Senate debates

Wednesday, 13 March 2013


Archer, Former Senator Brian Roper

3:32 pm

Photo of John HoggJohn Hogg (President) Share this | | Hansard source

It is with deep regret that I inform the Senate of the death on 10 March 2013 of Brian Roper Archer, a senator from Tasmania for the period 1975 to 1994.

3:33 pm

Photo of Stephen ConroyStephen Conroy (Victoria, Australian Labor Party, Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy) Share this | | Hansard source

by leave—I move:

That the Senate records its deep regret at the death, on 10 March 2013, of Brian Roper Archer, former senator for Tasmania, places on record its appreciation of his long and meritorious public service and tenders its profound sympathy to his family in their bereavement.

Brian was born on 21 August 1929 at Calder, Tasmania. Before entering parliament, Brian was a real estate consultant and a farmer. He was elected to the Senate in July 1975 and served until his resignation in January 1994, when his replacement was Senator Abetz. Brian Archer was an active and engaged member of numerous committees throughout his near 20-year service to the Senate, chairing several of these committees. Brian was also a parliamentary representative to many conferences, delegations and visits. For a period in the mid-1980s, Brian also served as the shadow special minister of state and spokesman on science in Mr Howard's shadow ministries.

Before he was elected to the Senate, Brian had a background as a real estate consultant and a cattle breeder, well known for developing the limousin breed of cattle on his farm in Northern Tasmania. Brian's knowledge of farming, cattle breeding and fishing informed his work in the Senate. Always the advocate for Tasmania and all things Tasmanian, Brian's ongoing support of the resources and primary industries sectors of Tasmania remained central to his work in the Senate. I am sure that Brian was immensely proud of the development in recent years of Tasmania's reputation for fine foods and especially for the development of the dairy, farmed fish, wine and fresh fruit and vegetable industries.

Brian was known as a quiet achiever for his productive work as a senator. He was also respected and admired by his colleagues for the support he gave to them. Brian regarded the Senate as the more civilised of the two chambers of this parliament, and I am sure that is a view shared by all present. His attitude was that senators represented their respective states. On several occasions, he crossed the floor to vote with the ALP on issues, yet he was also a strong supporter of the role of the Senate in scrutinising policy legislation, and his considerable contribution to committee work was widely recognised by all on his retirement. On behalf of the government, I offer condolences to his family.

3:35 pm

Photo of Eric AbetzEric Abetz (Tasmania, Liberal Party, Shadow Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations) Share this | | Hansard source

Tasmanians lost a fine man with the passing of Brian Roper Archer on 10 March. On behalf of the coalition, I salute his service to the nation. On the behalf of my Tasmanian Liberal Senate team colleagues, Senators Colbeck, Parry and Bushby, I salute the service of Brian Archer to his state of Tasmania and to his beloved north-west coast. I believe it is a wonderful gesture that you now, Mr Deputy President, are in the chair, as a person who came from the same area of Tasmania as former Senator Archer. I also note that you will be representing the Tasmanian Senate Liberal team, and more importantly the President, at Brian Archer's funeral service tomorrow. Brian Archer was a passionate Tasmanian, noting in his first speech he was a Tasmanian by birth, by inclination and by conviction. And of course, on top of all that he was a north-west coaster. He epitomised the north-west coast; not only was he born there, lived there, raised a family there, established a highly reputable real estate firm and a farm, he also believed in those north-west values of hard work and reward for effort. He loved the productive sectors of our economy. His first speech to this place some 37 years ago covered apples, small fruits, potatoes, dairying, beef, sheep, goats and horses, vegetables, mining, fishing and forestry. There was one oversight—and that was a hobby that my father and I engaged in for some years—namely, beekeeping. But, he did make up for that in his later parliamentary activities with a press release in 1989 discussing the issues faced by beekeepers.

Brian Archer served as a senator for three full terms or 18 years. His committee work covers a full half page of his biographical details provided by the parliamentary library. He was hardworking. He was a great help to new senators, something former Senator Kay Patterson noted in the valedictories to Senator Archer—which, might I add, he did not want. He was a man of principle and, to correct Senator Conroy, he did not cross the floor several times; he crossed the floor 14 times. He was a shadow minister in the areas of science and special minister of state. Despite that distinguished record his entry into politics was in a way accidental. Do not get me wrong; he was a committed Liberal, committed to the philosophy of private enterprise and reward for effort, but he was sufficiently involved in the Liberal party to be approached with a task of searching out a suitable senate candidate. In the end, he had to draft himself. He was swept into the Senate in 1975 double dissolution election at which the Whitlam experiment was judged as a dismal failure by the people of Australia and especially the people of Tasmania, whose verdict was to return every House of Representatives seat to the Liberals—how I look forward to that occurring again sometime!—and, of course, a new Senator Archer.

So began his 18 years of advocacy for the productive sectors of our economy. His legacy of support for the productive sector should not be lost on us today, and we should remember the importance of that sector in sustaining our economy and our lifestyle. His manner was always mild and professional and self-effacing. I understand he might have a record that he was never requested to withdraw a comment in the Senate. The most aggressive statement in the media attributed to Senator Archer that I could find was when he described Gorbachev as 'ruthless' in 1991. The house magazine in its edition of 23 February 1994, commenting on Brian Archer's retirement, said after referring to his extensive and distinguished parliamentary career, 'Brian Archer is free to revive his interests in breeding and judging budgies, daffodils, poppies, cows and sheep'—clearly a man of great variety of interests. On retiring, Senator Archer—and this is a great self-summary of the man—in his media statement simply said, 'I look forward to being just Brian Archer again, being home much more and spending time with my children and grandchildren.' I am delighted that he was given about 15 years for exactly that, noting that in recent times he was afflicted with serious ill-health, necessitating his move to a nursing home. It is a honour on behalf of the coalition and especially the Tasmanian Liberal Senate team to pay this tribute to such a wonderful Tasmanian. I am also sure that former senators Calvert, Watson, Walters, Newman and Townley would also wish to be associated with these remarks. On behalf of the coalition I extend our sincere condolences to Brian Archer's widow, Dorothy, their children and grandchildren.

3:42 pm

Photo of Stephen ParryStephen Parry (Tasmania, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I ask honourable senators to stand in silence to signify their assent to the motion.

Honourable senators having stood in their places—

I thank the Senate.