Tuesday 25 June 2013


Hansard of the Legislative Council






Mr FINCH (Rosevears) - Mr President, I want to make a couple of reflections on Michael Hodgman.  When I first came to parliament 11 years ago, he was the one who was most welcoming to me here in the House. I had dealt with him a couple of times in my previous career with the ABC so we knew each other. He made me feel very welcome and it was pleasing to reacquaint myself with him when I came down here.  It was sad to watch his slow demise as a parliamentarian here with emphysema, which is not a good journey.  My dad died of emphysema so I know the journey and it was not a good one, particularly to see someone as gregarious, outgoing and ebullient as Michael Hodgman to suffer that fate.


Michael Hodgman began his parliamentary career here, in this House, in 1966.  The civilising influence of this House equipped him well for his further endeavours in other lower places. Not many of us would contemplate that move - some might be at the moment, I don't know - but Michael Hodgman made that move to federal politics and made it successfully with a very long parliamentary career which helped make him even better known.


I would argue that the other side of Michael Hodgman's character that formed as a Queen's Counsel defending ordinary people perhaps contributed even more to his popularity. It certainly gave him a deep understanding of that different part of our community and contributed to his demonstrable sense of compassion towards people from all walks of life.  I believe that Michael Hodgman's two careers as a parliamentarian and as a senior barrister were the keys to his personality that made him so well loved in Tasmania.


In many ways he was a conservative and a traditionalist but he was as equally at home, as was described to me, in the Navy Club or at Knopwood's bar.  He had an expression of 'Kick Labor up the bracket'. I reckon if he was in Knopwoods bar, he would say 'Kick Labor up the bum'.


There were two elements to his character.  I was talking recently with the former member for Launceston, Don Wing, about Michael Hodgman. I know Mr Wing is in Melbourne and I called this morning to talk about some reflections that he might have and I wish to share those with you. He described Michael Hodgman as 'a wonderful orator and prone to using extravagant language'. Don and Michael studied the same year at university and were friends up until his death.


Don recalled that Michael did some remarkable work during the 1967 bushfires and he endeared himself very much to the Tasmanian community through that.  In 1974 Don approached him to stand federally for the Liberal Party.  He related to me that Michael did not want to stand for Franklin, where he had done so much of his good work, but preferred to stand for Denison.  Then Bruce Goodluck was approached to stand for Franklin and both were elected and became that very high-profile duo that we loved, representing Tasmania.  As with anything with Michael Hodgman, he represented us with passion and pride, and the member for Huon used the words 'he was a warrior' for the interests of Tasmanians as a whole.


He was always a very cheerful and good person, treating everybody as equal.  He was always prepared to give help to those who sought it.


These are Don Wing's reflections: he was eloquent and a great advocate, readily accessible to his constituents.  Don recalled a couple of amusing anecdotes, and the member for Windermere might recall this story.  When he was cross-examining a witness whom he was satisfied was lying, he said, 'Witness, do you know what happens to people who lie on oath?' and the witness replied, 'Yes, you go to hell'.  Michael said, 'Ah, yes, but you go via Risdon Prison'.


Michael was in the Naval Reserve and he was in parliament once resplendent in his white naval uniform.  He was in the corridors of the Legislative Council and he ran into the late George Brookes. George said in amazement, 'Good God, Michael, is this a fancy dress party or are we at war?'


Don Wing last saw Michael five weeks ago when he visited Vaucluse Manor.  His condition was serious and Michael hoped that he could live until his son, Will, became premier.  He said he wished the election could be held earlier.  Sadly, he did not make it but Don knows that in spirit he will be with Will every step of the way at the next state election and when he becomes premier.


Don says he was a decent bloke and people always talked about his magnificent qualities, flamboyant at times, and did not shun publicity and was very entertaining.


This morning, thinking about Michael's involvement in boxing - I am not sure whether he was a referee –


Dr Goodwin - He was a referee but also an undefeated amateur boxer.


Mr FINCH - I sent a message to our most famous boxing identity, Daniel Geale, this morning and he sent a message back to say -

I was extremely sad to hear of the passing of Michael. He was a great guy in boxing. I first remember Michael when I was about 14 -

and this will ring true with you -

He gave me so much advice and encouraged me in and out of the ring.


That was Daniel Geale's recollection of Michael Hodgman. He has touched people from all walks of life right across the community.


Mr President, I also pass on my condolences to Will and to all the family of Michael Hodgman.