Australian political leaders are paying tribute to the late Senator John Madigan who represented the Democratic Labor Party in Federal Parliament from 2010-2014. A devout Catholic and the only DLP figure to be elected to the Senate since the 1974 election, Madigan died peacefully in Ballarat at the age of 53 on 16 June after losing a battle with cancer.
Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott told The Catholic Weekly Madigan’s faith inspired his own during their time together in Parliament.
“John never knew this, but he restored my practice of grace before meals,” Mr Abbott said.
“I had invited him to dinner in the Opposition Leader’s suite with like-minded members of my team. The meal had just arrived when it suddenly occurred to me that it would be his practice to start with a blessing. So that’s what I did.”
“I’m not sure whether it impressed him but it certainly impressed itself on me and henceforth I never hosted a dinner in my office without asking for the Lord’s blessing.”
“He was a very decent man with an old-fashioned sense of courtesy and respect for others. My thoughts and prayers are with his family at this sad time.”
his passing is a great loss to Australia
A Ballarat local and blacksmith and boilermaker by trade, Madigan stood up for the dignity of working-class Australians and farmers in his political career.
“His time in federal parliament was marked by his deep concern for the plight of Australian farmers, particularly over the erosion of their water entitlements, and over the loss of Australian manufacturing industries,” said friend and current President of the National Civic Council Pat Byrne who met Madigan during his involvement with NCC youth in the 1980s.
“He was highly respected by all who knew him and his passing is a great loss to Australia.”
Steven Campbell, the current leader of the DLP and Madigan’s Chief of Staff from 2011-2014 said it was a privilege to work under him.
“Everyone who knew John knew him as a man who was determined to do the right thing, no matter what it cost him personally,” he said. “John was committed to addressing that injustice with all his might. He genuinely believed that every person had equal worth”
A former policy advisor to Senator Madigan, Clara Geoghegan said the Senator’s Madigan’s convictions on human dignity were not just rooted in economic theories but humanitarian, with his advocacy for pro-life bio-ethics as well as the humane treatment of asylum seekers and refugees.
“He was pro-life and not frightened to stand up for the intrinsic dignity of the human person from the moment of conception until natural death,” she told The Catholic Weekly.
“He had given a number of adjournment speeches regarding the persecution of the Falun Gong in China, organ harvesting carried out by the Chinese regime and highlighting the persecution of minorities in African countries,” she said.
“Pope Francis has often spoken of the duties of politicians to safeguard human dignity and promote the common good; John Madigan was switched on to both of those,” she said.
Mr Madigan is survived by his wife Teresa and their children Lucy and Jack.