Tuesday, 1 September 2020
Fletcher, Mr Tony
Last week, Tasmania lost a true gentleman of the Tasmanian parliament. Former MLC Tony Fletcher served in Tasmania's upper house for 24 years, between 1981 to 2005. More comfortable being referred to as 'Fletch' than 'the honourable', his electorate of Murchison covered his adopted heartland of Circular Head, the West Coast, King Island and the Greater Wynyard area. It was there he captained and coached the mighty Smithton Magpies to nine premierships in 13 years. He taught high school and became one of Tasmania's leading insurance agents. This was the region where he and the love of his life, Margaret, decided to settle. It is where they raised their children and watched their grandchildren become young adults.
Tony's memorable political career almost didn't happen. When he contested the seat of Russell in 1981, he won the seat by just 51 votes, but such was his impact over the years that he was re-elected unopposed in 1987 and 1993 and, following redistribution, he won the seat of Murchison comfortably in 1999. Tony was a gifted orator and truly a dominant force in Tasmanian parliamentary history. After just five years in the upper house and sitting as an Independent member, Tony was appointed by Premier Robin Gray as the leader for the government in the upper house. In 1996, he was again appointed by Premier Tony Rundle to the leader's role for his proven capacity to take members of the Legislative Council with him and deliver the government's agenda. It was universally acknowledged that Tony had no peer as a parliamentary contributor. He was a man of great wisdom and he brought to all debates a level of thought and consideration that is rarely seen in parliament.
On a personal note, every day when I walk around the electorate, I feel that I walk in Tony's footsteps, and I am honoured and I respect and treasure the moment. Tony remains one of the finest grassroots politicians that Tasmania has ever known. He fought for his people, he always had their back, and he never forgot a name, a face or an issue. He made promises and he kept them. He was one of the most caring and most generous men you could ever meet. Tasmania has lost a fine man who will be remembered fondly by all. People right across the North-West, the West Coast and King Island are surely the poorer for it, but, more importantly, richer for having known Tony Fletcher.