, on behalf of the Tasmanian Liberal Senate team, I pay this tribute to her tonight.

With respect to Sir Geoffrey James Foot, I met Sir Geoffrey Foot and he was also a good friend of my stepfather, Sir Raymond Ferrall. I had the privilege of being with my mother, Lady Sallie Ferrall, at the thanksgiving service in his honour just last week. Tasmania, in my view, lost one of its most distinguished residents with the passing of Sir Geoffrey Foot in Launceston last week. Apart from a few years when he lived in Hobart during World War II, he lived all his life in Launceston. Sir Geoffrey made an exceptional contribution in a wide range of fields. He was a leading accountant and served for several years on the University of Tasmania Council, including as Chairman of the Finance Committee. He was an Independent member for Cornwall in the Legislative Council from 1961 to 1972 and Leader of the Government from 1969 to 1972.

On 6 May, the Examiner newspaper had a well-written article entitled ‘Accolades for Sir Geoffrey’ by Alison Andrews. It said:

Tributes flowed yesterday for leading Launceston businessman and former State politician Sir Geoffrey Foot who died peacefully on Monday, aged 93.

Sir Geoffrey received accolades from both within politics and the community that he served for so long yesterday as a man whom people respected for his integrity no matter what their political colours.

Denison Liberal MHA Michael Hodgman, who served alongside Sir Geoffrey on the Legislative Council from 1966 to 1972, said that he had never heard anyone say a bad word about Sir Geoffrey.

And I’ve never heard him utter a cross word about anyone …

He was a great Tasmanian and probably the finest financial and economic expert that the Parliament has seen.

Launceston MLC Don Wing, who provided a eulogy at the thanksgiving service, said that the former accountant was a leader in the business community and a leader in his church. ‘He was one of the most significant Launcestonians,’ said Don Wing. Sir Geoffrey is survived by his daughter Jocelyn and his two sons Warwick and Greg and their families, including his grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He died at the ripe old age of 93.

In terms of his contribution, in 1980 he was invited to accept the highest honour within the Churches of Christ, the office of President of the Conference of Churches of Christ in Victoria and Tasmania. He travelled extensively across both Tasmania and Victoria during his term, visited many churches and met many members of the Churches of Christ. With dignity and grace he represented the church at many ecumenical activities. In 1985, the National Executive of the Churches of Christ requested Geoff to undertake an investigation into the work of the church’s Federal Aborigines Board, which was located in Perth. He did this by travelling much of the time at his own expense and visited mission fields in Queensland and Western Australia.

Sir Geoffrey enjoyed almost 30 years on the council of the Australian Bible Society—a wonderful institution—where he travelled to Sydney and, again at his own cost, served four years as national president and 20 years as national treasurer. It was understandable that, in the year 2000, the Australian Bible Society awarded him a very rare honour—the Elizabeth Macquarie Award—for his lifelong service.

For about a decade Sir Geoffrey was trustee and treasurer of the Launceston City Mission and played a significant contribution when he encouraged his fellow trustees to purchase a property on the corner of Frederick and William streets and build an extension to join the existing Mission Hall. Sir Geoffrey also made a contribution to the Salvation Army, where he was appointed chairman of the Launceston advisory board and served for 10 years. He was also a long-serving director of the Tasmanian Permanent Building Society, which endowed the Sir Geoffrey Foot Award to acknowledge Sir Geoffrey’s contribution to the Tasmanian financial sector. The award is periodically awarded to a young University of Tasmania student studying business or economics. He was knighted in the New Year Honours List of 1984 for his long and distinguished community service and was awarded the honorary degree of doctor of laws by the University of Tasmania in 1988.

It has been an honour and a pleasure for me to pay this tribute to such a man and, as a good friend of his son Greg Foot, to also pay tribute to him, to his brother Warwick Foot and to his sister Jocelyn Freedman and note that, in particular, Greg’s son Tim Foot wrote a lovely poem. He was in the USA and that tribute—that poem—was paid to his papa at the thanksgiving service just last week. Finally, he was a strong supporter of the Blues, both the Launceston Football Club and the Carlton Football Club, and he loved them dearly. He will be much missed.