House debates

Thursday, 4 February 2021


Anthony, Rt Hon. John Douglas (Doug), AC, CH

11:02 am

Photo of Justine ElliotJustine Elliot (Richmond, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise to speak on this condolence motion for the Rt Hon. John Douglas 'Doug' Anthony, who passed away in Murwillumbah on 20 December 2020 at the age of 90, just 11 days before his 91st birthday. I'd like to acknowledge Doug Anthony's dedicated service to our nation, firstly as Australia's longest-serving Deputy Prime Minister and, of course, his service to our New South Wales North Coast community as the federal member for Richmond from 1957 to 1984.

Last week's state memorial service at Tweed Heads really did outline Doug's extensive political career, with the highlight being, of course, that what he's most remembered for is the fact that, when he was Acting Prime Minister, often over the summer holidays, he ran the country from his caravan at New Brighton. It certainly was a different time, and many people reflected on the fact that he did run the country from the caravan. What was overwhelmingly evident in all of the reflections at the service was Doug's love and commitment to his family, to the land and, of course, to the Tweed. Doug Anthony served as Deputy Prime Minister for nine years, but he was first and foremost a son of the Tweed.

Whilst many have spoken about Doug's lengthy political career, for my contribution I'd like to focus on his community involvement and his generosity. Born, raised and having lived in Murwillumbah, Doug was an integral part of our community and even more so after his retirement in 1984. It's also very important to note that Doug Anthony was a strong supporter of the republic campaign in 1999. In fact, I first met Doug at this time, when, as a group of local mothers with their young children, we were invited to a media event at the Anthony's Murwillumbah home, 'Sunny Meadows'. The event was to highlight the very important reasons to support an Australian head of state. Doug was rightly and fiercely passionate about the need for Australia to become a republic and he campaigned strongly right throughout this time.

One of Doug's greatest legacies is of course the Tweed Regional Gallery. Doug and his wife, Margot, very kindly donated a portion of their land at Murwillumbah to build the new Tweed Regional Gallery, which opened in 2004 and is now a world-renowned art gallery that we're incredibly proud of. Later, in November 2011, Doug joined me at the announcement that the then federal Labor government had committed $1 million to build the Margaret Olley Art Centre at the Tweed Regional Gallery. This centre is remarkable. It's a recreation of parts of Margaret Olley's famous home studio and Doug, Margot and everyone in the community were very excited about it. The Anthonys were good friends with Margaret as well.

The centre features original architectural elements such as windows and doors, and the interiors are filled with so much furniture and more than 20,000 items that Margaret Ollie had collected over many, many years, all meticulously moved up to Murwillumbah for the wonderful centre that it is. It is truly remarkable, and I know that Doug and Margot were incredibly proud of it. It's a wonderful asset. The Tweed Regional Gallery director, Susi Muddiman, recently said:

Doug was a wonderful supporter of the Tweed Regional Gallery and Margaret Olley Art Centre.

…    .    .

Doug and Margot's donation of land from their farm—the spectacular site where the Gallery is now situated—will forever shine as the ongoing legacy of Doug's extraordinary commitment to enriching the lives of so many Australians. He will be greatly missed.

The other community involvement I'd like to highlight is Doug's generosity in relation to the Wedgetail Retreat community hospice in Murwillumbah. The hospice started with a dream to fulfil the community need for an inclusive, specialised palliative care facility in our region. It was a wonderful vision led by Meredith Dennis, the fantastic president of the Tweed Palliative Support group, a multi-award-winning charity that started in 1998, who provide free support and services for palliative care for patients.

Meredith and her team were so committed to finding premises to open a 24-hour hospice to provide palliative care services and they found the perfect site in Murwillumbah; however, it cost $1 million, and there was no capacity for the group to access the money needed to buy it. Doug Anthony kindly offered to lend the $1 million at a very, very low interest rate, but on one condition: he requested that this act remain anonymous. It's only recently become widely known that Doug was the original benefactor to Wedgetail Retreat. The group then paid back the loan in full in 5½ years through donations and fundraising. Of course both Doug and Margot were very much involved in assisting them and Margot is a patron of the organisation. Along with many people in the community, they were very proud in 2015 when the doors opened to Wedgetail Retreat, New South Wales' only 24-hour palliative care community hospice, where patients and their families are welcomed into a friendly homelike environment in a beautiful rainforest setting. Nurses and trained volunteer palliative carers offer a person-centred approach to caring for patients and their loved ones. The vulnerable and disadvantaged are cared for free of charge. Clients and families sometimes donate funds to assist with ongoing operational costs. This is a unique and remarkable hospice and, as Meredith Dennis recently told me, the fact is Wedgetail would never have happened without Doug's generosity, and we thank him for that.

Doug Anthony was a man committed to his family and committed to the land, and that was clearly evident in all of the stories and reflections we heard at the memorial service. Of course, at this sad time, our thoughts are with his lovely wife, Margot, the true love of his life; and their children, Dugald, Jane and Larry, and their families. As the current member for Richmond and on behalf of our North Coast community, we say farewell to the former member for Richmond, Doug Anthony, son of the Tweed. May he rest in peace.

11:09 am

Photo of Josh FrydenbergJosh Frydenberg (Kooyong, Liberal Party, Treasurer) Share this | | Hansard source

It's my honour to follow those eloquent words from the member for Richmond paying tribute to a great Australian, Doug Anthony, acknowledging his love of family and his service to the community. This place is meant to epitomise the very best of our country—people who come here motivated by public service, people with experience from all walks of life. Doug Anthony represented the very best of us and his contribution was significant—like that of his father, like that of his son and like that of all members of the Anthony family. He served in the parliament for 26 years, which saw him serve with five Australian prime ministers and seven Liberal leaders. With the loss of Doug Anthony, we have lost one of the last remaining links with the Menzies government.

Upon his retirement, Doug Anthony said that a person leaves politics through defeat, disgrace, disability, death or by decision. He clearly chose the last of those—he left by his own decision—and not many people in this place can say that. Doug Anthony made an enormous contribution to public policy. One key area—

A division having been called in the House of Representatives—

Sitting suspended from 11:11 to 11:49

As I said, it's my honour to speak in tribute to a great Australian, Doug Anthony. His many public policy contributions included those in the field of trade. He was a strong proponent of Australia's trading position, building on the foundations and following in the footsteps of Sir John McEwen. Whether it was in the resources and minerals sector or the Japanese beef market, whether it was building new links to new markets in the Middle East and Korea or whether it was extending our existing relationship with New Zealand, he made a massive impression in the field of trade. As the Minister for the Interior, his contribution was also significant. He was at the helm when Lake Burley Griffin was filled. He commissioned the construction of Anzac Parade. Famously, he moved the statue of King George V from the front of Old Parliament House to the side so there was an uninterrupted view from Capital Hill to Mount Ainslie. I don't think that was a sign of where he'd be on the republic debate, though. He was also one of the first people to purchase a house in the satellite town of Woden, and he was intimately involved in the decision to build this House, the new Parliament House, where we stand today.

Doug Anthony was somebody who was friendly and likable. He was described as not being a hater. He could play his politics tough, as a boy from the land no doubt could, but he was also very, very much respected by both sides of the political divide. John Howard, in speaking at Doug Anthony's funeral, spoke fondly about the man. He described him as 'an enormous force for stability and common sense'.

Once, when interviewed by John Howard back in 2016, Doug Anthony recalled a story about how he used to love listening to the speeches of Sir Robert Menzies. He said he'd always go to the chamber to listen to Menzies because the speeches were interesting. One day, Menzies was speaking in response to the Labor Party's criticism of the budget. The Labor Party had torn the budget to pieces. 'I knew Menzies was coming on to speak and I made my way to the chamber. Just as I got there Menzies was tearing Calwell to pieces, and I thought, "How can he make such a great speech without notes? If I could make a speech half as good as that I'd be very happy."' Later that night, at one o'clock in the morning, there was a party in McEwen's office, and at that party there were members of staff of Sir Robert Menzies. Doug Anthony went up to one of them and said: 'I was listening to your boss tonight. Gosh, he made a great speech; it just was so easy!' And this young woman replied. 'So easy? I was up till four o'clock last night writing every single word of that speech.' Doug Anthony said that taught him a lesson: if you're going to make a good speech, you've got to work on it yourself; you can't just make it up on the spot.

Doug Anthony told the story about how, in his words, he never intended go into politics in the first place. 'In fact, I was badgered into it,' he said. For someone who was badgered into politics, he's left a lasting legacy and the deepest of impressions. He said at his press conference upon retirement: 'I'm retiring because I believe it is the right time. I think I have made my contribution, to the best of my ability, to the public life of this country.' Whether you're a National, a Liberal or a member of the Labor Party, we're all Australians, and when a great Australian such as Doug Anthony passes, we come together to acknowledge his love of family and his contribution to country. May he rest in peace.

11:55 am

Photo of Michelle LandryMichelle Landry (Capricornia, National Party, Assistant Minister for Northern Australia) Share this | | Hansard source

I, too, would like to associate myself with the remarks of the previous speakers. In December we mourned the loss of one of the National Party's great sons and a stalwart of Australian politics, Doug Anthony. What a remarkable legacy he has left our nation—Australia's longest-serving Deputy Prime Minister, Leader of the Nationals for 12 years, a federal minister for 16 years, and the member for Richmond for 27 years until his retirement in 1984. Throughout his life he was a tenacious and powerful voice for the millions of Australians who live in our regional, rural and remote communities. I would like to take this opportunity to join with my federal colleagues to reflect on his life and his career.

John Douglas Anthony was born in 1929, the son of Hubert Lawrence and Jessie Mary Anthony, in Murwillumbah, northern New South Wales. His passion and talent for politics seemed to have been in his blood. His father was first elected to federal parliament in 1937 and was a minister in the first Menzies government, and, of course, Doug's son, Larry Anthony, continued the family's political legacy by being elected as the member for Richmond in 1996.

Doug was educated at Murwillumbah secondary school and The King's School in Parramatta. He went to attend the Queensland Agriculture College with a mind to working on his family's dairy farm. With his father's untimely passing in 1957, he decided to stand for the seat of Richmond. He won the by-election convincingly and was duly elected to federal parliament at the young age of 27.

Looking back, his achievements in agriculture and trade are legendary. In his first appointment as Minister for Primary Industry, he was instrumental in establishing the Australian Wool Commission. Importantly, he introduced wheat quotas as a way of limiting overproduction following a decline in prices. This was addressed by encouraging the Australian Wheat Board to open flour mills overseas.

When Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser and the coalition formed government in 1975, Doug was given the role of Deputy Prime Minister, Minister for Overseas Trade, and the Minister for National Resources. He understood very clearly the enormous benefits that trade would bring to the agriculture and mining industries, which would in turn benefit all of rural Australia.

During his time as trade minister, Doug secured tremendous results. He negotiated the trans-Tasman Australia-New Zealand Closer Economic Relations Trade Agreement, which remains a benchmark for international trade partnerships. In 1979, he was the first Australian senior minister to visit the Middle East and led the way in forming a bilateral science and technology agreement with Saudi Arabia. This was the first of several important trade related agreements that soon followed across the region, including with Iraq, Iran and the Gulf States.

The outcomes that Doug Anthony secured for regional Australia continue to stand strong. He was devoted to ensuring the people who lived in the bush had a fierce advocate in government and someone who would always have their backs. Doug made it his life's work to ensure that regional Australians were not just listened to but were front and centre for all decisions made by government.

I had the pleasure of meeting Doug on several occasions, and he was a true gentleman. Simply put, he represented the core values that underpin the National Party—a man of integrity, decency and unbreakable resolve.

Of course, during the years that he was Acting Prime Minister, over many summers in the late seventies and early eighties, Doug Anthony will always be famous for running the nation out of his caravan on the North Coast of New South Wales. By the time he retired from politics in 1984, it was clear Doug was leaving behind a tremendous career and an enduring legacy of achievements and an example that we all aspire to. Throughout his whole life, he ensured that regional Australians had a voice—a real voice, a powerful voice.

As we honour Doug's memory, my thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Margot, and their children, Dugald, Jane and Larry, and his entire family. He was a true giant of the National Party and Australian politics. With his passing we have truly lost one of our greatest, and he will be sorely missed.

11:59 am

Photo of David GillespieDavid Gillespie (Lyne, National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I feel it's a great honour to rise and pay tribute to the life of a wonderful man who made an indelible mark on this world. As the ancient Greeks used to describe good, upstanding men as 'good and beautiful', or kalos kagathos, surely Doug Anthony was a great man. I had the privilege of attending his memorial service, and the thing that struck me was the affection and the admiration his family, his family's family, his grandchildren and his friends had for him. All had a huge affection for Doug, the man. Many people focus their whole life on their career, but it was quite obvious that his family was as much his career as his political career.

He certainly had a rich life. He wasn't a one-trick-pony politician. He lost his mother when he was six or seven, went off to boarding school and lived with his father—who was the member for Richmond before him—at the Kurrajong Hotel. I met him at a couple of dinners when I first joined the party and in 2008, 2009 and 2010. I think the last time we sat together was at the Lismore Town Hall for the launch of my good friend and colleague the member for Page's election campaign. There were some very interesting stories. During his time living in the Kurrajong with his father when he was a young boy, not only did he roam the corridors of Parliament House but he also met pretty much every Prime Minister from Billy Hughes onwards. By the time he left, he had met and known personally about 11 prime ministers, which is quite an achievement.

His political legacy is quite astonishing, with 27 years as the member for Richmond and 10 years as Deputy Prime Minister and leader of the party. I grew up in Queanbeyan as a young child—Queanbeyan has always lived in the shadow of Canberra, but that wasn't always the case; Canberra was quite small when we were growing up—and I remember that the mayor of Canberra was the Minister for the Interior, who ran the National Capital Development Commission. I remember all the local controversy. His name, Black Jack McEwen, featured at kitchen table conversations between my mother and father, who were opinionated about politics. That name came up often. Because Doug was the Minister for the Interior, he was like the mayor of Canberra. We didn't have self-government then. So he really had a local mark.

He was involved in the wool floor price scheme, the Wheat Board and quotas, as was mentioned by the member for Capricornia, the New Zealand and Australia free trade agreement, which then evolved into the Australia-New Zealand Closer Economic Relations Trade Agreement, trade with the Middle East and also resources. He was there at the double dissolution. He came and saw off Gough Whitlam. He served with various prime ministers. He served with Menzies, Fraser, Gorton and Holt. He had been through an amazing period of national public life at the highest levels and also institutionally.

But, as I said, he wasn't a one-trick pony. He was a trained professional in agronomy and agriculture. After he left, he went back to agriculture—in pork, dairy, beef and, I understand, cotton. He was a director of a mineral exploration and gold mining company. He—along with Margot, who was a trained concert pianist who performed overseas—was quite a philanthropist. He and Margot bequeathed land, on the family farm, to the Tweed Heads Regional Art Gallery, overlooking the most spectacular views of the Tweed River. You could say he was a true renaissance man.

But his political career didn't define him. He was a knockabout fellow, highly intelligent, very disciplined and, by all accounts, a very good leader. He was firm when he needed to be, he could win an argument and he was prepared to take an argument up and fight for it, to argue the case and win, which is one of the great skills of politics.

When I was growing up, as a teenager my political consciousness came to light through public affairs and a fascination with history. I was in high school when the double dissolution happened. Doug Anthony inspired me. I had a medical career for 33 years, but my interest in politics resurfaced 33 years later. As I said to Larry Anthony, Doug was a role model and the main reason I stuck with the National Party. My family background was on the land. As I was growing up, Doug Anthony was seen as being more important in discussions than even Menzies, Fraser or Gorton—everything was referenced back to Doug.

I thank Doug for his legacy. When he passed, a bit of the National Party and a bit of that slice of life in Australia passed with him. We are all very sad. I would like to salute him and thank his family for sharing his wonderful life with the nation of Australia and the National Party. Vale Doug Anthony.

12:06 pm

Photo of Kevin HoganKevin Hogan (Page, National Party, Assistant Minister to the Deputy Prime Minister) Share this | | Hansard source

Doug Anthony is a hero of mine and of many people I know. He was a true legend. I have the good fortune to live in the region that Doug represented. The parliament was expanded in 1984. Before that, the seat of Richmond took in many areas of the current seat of Page. When I walk around my region, people still talk about Doug very fondly—the great person he was, the great politician he was and the great representative he was.

I personally come across Doug quite a number of times. As a middle-aged man and an MP, whenever I came across Doug I still felt almost like a teenage boy. I'd be patting my hair down and straightening my coat, because I truly felt that I was in the presence of a legend. He had a very easy smile. He was always very interested in how things were going for you. He had a great love for people and he had a great love for people who had followed in his footsteps and been of service to their community. I loved a line of his that was mentioned at his memorial service last week: 'If you smile at the world, the world will smile back.' That was a lovely motto of his that was said about him last week.

I'm a proud Nat—and the forerunner of the National Party was the Country Party—and I know that you too have a great fondness for the Nationals, Mr Deputy Speaker. We have been around as a political party for 100 years. The UAP was the bigger party within the coalition. There have been other minor parties like the DLP and the Australian Democrats. There are parties that have come and gone while the Country Party and the National Party have been around—and we have certainly been written off a number of times. Doug Anthony and people like him—the way they did the job, the way they represented their communities, and what they handed down to the people who followed after them—are the reason we are here. Doug stands tall within our party, within our movement, along with the likes of 'Black Jack' McEwen and Earle Page. They are giants of our party, they are giants of our story and they are the reason we are still here.

What an amazing story the Anthony family is. The Anthony family isn't just an amazing Australian political story; it is an amazing Australian story. We heard people talk about the family at the memorial service last week. Doug's father, Larry, served at Gallipoli. He came back grateful to be alive—like every person who came back from there alive. From all accounts, he was a very gritty and determined banana farmer. He became very successful at his pursuit, which led him to get involved in the political movement of what he needed to protect. He was a successful dairy farmer. He started representing, and looking out for, farming and agricultural pursuits and, as we know, ended up being the member for Richmond for a long, long time. We all know about Doug's childhood, roaming around Parliament House and the Kurrajong Hotel, meeting all the Australian political luminaries at the time and experiencing the history of Australian politics. It's an amazing Australian political story, the Anthony story, in the sense that we have had three members of the Anthony family as ministers within the respective governments that they represented.

Doug was a minister in the Menzies government, as was his father and as was his son Larry. As has been said, he was the leader of our party. He was Deputy Prime Minister and leader—he was leader for 13 years and Deputy Prime Minister for nine years—serving with three prime ministers. He was the longest-serving Deputy Prime Minister we've had. He was a force, a lot of people say, and I think we still do, more often than not. A lot of people say that, within the Fraser government, Peter Nixon, Ian Sinclair and Doug Anthony as Deputy Prime Minister certainly punched above their weight and got results. They were very highly regarded within that coalition government and made sure it was a successful government.

I was taken with a couple of things that were said at his memorial service last week, because he was—I think the member for Lyne mentioned this before—a political warrior and he didn't shy away from any belief that he had or anything that he thought he needed to advocate for his community or, indeed, our country as a minister or Deputy Prime Minister. I want to quote two things that he said when he joined the parliament and when he left. When he joined, he said, 'We may disagree with a member's political views, but don't let that not prevent us from being friends. I certainly hope I shall be friendly with political allies and political foes as well.' When he bowed out in 1983, he said, 'I have never tried to build any deliberate enemies, although I'll play politics with anybody and I hope honourable members will, but I hope that we can all be fair with each other.'

I think that's a great attitude to go into politics with. While we may sit here—and let's not shy away from this: this is a very partisan place and it should be—this is a place where we debate and argue about the values and things that we need to progress our country, in many different ways. So I don't think we should ever shy away from the combativeness of this place, but I think, behind that, we are all human beings. We are all in this with good intent, and, if you can go away from the chamber and go elsewhere in this house or building and still have respect for each other and the differing views that we have, then it's a better place.

The thing, again, that struck me at the memorial service last week was Doug retired at 54. I'm older than 54 already; I probably don't look it to you, Deputy Speaker Zimmerman, but I am. So, of course, he had a whole life once he left. There were some very moving tributes from his children, Larry, Jane and Dugald. A number of his grandchildren were there and what came across was that none of his grandchildren ever knew him as a politician. They were wandering around the region and everyone talked about their grandfather, and they said, 'That's Pop. He's a great guy.' They never knew that part of him, growing up as children. A number of them said, as young adults, they started to do their own research and understand the political lion that he was. A number of them spoke and a number of them performed musical items, but you could see they all had a great love for him.

The romance he had with Margot is well documented, about how he pursued her for years before she agreed—a great romance, as Larry said, that never died. His children loved him. It was obvious his grandchildren all loved him very much because they just knew him as Pop, a guy that loved them and had time for them when they'd hang out with him on the family farm.

There was another lovely tribute. His birthday was on New Year's Eve. When he turned 70—from memory, it was going into the year 2000—he had a big party. Doug didn't mind a party, but he gave every single one of his grandchildren what he called a confidence coin. If you go onto ABC iview and watch the memorial service, his daughter, Jane, talks about this and what he wrote. He wrote a message to all of his grandchildren when he gave them what he called the confidence coin on his 70th birthday. The essence of the confidence coin was this: believe in yourself. Don't be too cocky, but believe in yourself. And people who have false confidence, if they lie, cheat and they do those types of things, will always be found out. But he said life is a wonderful thing to grasp. Believe in yourself and have that self-confidence. If you ever doubt yourself, take this coin out and say, 'I've got Pop's confidence coin.'

Again, it was a great privilege to be at that memorial service last week. It was a great honour to be there and to get an insight into part of his life that we don't know. When we go to someone's funeral or memorial service, you'll always hear things about their personal life that you didn't know. He was a giant within the movement of the National Party and the Country Party. It was a privilege to be there and a privilege to know him. May he rest in peace.

12:15 pm

Photo of Keith PittKeith Pitt (Hinkler, National Party, Minister for Resources, Water and Northern Australia) Share this | | Hansard source

I acknowledge the contributions of my colleagues through this debate, an acknowledgement of the great contribution of Doug Anthony. On 28 January we did bid farewell to a giant of the National Party. Certainly there have been any number of contributions about what he's done for our nation; for regional Australia; the famous caravan. But I want to speak about character. Genuinely, Doug Anthony was a quintessential Australian. He was a man who had character, and that shone through at the memorial service last week. There were images of Doug at the beach with an Alvey reel and a bamboo creel and a surf rod and a dog. I know that half the people who might be listening to this broadcast probably don't know what a bamboo creel is. He was quintessentially Australian, taking time to go fishing, to spend time with their families, to teach and provide knowledge and wisdom to their grandchildren. I think that really shone through at the memorial service, not only last week but in all the contributions that have been made here in this parliament.

He was a dairy farmer. He was a lifelong supporter of the National Party and a giant of our party. For me, my experience with Doug Anthony, as someone who doesn't come from a political background or a political family, as someone who was a child through the 1970s and 1980s, was with DAAS Kapital, the Doug Anthony All Stars, that famous comedy group who were always out there on the cutting edge, tearing apart pretty much everyone in public life. Last week at the memorial, there was a clip played. It was an interview between the former ABC interviewer Libby Gore, the members of the Doug Anthony All Stars, and a live cross via satellite to none other than Doug Anthony. Libby Gore opened with a question and said, 'So, Mr Anthony, what do you think of the Doug Anthony All Stars?' And with a straight face, very, very calm, he said, 'I think they're the world's greatest plagiarists.' I think that was a real reflection on the character of the man that was Doug Anthony: 'the world's greatest plagiarists.

I want to acknowledge the contribution of Larry last week. There are very few things in life more difficult than doing a eulogy not only for a family member or friend but for your father. Larry spoke incredibly well, in my view. At the memorial, he spoke about his father's humble upbringing, the influence of his wife, Margot, and how she shaped his political views. I get that. It happens to me as well. My wife will often say to me, 'Well, at work they talked about this, this and this, and you've got this, this and this wrong.' I've got to say that probably 10 times out of 10 she's right. It's good to have that level of support, and I'm very pleased that it was there for them.

He also said, 'My father did not directly seek power. The power and responsibility came to him, and he discharged this with enormous capacity, enthusiasm, energy and wisdom.' Larry said many of his father's qualities were passed on from Doug's own father through the battles that he had to endure during two world wars. But what grounded him was Margot, his farm, his family and his local community. His son said he believed and hoped that Australia is a better place because of Doug Anthony. We know that Australia and the Nationals are all better because of Doug's contribution.

It was a great turn-out at the memorial service. I travelled with former senators Ron Boswell and Mike Evans, both of whom are well known to the people in the room. I certainly got a lot of stories on the road from Brisbane down to the service and back. But I think also of the contribution of John Howard. At 80, with no notes, he went straight to the lectern and delivered from the heart. He remembered Doug Anthony as a man defined by strength and decency, an emissary for the producers of Australia throughout a nearly three-decade career. John Howard said he was a man who respected the importance of the coalition. He didn't bully people, but the strength of his personality and the strength of his arguments won through.

I couldn't agree more with the former prime minister's comments. Doug Anthony is one of the great Nationals. He is a great loss to his family, to Australia and of course to our great party. Doug Anthony is someone that we should all look to emulate in this place. We should all look to the history and the lessons that he has provided for us. I say: vale, Doug Anthony. May you rest in peace. We send our condolences to his family and friends.

12:20 pm

Photo of Damian DrumDamian Drum (Nicholls, National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

It is with a heavy heart that we have the opportunity in this House to pay tribute to the great Doug Anthony. I do so largely on the fact that I have a very strong working relationship with his son, Larry. I have enormous respect for Larry. Here is an opportunity to share someone's thoughts who grew up in a non-political house. My own father had such high regard for Doug Anthony. He was the voice of reason and the Leader of the Country Party for so many years. This man, with the voice of reason, now has his character exposed as someone who had a loving relationship with his wife and with his children. He lost his mother at a very, very young age and therefore went on the adventure of a lifetime with his dad, who was a Gallipoli and World War II veteran and then a politician. Young Sir Doug headed off to parliament, lived in the Kurrajong and used Old Parliament House as his playground. It's quite a story when you see all of this come together. Doug Anthony was a genuine farmer with a genuine love of the land. He started careers, on the land with dairy and then moved to beef cattle. It brings together a bigger picture. I would like to put on the record that, at a very, very young age, whilst we weren't in a political family, we did have incredible respect for the Leader of the Country Party over those years.

History now shows the support that he was able to give Black Jack McEwen. He was able to strive to make the decisions that have actually had long-lasting impacts on this great country. It's great to see that Doug Anthony has been acknowledged genuinely as a man of purpose, someone who didn't necessarily seek the office of the parliament, but the death of his father more or less thrust him onto the political stage at the age of 27. There are stories around running the country from a caravan and stories about having bedtime stories read to him by John Curtin. It makes for a man of humility. It's an enormous story of a genuine icon of the political landscape in this country.

It's not that this man was all nice, all friendly and so forth. It's been pointed out that, when the issues needed to be debated, when the points needed to be made, this man was also fierce and unwavering in his thoughts. What an incredible setting. We can now look back and reflect on all of the various leaders that came together and how he was able to perform in the role that he had. The accolades keep coming back to the strength he was given by his wife of so many years. It is just incredible that he was able to run the country as the stand-in Prime Minister, the Acting Prime Minister, over the summer months, and effectively did that from a little shack on the beach and then did it from a caravan, in the early days without a phone and later with a phone. It certainly goes to an era that is very hard for us to understand today, when all of our leaders are effectively working 24/7.

I want to pay tribute to Larry and his siblings. To have three generations of Anthonys to represent their electorate in this parliament is something that's very, very special. Larry Anthony did all of this and retired by the age of 54. I have a belief that you can always tell a lot about an individual from what they do post parliament. Doug Anthony, along with his wife, was certainly a continuous contributor to his community outside of parliament for the many, many years he was in great health. I think that's a great record for him to have. I would like to, again, send my wishes to Larry and his family and to acknowledge that we really have lost one of the great political leaders of our lifetime.

12:25 pm

Photo of Barnaby JoyceBarnaby Joyce (New England, National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Right from the outset, I'd like to confer my deepest sympathies to Margot, to Dugald, Jane and Larry and to the grandchildren. I was speaking with William at the service. This is the family who has, as part of its legacy, one of the giants of Australian politics.

I'd like to convey a story. A lot of work went into the creation of the single desk. It was National and Country Party policy and it was driven hard. At the time, when Prime Minister Billy McMahon decided that he was going to get rid of the single desk—

A division having been called in the House of Representatives—

Federation Chamber adjourned at 13:14