Politicians to honour late former minister

Posted on 04/25/2020

Former labor Minister Barry Cohen (L) and former National Party leader Doug Anthony in 2002.Senior politicians will honour the life and achievements of former Hawke government minister Barry Cohen at a memorial service on Monday morning.

The service at Old Parliament House – where Mr Cohen spent all but three years of his more than two decades in parliament – will pay tribute to a man who dedicated his life to serving the community, both in parliament and during his later years through tireless advocacy for finding a cure for Alzheimer’s disease.

In 1969, Mr Cohen won the NSW Central Coast seat of Robertson, which had been Liberal for 20 years, and held onto it until his retirement in 1990.

As a young backbencher, he completed an arts degree at the n National University.

He went into the shadow ministry in 1977 but was dropped in 1980.

However when Bob Hawke came to power in 1983, Cohen became home affairs and environment minister, then changed to arts, heritage and environment in 1984. He was also minister assisting the prime minister for the Bicentennial in 1988.

His most lasting achievements involved protecting some of ‘s greatest natural wonders. He extended protection to all the Great Barrier Reef and Uluru and had stage two of Kakadu National Park World Heritage-listed.

He was also in great demand as a marginal seat campaigner. In the 1984 election, he campaigned in 31 seats. At the end of the long campaign, he suffered a heart attack.

But after the 1987 campaign, his faction – the NSW Right – dumped him from its ministerial ticket and he went to the back bench for a term before retiring from parliament.

He and his wife Rae ran a commercial wildlife sanctuary at Calga on the Central Coast until 2005.

The family requested in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the World Wildlife Fund.