MEMBERS STATEMENT | THE HONOURABLE FIONA RICHARDSON

Mr MELHEM (Western Metropolitan) — I also rise to pay tribute to the Honourable Fiona Richardson. Fiona was one of the stalwarts of the Australian Labor Party. I first met Fiona over 20 years ago. Mr Somyurek, Mr Dalidakis and Ms Mikakos touched on her role in the administrative wing of the Labor Party and the various roles she occupied, particularly when she was the Labor Unity faction secretary. I had the pleasure of working with her for a number of years on that. Thank God she was our faction secretary! I used to feel sorry for the left when Fiona negotiated with them about various issues, because she could be a bit fiery if she believed in something. But there was always that thing in the back of her mind — consensus. She always wanted to get consensus, and that used to drive me nuts. I used to say to Fiona, ‘What happens if we don’t get consensus? We’ve got to make a decision. We’ve got to take a vote’. Her line was consensus. I discovered why: when you do not have the numbers, consensus is a good thing because you do not get done over.

She always balanced the interests of many against the interests of individuals and the few, and she always had the interests of the Labor Party and the greater good in the back of her mind, and that is what really drove Fiona. In some of the internal meetings of the Labor Unity group when we had agreed on something but then we had some dissent when people did not really want to go along with it, they would cop it from Fiona. You just had to look the other way, because you really did not want to cop it from Fiona Richardson. She was very determined, she was very loyal, and if she had given you her loyalty, you knew you had it for life. She used to argue like hell with people who tried to deviate from a particular resolution we had been carried and who tried to change things.

I want to cherish the time I had with Fiona over the years. What Fiona delivered is an inspiration for all the young girls coming through schools and universities. They can look and say — and I think Ms Wooldridge talked about this earlier — ‘A person can make it all the way; a woman can actually make it all the way’. Fiona had no fear whatsoever. She was prepared to execute her argument and her case against big men, powerful men. She had no fear at all. She argued her case. If she came up with an idea, or if it was a group idea, she would not leave a stone unturned until she got the right outcome. What actually drove her, I think, throughout her political life was, ‘What is the right thing to do?’. That drove her whole political career.

I finish off by saying that politicians love to be loved. Some of them are hated, and no‑one wants to be hated. But love Fiona or hate Fiona, you definitely had to respect Fiona. That is very important. If you want to be a successful politician, you would rather be respected. I know some politicians like to be loved and no‑one wants to be hated, but definitely Fiona was respected, not just by the Labor Party but by the Liberal Party, the Greens and all the parties in the Victorian Parliament. That is a great thing for a politician to achieve — to be respected by everyone. That was Fiona Richardson.

Thank you, Fiona, for sharing your life with us. My deepest condolences go to her family. May she rest in peace.

5 September 2017