Condolence speech for Hon Ian Robinson, 27/03/2017

Minister Scullion’s condolence speech for Hon Ian Robinson, 27/03/2017

I rise to associate the Nationals with this motion and offer my condolences to the family and friends of the late Hon. Ian Louis Robinson who passed away last Thursday at the age of 91. Mr Robinson was born in 1925 in the northern New South Wales town of Coraki, and it was here that his guiding values for and understanding of regional living were instilled. Mr Robinson’s upbringing contributed to his well-rounded and resilient character which, in turn, drove him to commit so much of his life to public life and improving outcomes for regional Australia.

Mr Robinson became involved in public life from quite an early age, becoming a member of the Rural Youth Movement and the Agricultural Bureau, as well as a youth member of the Country Party—the founding party of what is today the National Party, representing regional interests. From there he moved into roles including becoming secretary of his local Country Party branch, a member of the electorate council executive and a representative delegate to the NSW State Conference and Central Council. In these roles, Mr Robinson developed his political skills, a fine representative of regional constituent issues.

Mr Robinson grew up on the property held by his grandfather since the early 1870s and owned a family-run dairy farm. Before entering politics he spent time as both a journalist and a company director. It was experience beyond the oft-trod path of just being a political staffer. There is a lack of experience that I suspect infects those coming to this place since that time. He was a hardworking man who was determined to change things for the better. In regional and rural Australia, the compliment of being a ‘hardworking man’ is about as high as it gets, and it is really a terrific descriptor of Ian. He was elected to the New South Wales legislative assembly for the seat of Casino in 1953. He held that until 1963, when he contested the federal electorate of Cowper. Mr Robinson successfully regained Cowper and contributed to the Menzies-McEwen government’s record majority government of the time.

Joining the House of Representatives chamber with a confident understanding of how parliament worked, Mr Robinson outlined his interests in resolving the uncertainty between state and Commonwealth responsibilities to ensure a workable system where states accept more responsibility for financial relations with the Commonwealth.I have to say that I am not sure that we have got that completely sorted. It is something that we continue to grapple with in this place today. Mr Robinson in his first speech said:

No matter how sound the policy of a government may be, it is nullified unless there is cohesion between various tiers of government in the country.

He was one of those men who actually ensured that, with every policy, there was an implementation plan to ensure that all of the jurisdictions held up to their particular part of the bargain He then went on to praise the government’s investment in primary industry and its tremendous contribution to regional electorates. I am confident that Mr Robinson would be also pleased with my party’s and, in fact, parliament’s continued investments in the interests of regional citizens.

From 1963, Mr Robinson actively represented the interests of constituents in the electorate of Cowper at a federal level and fulfilled the role as Assistant Minister assisting the Postmaster-General, Alan Hulme, from 1971 to 1972. Mr Robinson continued to represent the interests of Cowper residents until 1984 when, as a result of the electoral boundary redistribution, he transferred to the new seat of Page. Mr Robinson said:

The only way to look fairly and squarely at the development needs is to ensure that representation in the
Parliament provides a practical means of bringing into the Parliament the views and the requests of the people
in the far flung corners of the Commonwealth.

Mr Robinson’s values continue in the practices of the National Party today. We are proud to represent regional, rural and remote interests in this place.

An active member of so many parliamentary committees and a strong public speaker, Mr Robinson was an esteemed spokesperson for the National Party, standing and winning 13 elections, one of which was unopposed due to his renowned strength in representing his rural constituents. Serving in federal parliament until 1990, Mr Robinson had a distinguished career spanning 37 years—10 in the New South Wales state parliament and 27 in the Commonwealth parliament—and proudly stands as one of Australia’s longest-serving politicians. Regional and rural Australia is much the better for Mr Robinson’s contribution to the nation and our National Party.

We thank him for his remarkable service and advocacy for regional Australia. Our sincere condolences go to Mr Robinson’s wife Florence, his family and friends. We are the luckier for him having lived. Vale the most honourable Ian Louis Robinson.