Senate debates

Tuesday, 12 February 2008


Hon. Kim Edward Beazley, AC

5:42 pm

Photo of Nick MinchinNick Minchin (SA, Liberal Party, Leader of the Opposition in the Senate) Share this | Hansard source

I have pleasure in rising on behalf of the coalition to support the motion by Senator Evans and extend our sympathies to the family of Kim Beazley Sr upon his very sad passing on 12 October 2007. There is no doubt that Kim Beazley was a true stalwart of the Labor Party. He had a tremendous political career. He was very well respected on all sides of politics, both during his long service as a member of the House of Representatives and in his retirement. It is certainly true that the Labor Party has lost one of its real gentlemen, and the Australian people have lost a very loyal former representative.

Senator Evans has detailed Mr Beazley’s long and distinguished political career, which I will not repeat. I note that he had probably one of the longest parliamentary careers in our history, and spent over one-third of his life in this place. Regrettably for him, he spent some 25 of his 32 years in opposition. He had the great misfortune that his career coincided with the long reign of the coalition under Sir Robert Menzies. How on earth anyone could put up with 25 years of opposition is certainly beyond me, so I applaud Mr Beazley’s clear resolve, tenacity and commitment to his cause. I think he was acknowledged by all sides of politics as a man of great principle, and he endeavoured to ensure that those principles guided his decision making. Indeed, many on our side of politics had great respect for his deep commitment to his Christian faith. That led to many coalition members of parliament having much in common with Kim Beazley on the great moral issues of our time. I should note that he also had, as a parent, the great good fortune to see his son Kim enter politics and have a very distinguished career as a senior figure in the Australian Labor Party. I think that Kim Beazley Jr shares many of his father’s great qualities and he is unlucky not to have had the opportunity to become Australia’s prime minister. Perhaps he will have an opportunity to serve Australia in some other capacity in the future.

At the time of Kim Beazley Senior’s death in October, former Prime Minister John Howard, who knew Kim Beazley well, highlighted his enormous respect for Kim’s great debating skills and his innate courtesy to the Australian people. John Howard, of course, overlapped with Kim Beazley—I think John’s first three years were Kim’s last three years—and he noted what many understood then and understand now, that he was one of our great parliamentarians. He was also a great Australian, and, in my view, in honour of him we should all endeavour to conduct ourselves in our public lives in such a fashion as to ensure that the Commonwealth parliament continues to attract men and women of his great character.

To his wife, Betty, and to Kim, Merrilyn and their families the opposition places on record its appreciation of Kim’s long and meritorious public service and tenders its profound sympathy to them in their bereavement. We join with Senator Evans in also offering our condolences for the sad loss of David Beazley last year.


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