I would like to express my deepest regrets on the passing of the Hon. Peter Walsh AO.
Peter entered Parliament as a Senator for Western Australia in the May 1974 double dissolution and served for four terms before retiring in 1993. He served with distinction as Minister for Resources and Energy (1983 – 1984); Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Public Service Matters (1984 – 1987); and Minister for Finance (1984 – 1990).
In the finance portfolio Peter helped usher in many of the great economic reforms of the Hawke era, including correcting the Commonwealth’s budgetary imbalance, improving support for people on low incomes, extending fee relief to parents of children using private childcare and introducing the Petroleum Resource Rent Tax.
Peter was also involved in the establishment of budgeting over the forward estimates. This important reform ensures openness and transparency in the Commonwealth budgeting process and continues to underpin the economic debate in Australia.
I had the privilege of visiting Peter’s farm in 2008 as Minister for Agriculture. This was no hobby farm. He ran a serious agricultural operation, utilising the latest technology with a deep understanding of world markets.
Even in his retirement Peter maintained his passion for economic and fiscal policy reform, taking the opportunity to lobby me on the deregulation of the wheat industry and the use of genetically modified crops.
Upon his retirement from Cabinet in April 1990,The Australian ran the headline “The man who made Keating look soft”. It must not be forgotten the fiscal discipline from Peter Walsh was always underpinned by a fierce determination to deliver priorities for those who needed help most. His commitment to responsible savings and eliminating wasteful expenditure lay at the heart of his commitment to a Labor agenda.
I offer the Walsh family my sincere condolences at this time.