Tributes flow for Peter Walsh

Jo FulwoodThe West Australian

Tributes have flowed for former Labor senator and Doodlakine farmer Peter Walsh, who died after a short illness last week.

Mr Walsh served in the Hawke Government as resources minister and finance minister, before retiring from politics in 1993.

He became a central player in devising and implementing transformative economic reforms in the 1980s.

Former State Labor agriculture minister Kim Chance said Mr Walsh had been a close friend and former farming neighbour in the central Wheatbelt.

Mr Chance said Mr Walsh would be remembered for being a far-sighted politician and a leader of this time.

"I can remember him as a relatively young farmer when I was a kid and he could just look at a weighbridge docket at the end of the day, add up his deliveries in a couple of seconds, and pass it back to the weighbridge officer and say, 'no, that's wrong'," he said.

"He had a formidable intellect."

Mr Chance said Mr Walsh played a leading role in laying the groundwork for the future Keating government to open up the Australian economy to the rest of the world.

"He had an incredibly productive time as the finance minister where he really laid the groundwork for many of the changes that were made during the Keating, rather than Hawke era, such as the floating of the Australian dollar," he said.

Former Liberal senator Winston Crane said Mr Walsh would be remembered as one of the best performing ministers in the Hawke government.

"Peter was one of the best finance ministers this country has ever had," he said.

"He was all about curbing middle class welfare and stopping wasteful government expenditure, ensuring Australia was leading a life it could afford."

Mr Crane said despite the political differences, the two had shared a close connection in representing the needs of WA in Canberra.

"What he stood for will certainly be missed; the way he went about it and the example he set," he said.

"From the point of view of principle, and how he stood up to Hawke and Keating, is quite legendary."

Mr Walsh is survived by his wife Rosalie, daughters Karen, Shelley, Anne and Deborah, and 11 grandchildren.

His funeral service will be held at noon tomorrow at the Octagon Theatre at UWA.

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