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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 05 Hansard (Tuesday, 29 May 2007) . . Page.. 1057 ..

Tuesday, 29 May 2007

MR SPEAKER (Mr Berry) took the chair at 10.30 am, made a formal recognition that the Assembly was meeting on the lands of the traditional owners, and asked members to stand in silence and pray or reflect on their responsibilities to the people of the Australian Capital Territory.

Death of Mr Aspi Baria

Motion of condolence

MR STANHOPE (Ginninderra—Chief Minister, Treasurer, Minister for Business and Economic Development, Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Minister for the Environment, Water and Climate Change, Minister for the Arts): I move:

That this Assembly expresses its deep regret at the death of Mr Aspi Baria, technical expert with Actew, who specialised in water management and was recognised for his wholehearted dedication to his job and family, and tenders its profound sympathy to his family, friends and colleagues in their bereavement.

Mr Speaker, it is with sadness and regret that I rise to record my memories of Aspi Baria and to convey to his family and his colleagues at Actew the condolences of the government. For many Canberrans, Aspi Baria was a voice on the radio, the expert rung by the program producers when they needed someone to talk good sense about water. In recent years, as the drought stubbornly persisted beyond the expectations of scientists and beyond the tolerance levels of ordinary folk, there were more frequent early morning calls to Aspi’s mobile phone, more radio interviews, more measured good sense and, unfailingly, good humour and patience. That was the Aspi Baria known to thousands of Canberrans listening to the radio over their cornflakes or when commuting to the office. The warmth, gentleness and knowledge that somehow transmitted themselves over the airwaves were the qualities that impressed those who met him face to face—those who worked with him and those, like me, who relied on his advice, even when I did not like it much. Even medicine was less nasty when delivered by Aspi Baria.

Like so many Canberrans, Aspi arrived in this city from half a world away, and circuitously. He was an accidental, though ultimately a passionate, Canberran. Born in Kenya but raised within a Parsee community, Aspi was educated in England and worked in Papua New Guinea before deciding to settle in Australia and in Canberra. While he was immensely proud of his heritage and cleaved to the Zoroastrian faith of his childhood for his whole life, Aspi was equally proud of his Australian citizenship.

Aspi joined Actew in 1989 as a chartered chemist and spent the rest of his career with the organisation, ending as technical specialist—the public face and the private driving force behind many of Actew’s most original and creative ideas. Day to day, he oversaw the operation and maintenance of Actew’s water and waste water business. He was in charge of water planning, regulation, capital works, licensing and compliance.

It was he who saw the lateral brilliance of the Cotter to Googong transfer scheme. It was he who explained that this innovation, which we all believed would secure our

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