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Speaking in 1979, Dame Pattie said that Canberra residents had an obligation to correct those who said that Canberra was a city without a soul. It was, she insisted, a beautiful city created by men and women who had laboured with love and care to build it, to make the lake, and to plant the gardens and the trees. We all know that this is so. She returned to Canberra from Melbourne in 1992 to be closer to her daughter and continued to play an active role in public life, including her participation in celebrations marking the fiftieth anniversary of the Liberal Party last year.
Dame Pattie's passing has left a mark on all of us. Her life was lived through two world wars, the Great Depression and the postwar reconstruction of Australia. Dame Pattie was known and admired by people from every age group. Just as we paused and reflected this year on the events celebrating “Australia Remembers”, Dame Pattie's passing has also caused us to pause and reflect on the passage of our nation in this twentieth century and the legacy that one woman left.
After Dame Pattie’s move back to Canberra, I was fortunate, as many of my colleagues were, to develop a personal friendship with her. I enjoyed her warmth and grace and admired her great wisdom. Aside from our politics and our personal rapport, we had another common link. When Sir Robert travelled, Dame Pattie accompanied him with a full bag of reliable Australian pharmaceuticals to cater for every possible malady or discomfort. I must say that I can relate to this aspect of her personality.
Dame Pattie outlived her husband, Sir Robert, and her two sons, Kenneth and Ian. She is survived by her daughter, Heather. Many tributes have been paid to Dame Pattie since her death on Wednesday, 30 August. On behalf of the ACT Government and the people of Canberra, I would like to acknowledge Dame Pattie's valuable contribution to her country, to its people and to our community here in the ACT. Mr Speaker, I am sure that all members join me in expressing our sympathy to Dame Pattie's family and friends.
MS FOLLETT (Leader of the Opposition): The Opposition supports the Government in this motion of condolence on the death of Dame Pattie Menzies. I need hardly point to the political and philosophical differences between my party and Dame Pattie. She was quite clearly a Liberal to her backbone and proud of it. She was, and was known to be, no great admirer of the Labor Party's policies or, indeed, representatives. But, those differences aside, like all Australians, I certainly found a great deal to like and admire about Dame Pattie Menzies. Growing up in Canberra in the 1950s and 1960s - the Menzies era, if you will - I saw a great deal of Dame Pattie in her public life and in some of her more private moments, as Canberra was a very small town in those days.
As we know, Dame Pattie was able to combine her twin roles with extraordinary success. She fulfilled her role as the wife of the Prime Minister of the day to the full, always with the utmost grace and dignity. She was a true adornment to Sir Robert Menzies. She combined that role with her role as a mother and as a leader within her own family. I believe that the success that she was able to demonstrate in those two roles probably would have earned her the respect, the admiration and the liking of a great many people. The fact that she was able to expand on those roles and also play a very active, dominant role in so many aspects of social welfare, I thought, was truly remarkable and the sign of a woman of quite extraordinary talent, energy, strength and determination.