The former Member for Hinkler, Paul Neville, was remembered as an outstanding parliamentarian, friend and storyteller in condolence speeches in the House of Representatives on Wednesday.
Mr Neville died on 1 January 2019 after a long illness.
His successor, Keith Pitt, said Mr Neville loved his entire electorate of Hinkler and the people that he served.
“Paul was a man of regional Queensland, born in Warwick in 1940,” Mr Pitt said.
“He was passionate about the arts. That's probably one of the things people didn't know so much if they didn't know Paul Neville too well.
“He was the manager of the Moncrieff Theatre in Bundaberg, formerly the Crest Cinema. He managed the Bundaberg District Tourism and Development Board.”
Mr Pitt said it was fitting that on Australia Day, sadly after his passing, that Mr Neville was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia.
Deputy Labor Leader, Tanya Plibersek, said Mr Neville “truly was one of the best and most decent people I have served with in this place”.
She said they met through the parliamentary friends of Slovenia friendship group.
“The thing that I liked and respected about Paul so much was the seriousness with which he undertook his role as a parliamentarian, representing the people of his electorate, but also the lightness of touch he had with that seriousness,” Ms Plibersek said.
“He was never anything other than completely dedicated to his work and to his community but, with that, he had a mischievous sense of humour that lightened the touch.”
Old-school country gentleman
Ms Plibersek said she agreed with former Prime Minister John Howard, who said Mr Neville had his finger on the pulse of regional Australia.
“He was an absolutely classic old-school country gentleman,” she said.
Nationals Leader, Michael McCormack, said Mr Neville always put people ahead of politics.
He remembered Mr Neville as a champion of regional communications.
“No telecommunications policy was ever put through the parliament unless it had Paul Neville's imprimatur on it,” Mr McCormack said.
“He certainly made sure there was a better deal for regional Australians when it came to radio, television and print outcomes.
“He made sure that, whether it was commercial television or the ABC, we were looked after in the bush — as far as being able to get the right media message out and to ensure that the message was being received here in Canberra.”
The condolence speeches for Paul Neville occurred on the first opportunity after his passing.