Page 3767 - Week 13 - Tuesday, 8 November 1994
Tuesday, 8 November 1994
MADAM SPEAKER (Ms McRae) took the chair at 2.30 pm and read the prayer.
DEATH OF DR P. WILENSKI, AC
MS FOLLETT (Chief Minister and Treasurer): Madam Speaker, I move:
That the Assembly expresses its deep regret at the death of Dr Peter Wilenski, AC, who had a distinguished public service and academic career, and tenders its profound sympathy to his wife and children in their bereavement.
It was with much sadness that I learnt of the recent death of Dr Peter Steven Wilenski, AC, at the age of 55. Dr Wilenski had a distinguished public service and academic career and will be remembered for the significant and valuable contributions he made in both of these fields.
Dr Wilenski was born in Poland before the Second World War. His family fled from Poland early in the war, spending time in a Soviet internment camp before coming to Australia. The young Peter Wilenski soon showed his remarkable intellect and gift for academic pursuits. He attended Sydney Boys High and started his university education in 1957 at the medical school of the University of Sydney. It was at university that he became involved in politics. His career as a student politician climaxed in 1963, when he was elected president of the National Union of Australian University Students. Thereafter, he went to Oxford, where he secured first-class honours in politics, philosophy and economics. He joined the then Department of External Affairs and was posted to Saigon and Ottawa. During these years, he took masters degrees at Carleton University in Ottawa and Harvard University in the United States. Dr Wilenski returned to Australia in 1971 and worked in the foreign aid section of the Department of Foreign Affairs before receiving a promotion to Treasury.
In 1972, Dr Wilenski joined Gough Whitlam's staff, becoming his principal private secretary after Mr Whitlam was elected Prime Minister. One of Dr Wilenski's many strong commitments was to equality for women. It is reported that he was a significant influence in the decision to appoint Ms Elizabeth Reid as women's adviser to the new Prime Minister. Following the 1974 election, Dr Wilenski was, briefly, special adviser to the Royal Commission on Australian Government Administration; and, by the end of the year, he was made Secretary-designate to the Department of Labour and Immigration - a position he assumed in 1975.