***CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY***
I understand that Wal Fife was, in many respects, an uncomplicated man.
Unpretentious, unflappable and largely unchanged by the cares and burdens of public office.
As he put it when he left this place in 1993, ending 36 years as a State and then Federal MP: “I walked through the minefield and came out unscathed.”
I counted up the number of elections those 36 years covered - he won 14 elections that he contested, that is a significant achievement.
Wal held a number of ministries in both the New South Wales and federal parliaments – but his first priority was always his community.
He prided himself on being a visible, available and conscientious local MP. And it’s a credit to him that even a quarter-century after he left this place, the tributes at his funeral in Wagga still spoke of his generosity with his time and his presence.
As we've heard, Wal always had a consuming passion for politics – as a child, he would create a home-made ballot box, counting the votes cast by his Mother and Father.
It’s no surprise that he was only 28 he was first elected as the state member for Wagga Wagga, at the time, he was the youngest person elected to New South Wales parliament. And yet that was his third attempt for a seat.
I think it’s fair to say it would mean a great deal to him that today, the Parliament pauses on the threshold of Question Time to remember him and honour him.
It is a privilege to serve in this place – hard-fought and hard-won. Wal Fife knew this and he honoured it, for many years.
Our condolences to his family, may he rest in peace.