Joan Kirner was a pioneer. My two daughters, Zoe and Asha, are of a relatively young age and will be blissfully unaware of the pathway that Joan Kirner has forged for both of them. My eldest daughter is very cognisant of the work that Julia Gillard has done on behalf of women, but we need to go further back in the Labor movement to Joan Kirner and the work that she has done. I look forward as my daughters grow older to the opportunities that will be afforded to them, both in the context of the broader society but also potentially within the Labor movement, which is due in no small way — in nearly every way — to the pathway that Joan Kirner pushed through.
Such is the circle of life that the Labor family has had a pretty tough 12 months. The passing of Gough Whitlam, the passing of Lynne Kosky and now the passing of Joan Kirner have left a void in our broader life that cannot be filled. They were, and will remain, three greats of the Labor political movement because they all forged very different roles and provided great opportunities for all of us, especially Joan.
Many in this chamber and outside would be aware of my forestry background and the three and a half years I spent as the chief executive officer of the Victorian Association of Forest Industries. But many people would not be aware that Joan Kirner was widely regarded in the industry as the best Minister for Conservation, Forests and Lands that the forest industry ever saw or ever had. It was because of her ability to work with conservationists, sawmillers and forestry scientists throughout the industry that they had the understanding that in order to be successful they had to work together.
It is no surprise that in nearly every contribution we have heard thus far it has been widely acknowledged that she had the ability to bring people together and forge the pathway, which is the great trail that Joan has left us with. Of course in forestry that is no small feat. It can be, as we have seen at times in this chamber and outside the chamber, an issue that is both passionate and divisive, and yet Joan was able to forge a pathway whereby she brought people together. Everywhere I went I was well reminded that as a former Labor staffer and proud member of the Labor Party I had big shoes to fill in replicating anything that Joan had done throughout the industry.
To Ron and his family who survive Joan I pass on my deepest sympathies and condolences. In the tradition of both my Greek and my Jewish background, I wish them a long life, and I wish Joan’s friends a long life as well. In concluding my contribution in honour of Joan Kirner I note that on hearing of her passing I made the following comment: Joan was a stalwart, a pioneer and a wonderful person. Victoria was better off for knowing her, and now Victoria is poorer for her passing. That is probably the best way to end this contribution. May she rest in peace.