Last week, former Premier and my predecessor as member for South-West Coast, Denis Napthine, received much-deserved recognition in the Queen’s Birthday honours list, being made an officer of the Order of Australia.
Denis’s service in this place is well documented—first elected as member for Portland in 1988 and then as member for South-West Coast from 2002 until 2015. In his 27 years as a member he served as a minister, as Leader of the Opposition and of course as the 47th Premier of Victoria. But during that time it was always his local community that came first.
Denis was there whenever he could be, even when he was Premier, talking and listening to his constituents and fighting for the issues that mattered to them.
I can tell you his shoes were big to fill, but I was so grateful and thankful to Denis for his support and guidance, and I regard Denis as a friend who is always only a phone call away. Even though he is no longer in public office, Denis’s service to the community has not ceased. He is active in many local groups and organisations that aim to make the life of other people better, particularly young people and those with a disability.
I congratulate Denis on the worthy and well-deserved recognition of his service to the community, not only as a member of this place but outside of here as well. I also congratulate his wife, Peggy, and their three sons, Jack, Tom and Edward, for supporting Denis across his time in public life and for sharing him with the South-West Coast community and the Victorian community.