FORMER sport minister Hugh Delahunty has reflected on his success securing big-ticket events to Victoria as he leaves Spring Street after a decade in politics.
The retiring Lowan MP gave his valedictory speech last week in which he outlined the state government’s investment in sporting infrastructure including redevelopment work at Melbourne Park.
“A lot of people do not realise that Melbourne Park is the third-busiest entertainment venue in the world,” Mr Delahunty said. “It is not only Margaret Court Arena, Rod Laver Arena and Hisense Arena but a lot of other facilities are also used there.
“If you go to France and have a look at Roland Garros Stadium, you will discover that it closes down for six months of the year.
“By contrast, Melbourne Park is a hive of activity for 12 months of the year.” A former Essendon player in the early 1970s, Mr Delahunty worked as a farmer and meat standards officer before becoming a rural affairs advisor. He replaced former agriculture minister Bill McGrath as Wimmera MP following his retirement at the 1999 state election.
Mr Delahunty steadily built up his primary vote, rising from 32 per cent of the primary vote at the 1999 election to nearly 41 per cent after the defunct electorate of Lowan was revived.
“(Politicians) need to have respect to do the work we do,” the 65-year-old said. “We will not always agree with people.
“We will not always be able to do the things people want, but if you can hold your heads up high and have respect, you can walk out of this place like I will on November 28 down those steps that I walked up in 1999 feeling very proud of my achievements.”
Mr Delahunty mentioned the political curiosity of being one of the few people to have sat in Parliament on opposite sides to their sibling.
His sister Mary Delahunty was health minister in the Bracks government and served as a Labor MP for eight years.
“A lot of people know that Mary and I sat opposite one another in this chamber,” Mr Delahunty said.
“There was only one other time that situation (of sibling MPs in opposing parties) happened before, and it was in the very early days of the West Australian Parliament.”