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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 01 Hansard (Wednesday, 2 December 2020) . . Page.. 23 ..


Beyond his enormous contribution to the Canberra Liberals, Lou was a prominent Canberra businessman whose civic contribution across a variety of fields was staggering. Lou was awarded a knighthood in the Order of Orange Nassau by Her Majesty Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands in 1995, in recognition of his work in enhancing the standing of the Dutch community in Australia. He also received a Medal of the Order of Australia in January 1997 for service to the community and to business and commerce, the ACT Legislative Assembly, the ACT Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and the National Gallery of Australia.

In May 2000 he was awarded l’Ordre Nationale du Merite by the then French President, Jacques Chirac, in recognition of his contribution to the development of relations between France and Australia. In 2001 Lou was awarded a Centenary Medal for voluntary services to the ACT, to the ACT Legislative Assembly and to Dutch-Australian friendship.

My former fellow member for Kurrajong, the late Steve Doszpot, paid tribute to Lou in the Legislative Assembly in 2015 on the occasion of Lou’s 90th birthday. He and Steve were good friends and regular lunch partners, sharing a similar migrant and local business success history. In that birthday tribute, Steve quoted excerpts from Lou’s inaugural speech in 2002, when Lou talked of the need for strong leadership from government and a firm and strong commitment by every member of the community. Those sentiments remain as relevant today as they were then.

A biography of Lou, written in 2005 by Doug Hurst, called Fulfilment and success: the story of Lou Westende—a migrant, highlights his many achievements, his large network of friends and contacts around the world, and his enormous ability to just get things done. In the book’s foreword, written by another great Canberra Liberal, the Hon Margaret Reid, she says she came to know Lou as a passionate man who worked hard for the things he believed in. She wrote:

I know him as a man who is reliable. What he says he will do, he does.

The ACT owes a debt of gratitude to Lou—a great Canberran, a successful businessman, and a strong and consistent supporter of the Canberra Liberals and Liberal values. His was a life well lived and lived well.

A lasting legacy and example of Lou’s connection and contribution to the ACT Legislative Assembly is a bronze sculpture in one of this building’s courtyards, given as a gift to the Assembly in 1992. The sculpture is Boy with a Parrot by John Robinson and it is now a part of the Assembly’s official collection of artworks.

Because of the COVID limitations that are still in place, I am, of course, deeply disappointed that close friends of Lou, former MLA Peter Kobold and his wife, Marjory, and Lou’s family, cannot be present in the gallery today. I know they very much wanted to be. I know, however, that they will be watching this tribute through the Assembly on Demand portal.


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