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STATEMENT BY THE PRIME MINISTER, THE HON P J KEATING, MP DEATH OF DR PETER WILENSKI, AC

Prime Minister - Keating, Paul

Media Release - 03 November 1994

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PRIME MINISTER
STATEMENT BY THE PRIME MINISTER, THE HON P J KEATING, MP
DEATH OF DR PETER WILENSKI, AC
Peter Wilenski died this morning after a long struggle with a very difficult
illness. He leaves behind his wife, Jill, and two young children, Michael and
Katy. I offer to them heartfelt condolences on my own behalf, and on behalf
of the Government, its ministers and the public service as a whole.
In a long career in many different positions as public servant, academic,
ministerial adviser, arnd diplomat he made an enormous contribution to
Australian public life. He played a key role in the revolutionary changes
which transformed the face of Australian public administration, beginning with
his involvement in the Coombs Royal Commission on Australian Government
Administration in 1974 during the Whitlam Government. During his
subsequent career, he headed four different government departments under
three Labor governments as well as being chairman of the Public Service
Board. The necessity of change was something he saw very clearly and articulated
persuasively. Successive Labor governments availed themselves of his
capacity to design and implement change.
It was also a very important part of how Peter saw himself, and in that regard
as in the happiness he found with his family his life was one of immense
personal fulfilment.
Throughout his life he was passionately committed to advancing social
justice. His intellectual talent and his skill at public administration were
illuminated by a strong sense of fairness. He was instrumental in creating a
pmuebnl. ic sector inw hich women could begin to have the same opportunities as
The pioneer Australian feminist, Edna Ryan, said today about Peter that ' he
was a most unusual bureaucrat and a well-informed feminist. Probably no
man gave more than Peter to the cause of the status of women in Australia'. 29 Cl 3


2
As Australia's ambassador to the United Nations in New York from 1989 to
1992 he applied these same management skills and social commitment to
advance the cause of reform of the United Nations and to focus the attention
of the international community on to the needs of women and human rights
icI sac
He was a person of many dimensions. He had a great love of art, and a
staggering array of interests in issues as diverse as his first profession,
medicine, development assistance, and higher education.
Australia has lost a national figure. We mourn that. But at the same time he
has left us much for which the Government and country can be deeply
thankful. CANBERRA 3 November 1994
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