Ms O'CONNOR (Clark - Leader of the Greens) - Mr Deputy Speaker, I rise on behalf of both Dr Woodruff and myself to express our very sincere condolences to Tony Fletcher's large and grieving family.
Tony Fletcher was a Tasmanian political legend - it is as simple as that. Although he and the Greens did not often veer across the same path, I recognised his heart for people and his commitment to his community. He was a larger-than-life character who left a lasting legacy. When you read the comments of people on Tony's passing you recognise that he was much respected and loved. He is remembered as a true gentleman, a man of great wisdom and, in a beautiful obituary written by Meg Powell, he is described as 'a fearsome political opponent who never failed to stand and fight for his region but beneath his outer crust lay a gentle loving heart'.
As the Premier said Mr Fletcher grew up in the 1930s in Huonville where his parents owned the local bike shop. He was a seventh generation Tasmanian with very little money and an extraordinary amount of determination. His oldest child, Chris, remembers -
He came from a very poor family but it drove him to strive for his best. I think at one stage he had four different jobs on the go. He was prepared to work very hard and it was all for his family.
Chris Fletcher said Tony had met his wife, Margaret, at a dance hall in Hobart in 1954. Mr Fletcher was busy playing football at the time as well as completing his National Service. Chris says,
There is a long story here but needless to say instead of doing his National Service out at Brighton he went AWOL for just a bit so he could see Mum. He wasn't court marshalled but he was severely disciplined.
Tony and Margaret Fletcher had eight children over their 65 years of marriage and managed to pay for them all to go to school in Launceston and Burnie. His daughter, Leanne Poole, remembers her father as an achiever who had done everything he could to make sure his children could achieve. She said at family movie nights he would always be the first to have tears rolling down his cheeks -
He just had a great love for people. He does have this outer crust but with that he has just got this big, beautiful heart.
He will clearly be very sorely missed.
As a political activist, a community activist, I came into contact with Tony Fletcher by abstraction in a way when he was undertaking work on behalf of Gunns Limited to progress the Tamar Valley Pulp Mill. At the time it was well understood that Tony Fletcher, given his long experience in parliament and as a legislator, had more than a hand in drafting the Pulp Mill Assessment Act, which was Labor government legislation at the time. I have no doubt that he did that because he genuinely believed a pulp mill in the Tamar Valley would be good for employment and for people who he cared about. We can vehemently disagree on whether or not it would have been a good thing. Of course the Greens are very happy that the Tamar Valley does not have a pulp mill.
This is a big chapter closing in politas with the passing of Tony Fletcher. I acknowledge his life of service to Tasmanians, but particularly to his Circular Head community and again to pass on our love and condolences to the large, grieving Fletcher family.
Vale Tony Fletcher.