Senate debates

Monday, 24 June 2013


Hodgman, Hon. William Michael, AM, QC

4:05 pm

Photo of George BrandisGeorge Brandis (Queensland, Liberal Party, Shadow Attorney-General) Share this | Hansard source

Thank you, Mr Deputy President. I just wanted to take a few moments to offer my own words of tribute to my late friend Michael Hodgman, a member of the Order of Australia and one of Her Majesty's counsel learned in the law.

Michael Hodgman gave great service to the people of Tasmania and to the people of Australia in a parliamentary career that began almost half a century ago, in 1966, and ended as recently as 2010. During the course of that career he served in three parliamentary chambers: first in the Tasmanian Legislative Council, then as a member of the House of Representatives and ultimately as a member of the Tasmanian House of Assembly. As a member of the House of Representatives he served as a minister in the Fraser government.

It is hard, in this day and age, quite to grasp the extent of Michael Hodgman's courtly charm, because it was almost of another age. He was a man of rare eloquence, who could just as easily have been imagined as a cavalier in the 17th century or, indeed, as an Elizabethan courtier in the 16th century. The last time I saw him, at the Tasmanian Club a few years ago—we were having a drink, it will not surprise you to learn, Mr Deputy President—I thought to myself, looking at Michael's rather rubicund complexion and engaging him on the issues of the day, 'The founding fathers were probably just like this.' He was a parliamentarian through and through. He was passionate about the causes that he championed. He was a Liberal in the truest and best sense of the word, and a great upholder of traditions. My leader, Senator Abetz, has referred to his passionate commitment to the federal system, to the constitutional monarchy and to the flag. In his very last parliamentary job he sat on his son's opposition front bench as the shadow Attorney-General, and, in a way that only Michael Hodgman could do, he endorsed his business cards, 'Her Majesty's loyal shadow Attorney-General for the state of Tasmania.'

He was, in many ways, to Tasmania, what his great friend and boon companion in the seventies and early eighties, Sir James Killen, was to Queensland. They were very much of a piece. They were the sort of parliamentarians who practiced a political style in which eloquence in the parliamentary chamber was the great value. They were not glib. They did not engage in what are today called sound bites or grabs for the six o'clock news. They addressed the House of Representatives with an eloquence and in the grand manner with which Fox, Sheridan or Burke would have addressed the House of Commons two centuries before. I doubt we will see their like again.

Michael Hodgman was a very great Australian. He was a great friend to all who knew him. It is my privilege to number his son, Will Hodgman, among my friends. In regretting the passing of this extraordinary man, and celebrating such a rich life, I join with Senator Abetz in observing that the best tribute that there could possibly be to the beloved memory of Michael Hodgman would be the election of his son, Will, as the next premier of Tasmania.


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