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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 4 Hansard (9 April) . . Page.. 799 ..

MS TUCKER (continuing):

One would imagine Neil would have continued to have worked around the world and here. We were looking forward to more neon signs and more constructions and fine interpretations of our human social space.

It is a great loss to community of the present and the future when someone of Neil's grace and stature is stolen away by an accidental or careless or simply luckless moment. One can slip into hyperbole quite easily when someone dies, but in this case I have no doubt that our world is a smaller, poorer place without Neil. To his many, many friends and to his family and his dearly loved wife and partner, Barbara, I offer my profound sympathy.

The words I have just spoken were written by Roland Manderson who, as members here would be aware, works with me in my office. I want to acknowledge that he wrote those very beautiful words. As members would also be aware, Ronald has had a long connection with the arts community. There has been a lot of personal loss in that community over the last year with the loss of Bob Beatty and David Branson. I sincerely hope that we do not have to stand in support of a similar condolence motion again.

MR QUINLAN (Treasurer, Minister for Economic Development, Business and Tourism, Minister for Sport, Racing and Gaming and Minister for Police, Emergency Services and Corrections): Mr Speaker, I will be fairly brief. For my sins, I have to confess that with what is now Actew I once commenced a marketing function to sponsor Floriade in its early days. I had a personal concern about the sterility of Canberra, which was a feature and a centrepiece of much of the Canberra bashing that has taken place over the years. So as part of that sponsorship of Floriade we conducted a sculpture contest. That sculpture contest was won, quite easily I have to say, by one Neil Roberts, who constructed the magnificent feature across the ponds at Commonwealth Park.

I met Neil Roberts a few times as a consequence of that, and later. I was infected by his sense of humour and his capacity to see things very clearly, which artists often can do more than we can. Neil Roberts will be remembered for his great contribution to breaking down the sterile image of our city, and it is fortunate, at least, that his contribution to the breaking down of that sterile image lives beyond him. I commend the motion.

MS DUNDAS: Mr Speaker, on behalf of the Australian Democrats, I rise today to add our condolences on the tragic death of Neil Roberts. I would also like to echo the closing sentiments of Kerrie Tucker-I thought they were really important-about what a trying time recent months have been for the people of the arts community.

Neil offered more than just his works to the arts community. He was a mentor to younger artists and his contemporary peers. As has been said, he was trained as a glass blower in the late 70s and early 80s, and the evidence of his training is apparent in all of his great works, which have been seen in installations throughout this building, throughout Canberra, and in 15 solo exhibitions since 1977 here and overseas. As well, he has had an involvement in many collaborative works and group works.

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