Former premier Robin Gray has become just the 13th person to be awarded life membership of the Liberal Party’s Tasmanian division.
About 100 people attended a function held in honour of Mr Gray at Woolmers Estate at Longford on Sunday, including a number of party luminaries.
Premier Peter Gutwein and his predecessor Will Hodgman delivered speeches, and even ex-premier Ray Groom – who replaced Mr Gray as Liberal leader following a spill motion at a party room meeting in 1991 – was in attendance.
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Tony Rundle was the only surviving Liberal premier who couldn’t be there. He was in Queensland and therefore unable to travel to Tasmania due to COVID-19-related border restrictions.
Other past colleagues of Mr Gray, as well as members of Mr Gutwein’s cabinet, were present to pay tribute to the man who was sometimes known during his heyday as the “Growler”.
Mr Gray was just Tasmania’s second ever Liberal premier when he won power 38 years ago, and the first to govern with a majority.
In office for seven years (1982-89), he remains the state’s third longest-serving premier.
“I was very gratified to receive the honour [of life membership],” Mr Gray said. “They don’t shell many of those out.”
“It was a very pleasant day.
“There was a really positive spirit amongst the parliamentary party members, as well as the organisational wing of the party – which is important to have.”
Liberal Party state president Rod Scurrah said it was a “high honour” for someone to receive life membership, and that it had only been bestowed on 13 Tasmanians since the party’s formation in 1944.
“I’ve been on the [state] executive for twelve years and it’s the [second] consideration that we’ve had of life membership,” Mr Scurrah said.
“It was a very good function that brought together a lot of the history of the party.
“I think Robin really loved it. It was a really good reconnection of the party with Robin.”
Recognising the 75th anniversary of the end of WWII:
Mr Gutwein said Mr Gray’s premiership showed that “Liberal governments get on and deliver – especially when times are tough”.
“There are a couple of things about Robin which, for me, stand out,” Mr Gutwein said. “None more so than his pro-development, pro-jobs agenda that saw our state flourish and succeed.”
“He showed that a Liberal government best understands that a strong economy goes hand in hand with improved social outcomes.
“Becoming a lifetime member [of the party] is an honour offered to few and history will recall his rightful place as a trail-blazing and respected premier.”
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