TRIBUTES to the life's work of former Deputy Prime Minister and National Party leader Tim Fischer, 73, have been flowing in from all quarters of Australian society. Mr Fischer passed away in Albury on August 22 from complications brought on by his long-running battle with acute leaukaemia.
Mr Fischer was one of Australia's great 'do-ers' in politics, championing major infrastructure projects to benefit rural Australia and he was a prime mover in promoting and achieving Inland Rail. The Vietnam veteran has been highly acclaimed for his work with former Prime Minister John Howard in bringing through Australia's world-acclaimed gun buyback scheme in the wake of the Port Arthur massacre.
Mr Howard acknowledged how hard this feat was for Mr Fischer across rural Australia and on national radio yesterday called him "heroic".
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said, "Tim Fischer was a big Australian in every sense of the word. Big in stature, big in his belief, big in his passion, big in his vision for what Australians could achieve and big in his view of Australia’s place in the world. As a result, Tim Fischer will forever cast a big shadow on our nation."
Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman, Kate Carnell said Mr Fischer was "a great Australian and a champion of small business".
"The former Deputy Prime Minister was passionate about rural and regional Australia and rarely gave a speech without telling a story about a local business that was doing amazing things," Ms Carnell said. "Who could forget his support for Australian brands like Mick’s Whips?
"He had a tremendous political career and should be remembered for his significant contribution to Australian public life. Tim Fischer walked his own path with honesty and humility and that is what Australians loved about him."
Tim Fischer served as Deputy Prime Minister from March 1996 to July 1999 and led the federal parliamentary National Party for more than nine years. A former NSW state MP, he was elected to the southern central NSW federal seat of Farrer in 1984 and re-elected five times before retiring in 2001.
"Mr Fischer, who served as Trade Minister in the Howard Government, was esteemed by his Coalition colleagues, respected by his opponents and loved by Australians everywhere as he travelled the country in his trademark Akubra hat," Prime Minister Morrison said
"He was an all in conviction politician. This integrity and resolve were underlined when he stood firm with Prime Minister Howard on tough new gun laws following the Port Arthur massacre in 1996. They are Tim Fischer’s gun laws too.
"Gun laws were not popular in regional Australia in 1996 and Tim Fischer took to the highways and byways to persuade and convince regional Australians about the need for change. I believe this was his finest moment. Australia will always be in his debt," he said.
"Before entering parliament, Tim Fischer served as an Australian Army Officer in Vietnam. As a parliamentarian, he always demonstrated a deep loyalty and affection to service personnel and veterans.
"Later in life, he was chairman of Tourism Australia where I had the privilege to serve with him," Mr Morison said. "Tim also served as national chair of the Royal Flying Doctor Service. From 2009-12, he served as Australia’s first resident Ambassador to the Holy See. Tim Fischer also wrote several books, including a number of books about trains – one of his great passions.
"My government will be offering Tim's family a state funeral to celebrate his life and extraordinary contribution to Australia."