The Hon. Alan John Hunt, AM

Ms GRALEY (Narre Warren South) — On behalf of the people of Narre Warren South I rise to support the condolence motion for the Honourable Alan John Hunt, AM. I speak also for the many friends, associates and community members whom I know and care for on the Mornington Peninsula. 

Alan Hunt passed away on 19 July 2013, aged 85. The funeral service was held at the Peninsula Community Theatre, previously Findlay Hall, the former school hall of Mornington Secondary College. Alan served as a member for South Eastern Province in the Legislative Council for 31 years. He was a minister in the Bolte, Hamer and Thompson governments. As the Minister of Education from May 1979 to April 1982, Alan was especially dedicated to the building of school halls. He saw their value, so it was most fitting that we celebrated his life in a school hall that was saved from a government sell-off
to developers and is still in community use today. He would have loved that his farewell took place in a valued school hall.

Alan’s son Greg, the member for Flinders in the House of Representatives, said his father had a grand life. Alan lived his life well and to the full, and he had no regrets. Alan Hunt embraced all that is good in life. He loved art, poetry, traditions, music, literature and political philosophy. He did like John Stuart Mill. He loved a long session of discussion
about ideas and ideals. He loved nothing better than espousing his beliefs — the rights of individuals and the responsibility of duty. He was a liberal Liberal. He was a fine orator and a master of persuasion, and if it were over a drink or two or three or four, all the better; he could talk and drink you under the table. He loved nature and was championing the value of the environment and principles of conservation before it was fashionable to do so. His commitment to developing and ruthlessly guarding the green wedges of  elbourne, in particular on the Mornington Peninsula, is something every Victorian should be
deeply grateful for.

I witnessed Alan speaking about planning and the peninsula one Sunday afternoon over a decade ago, in the old historic post office, as a guest of honour of the Mornington Historical Society. He was always the Minister for Planning. On show he exhibited an encyclopaedic knowledge of how important decisions to create Melbourne’s green wedges had come about.

He told a tale about disagreements with members of his own political party who had a plan for the Mornington Peninsula to become the Ruhr Valley of Victoria. He told of the fights and battles to make sure that ugly and dirty vision did not happen. He recited with relief and pride how disaster had been averted, but he reminded us all — and we still need to be
cautioned, especially those of us here today in this place — that we need to keep a weather eye on that special place, Alan’s home, the beautiful Mornington Peninsula, and also on our green wedges, the lungs of Melbourne, which are especially valuable for those making a new home in Melbourne’s outer suburbs.

Alan Hunt experienced the ups and downs of political life, but to his credit there were many, many more ups than downs. As the Premier said, Alan had an outstanding parliamentary career. Nothing mattered more to him than his reputation, so even during the worst of political times when Liberal Party luminaries were engulfed in the Mornington Peninsula land scandals, Alan Hunt defended his reputation and won. After being in Parliament for 25 years Alan’s advice to his younger colleagues was that the
most important thing they had to learn was humility — that their own personal views took fourth place after the electorate, the state and the party; wise words indeed.

He had the tastes and enjoyed the pursuits of a Renaissance man, so of course Alan Hunt also enjoyed female company. He was married three times. He was in a loving partnership with Leila until his death. I know they thought each other marvellous — they told me so. I often bumped into Alan on a Saturday morning in Main Street.

He was always up for a chat — who was doing what, juicy preselection news, something he had read, and I must too or some sage advice and compliments. I enjoyed our conversations. He was a gifted and engaging conversationalist who made one feel good about one’s deeds and oneself. A man of accomplishment who had a way with words, he was an expert flatterer. During our discourses there was always a bunch of red roses in his
arms for his much-loved partner. He was a true romantic. A poem by Robert Burns was read at his funeral:

O my Luve’s like a red, red rose

That’s newly sprung in June;

O my Luve’s like the melodie

That’s sweetly play’d in tune.

His was a life lived in tune. He shared with others, including me and my fellow councillors at the Mornington Peninsula Shire, the 10 lessons he had learnt from public life. They were: one, service is key, not personal ambition; two, become a true professional by setting
objectives; three, listen rather than talk; four, do not judge others or criticise them; five, where disagreements exist, look for common ground; six, honesty and integrity are paramount; seven, if you cannot return the favour, do not accept it in the first place; eight, build relationships and friendships, do not forget small gestures; nine, build bridges to your doubters and opponents; and ten, jealously guard your reputation for integrity,
professionalism and loyalty.

When Labor Premier Steve Bracks appointed Alan to the important committee to advise on the reform of the Legislative Council, Steve Bracks knew what the Liberal Alan Hunt stood for: his own 10 commandments.

I will conclude by telling a story in public for the first time that only a handful of people know. I wanted to be mayor. The late David Collings, a friend and colleague of Alan Hunt, also wanted to be mayor. Unbeknown to me, David Collings visited Alan to get his advice — to plot. Alan’s counsel to David was that he support me. David exclaimed, ‘But she’s Labor’ to which Alan replied, ‘There have been three mayors named David. It is time for a woman, and she is the best person’. And so it was David, David, David, Judith — and then David got a turn. I will always be grateful to Alan Hunt for helping me into one of the most satisfying, rich and memorable experiences of my life.

A commitment to building relationships, even with doubters and opponents, and to finding common ground were not just words for Alan Hunt.

He practised what he so eloquently preached. I am pleased to put my heartfelt thanks on the record.

I extend condolences to Leila Haywood and to the Hunt family, especially Greg Hunt, the federal member for Flinders, on my own behalf and on behalf of my family, the people I represent in this house and the people I know well from the Mornington Peninsula. From the Dying Speech of an Old Philosopher:

Nature I loved, and, next to Nature, Art:

I warm’d both hands before the fire of Life;

It sinks; and I am ready to depart

Alan had a long love affair with life, a grand life.

Vale the Honourable Alan John Hunt, AM.