Shirley Walters - Liberal Stalwart

I am saddened to learn of the death of former Liberal Senator for Tasmania and Liberal Party Life Member, Shirley Walters who is a shining example of commitment and service for all aspiring to public life.

Shirley Walters, the daughter of Sir Robert Menzies’ deputy, Sir Eric Harrison, was Tasmania’s first female Senator with a determined and passionate commitment to advocating for the virtues and values at the core of the Liberal Party’s beliefs. She was a Senator for 18 years.

A trained nurse and proud housewife, Shirley Walters was elected to the Senate in 1975 as a part of the huge swing against the Whitlam Government. She threw herself into Senate Committee work, especially in the area of health before serving as the Parliamentary Secretary to the Hon. John Howard for two years.

Shirley was vocal, fearless and hard-working which made her a genuine force with which to be reckoned. She was known for her robust debating style, interjections and surviving a motion (because of Labor absenteeism) to have her removed from the Senate.

Shirley also had the gentle, caring nature of a nurse which saw her actively involved in many community groups and widely respected right across Tasmania. As the leader of the Tasmanian Liberal Senate ticket at a number of elections, Shirley was successful in securing a number of major investments in Tasmania, including being a part of the Senate Team that successfully lobbied for the Tasmanian Freight Equalisation Scheme.

After retiring, Shirley remained active in the Liberal Party and was awarded life membership for her service.

On a personal note, I will forever be indebted to Senator Walters for her personal support and encouragement of me from my time in student politics, to my time as State President of the Liberal Party and throughout my time as a Senator.

As Robert Menzies said, “The beset epitaph for a true democrat will not be, ‘I tickled people’s ears, I got their votes, I spent their money’, but, ‘I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.’ (Menzies 30/10/42).

Shirley was a true Menzies Liberal.

About Eric

Eric Abetz has been a Liberal Senator for Tasmania since 1994 and has served in a range of Leadership, Ministerial and Shadow Ministerial roles.

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