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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 02 Hansard (Tuesday, 20 February 2018) . . Page.. 349 ..

I would like to conclude by simply observing that Joe Baker was a humble man of many distinctions and talents. Both as the Minister for Climate Change and Sustainability and as a Greens MLA, I am saddened by Dr Baker’s passing. On behalf of the ACT Greens, I would like to pass on my condolences to his wife, Valerie, and his four children—Russell, Rohan, Sharyn and Tracey. Tracey is here with us in the public gallery today, and I thank her for being here to mark this moment with us.

MR GENTLEMAN (Brindabella—Minister for Police and Emergency Services, Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Minister for Planning and Land Management and Minister for Urban Renewal) (10.15): We express our deep regret at the death of Dr Joe Baker and we extend our condolences to his wife, Valerie, his four children and his nine grandchildren.

Dr Joe Baker was the first ACT Commissioner for the Environment, a role that he held for a decade. As we have heard, he had a distinguished career as a marine scientist, an international science policy expert, an academic and an environmental administrator before taking up the role of commissioner. Many awards and honours recognised his intellectual commitment to the environment across a range of sectors.

At the end of his school years, it was his intellectual ability, application and personal drive which saw Joe awarded a CSIRO cadetship. He took this up with the University of Queensland in 1950. At the university he explored his interests in chemistry, science and, of course, Rugby League. Joe Baker was a gifted Rugby League player and coach. In the years when he played competitively, he built a reputation for courage, tenacity and fairness. As a coach his team speeches were eagerly anticipated. On one occasion nervous players asked their coach his opinion of the “no sex before a game” rule. “Well, I suggest that you never say no if asked,” he said with a glimmer in his eye. His interest in Rugby League led to an enthusiasm for sports organisation and his ability was recognised in his appointment as a founding member of the Queensland Academy of Sport.

No doubt his sporting interests helped to ground him as he pursued his scientific interests. He regarded it as imperative that the community was involved in all of his environmental science undertakings. As the tributes have poured in, it is very clear that Dr Joe Baker was a man of science and a man of sport, but he was also a man with a deep and abiding commitment to his family. His lifelong partner, Valerie, had been a companion on the marine science journey, and she supported him as he struggled with his debilitating health issues. It was Valerie who made sure Joe spent some of his last hours at the ocean, another of the great loves of his life. Joe Baker will be fondly remembered by all Canberrans.

Question resolved in the affirmative, members standing in their places.


The following petition was lodged for presentation:

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