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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 01 Hansard (Wednesday, 2 December 2020) . . Page.. 24 ..


Our thoughts and prayers are with Lou’s wife, Mandy; his children and their partners—Dave and Tracey, Tim and Leesa, Karen and David; and his grandchildren and great grandchildren—Tiffany, Gemma, Lana, Jarrah, Reilly and Andy; as well as his many friends and family.

MR RATTENBURY (Kurrajong) (10.11): On behalf of the ACT Greens, I join my Assembly colleagues in expressing my condolences on the death of former ACT Legislative Assembly MLA Mr Lou Westende, who died in August this year at the age of 94.

While I have now been in this place for a while myself, Mr Westende’s political career started and finished long before I was elected; in fact, he was elected even before the ACT Greens Party itself had been formed. Thus I do not have any personal knowledge of him, and I also did not watch the activities of the Second Assembly that closely, still being at university myself at the time. I reflect on the different time in the Assembly that that must have been, back in 1992 to 1994. The Assembly was not yet in this building and was meeting in offices across the road, in Nara House.

Mr Lou Westende, or Laurus, as he was named, was born in the Netherlands in 1925. His story is an inspirational one—a child of the Depression, a migrant who developed a successful business, who contributed to our community in many ways, but particularly through Rotary, and ended up in the ACT Legislative Assembly in 1992.

Mr Westende, who lived through the German occupation during the Second World War, joined the Netherlands marines, where he spent some years in Indonesia. He came to Australia after the war, at a time when many Europeans were migrating to Australia. This proud Canberran, like many who emigrated to this city, owned his own business and served the local community faithfully. Mr Westende is remembered not only for his great business intellect but for his generosity and dedication to ensuring that workers had greater rights.

In 1994 Mr Westende’s small family business was the first to lodge a non-union enterprise bargaining agreement with the Australian Industrial Relations Commission. Mr Westende’s company, IOF Modular Offices Manufacturing, applied for an enterprise agreement that would give his 20 manufacturing workers an extra $15 a week while working an hour less each week. Despite being warned that it was too difficult or that there were too many hoops to jump through to lodge the agreement with the AIRC, Mr Westende fought for what was right for his staff and for his community.

In 2015 former MLA Steve Doszpot gave a speech in this place about Mr Westende for his 90th birthday, as Ms Lee noted, and that is when I learned about the many titles behind his name—OAM, RON and ONM. He was awarded a knighthood 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. In May 2000 he was awarded l’Ordre Nationale du Merite by the President of the French Republic, in recognition of his devotion to France and his contribution to the development of relations between France and Australia. In 2001 he was awarded a Centenary Medal


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