INDUSTRY and government representatives have come together to pay tribute to the late Tim Fischer.
Mr Fischer died on 22 August at the age of 73 after a lengthy battle with leukaemia.
As leader of the federal National Party, he was Deputy PM and trade minister in the early years of the Howard government and was a proponent of trade ties with Asia.
One of his hallmarks was his Aussie Akubra hat.
Current Deputy PM Michael McCormack described Mr Fischer as “a mentor, he was a friend, he was a guiding influence”.
Mr McCormack spoke of Mr Fischer’s passion for rail.
“There is no one who knew more about rail, who knew about the importance of rail efficiency, of train gauges, electric vacation of standard models, — electrification,” he said.
“My last actual conversation with him, I told him I was going to see Jacinta Allen, the Victorian Minister, and Tim quickly sent me all the rail gauges, all the specs, all the electrification modules and modems that needed to be as part of the discussions we were having,” he said.
“His legacy will live on in so many ways, so many people were touched by his warmth. By his humanity. By his love and compassion and loyalty and trust and friendship. That was the Tim Fischer I knew, I respected.”
Australasian Railway Association chief executive Danny Board, who was attending the Inland Rail Conference in Toowoomba when news of Mr Fischer’s death broke, said delegates were enormously saddened.
“Tim was a tireless and energetic advocate for rail in Australia and was one of the driving forces behind the Inland Rail Project,” Mr Broad said.
“He leaves a lasting legacy as a visionary leader for the industry who had a unique connection to rural and regional Australians.”
Australian Logistics Council chief executive Kirk Coningham said Mr Fischer’s capacity for connecting with Australians from all walks of life was renowned.
“His loss will be keenly felt by many involved in the rail freight sector, and across regional Australia broadly,” Mr Coningham said.