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Condolence Motion – Andrew Paul Harriss

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Tuesday, 25 October 2022

Tags: Condolence

Ms O'CONNOR (Clark - Leader of the Greens) - Mr Speaker, on behalf of the Tasmanian Greens, I express sincere condolences to all who knew and loved Paul Harriss. I note he will be grieved by his children and their partners, Mel, Jaclyn, Dean, Ange, Adam, Matt, Belinda and Daniel. He left behind a swag of loving grandchildren: Austin, Ben, Will, Meea, Brady, Ruby, Lyla, Harvey, Sage, Ayla and Henry.

I also note that Paul Harriss was well loved by a wide circle of friends in politics and also within his local community. He was well loved by his family and friends.

I recognise a long life of service, from local government to the Legislative Council to the House of Assembly and also, when you have a look at his CV, in so many community organisations Paul Harriss was there showing leadership but also in a humble way representing voices in his community.

I am thankful, as someone who is a proud advocate for the rights of LGBTIQ+ people, that it was Paul Harriss' vote, along with the then member for Pembroke, Peter McKay, that helped to bring this state's laws into the twentieth century and become the last Australian state, at last, to decriminalise homosexuality.

Mr Speaker, I would be disingenuous if I did not acknowledge the fact that Paul Harriss did not like the Greens as a party and he did not like what we stood for. On a personal level, one on one, Paul Harriss was a very personable person but when he was elected to the House of Assembly he introduced the legislation that tore up the Tasmanian Forest Agreement. Thankfully, there are still 170 000 hectares that have been added to the World Heritage Area and 356 000 hectares which the loggers are still out of. Mr Harriss introduced the first anti protest bill to come into the parliament shortly after his election as the member for Pembroke. We clearly had very different views on how to best serve this island and its people but in a democracy, you need diversity. You need a contest of ideas and that is a good thing.

For his toughest battle, Paul Harriss stood up and gave a very strong message to men to get tested for prostate cancer. His statement on the Cancer Council website in November last year was a message for all men in Tasmania: don't be ignorant, take the test. Paul made a promise to himself to regularly get the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test every year. When a blip appeared on the test in April 2019, the doctor ordered him to get another test three months later. Instead, Paul waited seven months to follow up. Life does often get in the way, and important appointments, particularly if you have a busy community life, are the sort of thing that can get put aside. Unfortunately for Paul, the cancer had progressed and metastasised. His message, which was a gutsy message, is that if he had gone for the test in July 2019, who knows what might have happened. Whatever the suggested age to have the PSA test, talk to your GP and have the blood test. It is once a year, a little needle, do not be complacent, do not be ignorant, just do it.

Paul Harriss was only young when he died. He was 68, which is an age at which he should have been able to spend a lot more time with his children and grandchildren. I am sure the depth of their loss is enormous. Again, on behalf of the Greens, I acknowledge the life of public service of our former colleague Paul Harriss and pass on my warmest condolences to his large extended family and to all his friends who are feeling that loss right now.

Vale Paul Harriss.