WARWICK Parer AM, a member of the celebrated family that truly graced Papua New Guinea with its name, died early yesterday morning at the age of 77 while recovering from surgery.
He was a former Liberal Party Senator for Queensland (1984-2000), and, in his early years as a politician, I had much to do with him in my then role with the ABC.
Warwick, the nephew of the famous Australian war photographer, Damien Parer, was born in Wau and educated at Nudgee College, Brisbane, and the University of Melbourne, from where he received a Bachelor of Commerce.
He soon showed himself to be a businessman of great acumen, founding Non-Destructive Testing Laboratories in 1962 and becoming Victorian manager of Philips-Stanford in 1966.
Later he was commercial manager and company secretary of Utah Development Company in 1973 and Chairman of Australian Coal Exporters before being enlisted to occupy a Senate vacancy in 1984.
From 1996 to 1998 Warwick was Minister for Resources and Energy in the Howard Government.
During his time in Opposition he shared a flat with Howard, with whom he retained a close friendship.
Upon his retirement from politics, his friend and colleague then Senator John Herron said of him: “Warwick brought to the Senate not only his expertise in management but also his experience in the field for which he assumed government responsibility.
“He allied this with the stability that comes with the support of a wife and family. He was never flustered and has a capacity for friendship which traverses political partisanship.
“He is a mean golfer and one is always aware of his presence by the distinctive aroma of his pipe.”
My own dealings with Warwick, during his years in Opposition, were marked by a cordiality and straightforwardness not always seen in politics. He was a fine man – tough but fair would be the cliché – and, having been in business, he had a much better grip on the realities of life than many of his political counterparts on both sides of the aisle.
Over those years we had many discussions about the ABC and contemporary politics and I grew to like him a great deal and trust him and his judgement.
After leaving politics, Warwick continued his business career and served as President of the Queensland Liberal Party from 2006-08. In 2012, he was appointed Chairman of the Board of Stanwell Corporation Limited.
His first cousin, Rob Parer, recalled that Warwick’s father, Kevin, was killed during the first Japanese air raid on the PNG mainland at Salamaua just a few weeks after flying most of the Parer wives and children to Port Moresby to evacuate by ship to Australia.
“The six Parer cousins were all at Nudgee College together in the 1950s and all were great mates,” said Rob Parer.
“We had the launch of Warwick's book a few months ago and his mate Dr John Herron did the honours.”
The book, Mine - a Memoir (Copyright Publishing), tells of Warwick’s PNG days as well as his subsequent careers in business and politics.