Mr FERGUSON (Bass – Minister for Health) – Madam Speaker, I too rise to support the motion of the Premier and joined by the Opposition Leader and Mr Booth on behalf of the Greens for those sincerely appreciated comments that I know the family will understand the honour you have accorded for the life of Brian Harradine. Whenever a person of prominence who has served the community passes it is quite right that we honour their life and thank them for their contribution regardless of whether of not their political flavour suited our own. I appreciate those comments.

Senator Brian Harradine – I think those three words tend to roll together. Even though he had retired from the Senate he was so attached to that institution. He was also very attached to the fabric and life of Tasmania. Senator Harradine was one of those principled men who firmly understand the role of the Senate and the role of a senator was reflective of the importance of the state in the federation.

I was an adolescent teenager and then a young man as I became familiar with the work and life of then Senator Brian Harradine. I remember distinctly opening The Examiner and reading about the late Senator’s statements as a champion for Tasmania. I remember he was always concerned at what he saw as the eroding of the Federation and the role of the states, particularly as he saw the rise of the Commonwealth and its additional powers, controls and ability to virtually muscle in on areas that had always been, and should have been, the domain of the states. I remember in the lead-up to premiers’ meetings and when former Prime Minister John Howard instituted the Council of Australian Governments that it was Senator Harradine who warned more than anyone about the power those meetings had to centralise decision making away from the states and parliaments such as this.

As the Premier and others have said, Senator Brian Harradine has a long list of achievements for our state which I will not again canvass today, but I draw attention to that and note that his biggest contribution was to national life. Whether or not one would agree with his particular position, because he took such principled positions with such a depth of conviction, we remember him often best for some of those. He was a champion for families and the family unit. We was also a champion for the most vulnerable, which included in his definition the unborn, the poor, and those who exist on the margins of society.

The Ferguson family always supported Brian Harradine and I make the admission today that when I first had the opportunity to vote as an 18 or 19-year old in 1993, I voted above the line for Senator Harradine. I also put on the record that I am proud to have worked alongside him in the Federal Parliament. He really was an elder statesman of our country and a proud Tasmanian identity. I remember very well when he gave his last speech in the Senate. There was a small, eclectic group of people who gathered there to show support for him. I was one of those, and the admiration that he received from members from all political colours represented in the Senate was something that I doubt will be repeated for many years from now.

The church service, as the Leader of the Opposition said, was very moving. I am personally not very familiar with the Catholic liturgy, although I note that some people sitting behind me were and did a beautiful job of singing some of the songs and I was greatly touched by that. While it was the case that Senator Harradine apparently had requested a low-key funeral service, in respect of the many things that could have been said about his life – and I respect that decision of the family and the late Senator Harradine – I felt sad that more could not have been said about his life and achievements. We instead do that here today and I know in the chatter around Tasmania ever since that sad day, many others will be eulogising him in their own way between friends.

We honour the life of the late Brian Harradine. Let this be just part of the eulogy to mark his passing. I believe he has his great reward right now and on behalf of those Tasmanians I represent, I join this motion in saying “thank you”.

Subscribe to my newsletter

Get the latest news direct from Michael.

Thanks for subscribing