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07 February 2018 Posted by 


Barry Cohen LEGEND passes 
BARRY Cohen, the legendary Member for Robertson, was the man of a million great anecdotes who served our region for decades as an outstanding member.
He was the voice and face of the Central Coast for many years and famously served as a Minister in the tumultuous years of the Whitlam Government. He was also a renowned after dinner speaker whose stories about the world “inside politics” were famous.
He once told me that the TV show “Yes Minister” was so close to what happened in Canberra, it was incredible. “We all watch it because we can relate closely to the characters”.
He was also a staunch advocate of coast tourism and in an interview he told me that the area around Old Sydney Town and the Australian Reptile Park at Somersby could be developed  as “another Orlando”.
Current Member for Robertson Lucy Wicks has paid a moving tribute to Mr Cohen in Federal Parliament upon his passing at age 82.
In a speech to parliament after the state memorial service for Mr Cohen at Old Parliament House where he spent so many years as a member and minister, Ms Wicks praised his unique qualities.
“Barry was the member for Robertson when I first came to the Central Coast in 1984, aged 12. 
“As the Prime Minister said, Barry was a man known for his wit, his humor, his memorable anecdotes and his dapper dress sense. He was recognised with an Order of Australia in 2007 for service to the Australian parliament and to the community through a range of cultural and environmental roles, along with contributions to public discussion and debate through his work for The Australian, in books and in publications. Much can be spoken about Barry's legacy. 
“I note how proudly, as a member of the Hawke government, he championed Indigenous issues, as has been raised before. One of the most enduring legacies was that the government handed back Uluru to its traditional owners, doubled the size of Kakadu National Park and extended the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.
“He was, indeed, a powerful advocate for the rights and the advancement of our First Australians. Mr Cohen would carve a strong parliamentary career as the Minister for Home Affairs and Environment and then as Minister for Arts, Heritage and Environment.
“But, as the serving member for Robertson in this place today, I wish to pay tribute to a man who served our community with incredible passion and distinction for more than 20 years. As the member for Robertson from 1969 to 1990, Mr Cohen was a fierce advocate for our community on the Central Coast. 
“He was the member for Robertson when one of the greatest and most essential transport links in our region was built, the Mooney Mooney Bridge, which thousands of commuters travelling to Sydney and Newcastle now take for granted when we drive across it every single day, along the F3—or, of course, as it's now known, the M1.
“That was part of Barry's legacy to the Central Coast. Across the Central Coast, he will probably be best remembered in our community for his passion and commitment to the environment. The environment is something that I think people on the Central Coast have a great love for. They have an instinctive great love for and a deep regard for the environment and the protection and preservation of the environment, and that's something that, in his time as the minister, he certainly reflected well.
“There were several lasting policy achievements during his time as the minister, but in Barry Cohen's life after politics he continued to serve and search for ways to care for people and our world around us.
“In 2001, he dedicated himself to protecting wildlife, building the beautiful Calga Springs Wildlife Sanctuary on the Central Coast. When he eventually sold the sanctuary four years later to Tassin and Gerald Barnard he had, in the words of Tassin, suddenly put Calga on the national map.
“As Tassin told the ABC Central Coast's Scott Levi just this week:"'Calga suddenly became more than an interchange". This passion came from hearing about the impact of feral animals on the local wildlife. 
“Along with his son Adam, Barry then began to build the sanctuary that could be enjoyed by visitors. Now known as the Australia Walkabout Wildlife Park, it is a fantastic tourist attraction for our region.
“Even when, later in life, Barry began his battle with Alzheimer's, he continued to be a tireless campaigner for the issues that mattered to him. Alzheimer's is an issue that transcends politics and that affects families on both sides of this place, and I think we can all admire the way that Barry Cohen fought for better awareness and support for Australians suffering with this insidious disease.
“Although a cure has not been found in his lifetime as he hoped, I know that his efforts will continue to inspire those who have followed him on both sides of politics, and I note the member for Dobell and her tireless advocacy in this particular area of dementia.
“As we heard in the tributes in the House yesterday, Barry Cohen's writings opened the door to what had previously been the very private pain of those who lived with Alzheimer's and dementia, and, as the current member for Robertson, I want to put on record my thanks for Barry Cohen's service to the Central Coast and to our nation and also for his incredible advocacy during that time.
May I end with a reflection from Barry's son Stuart? He described his father as a fiercely passionate individual who did nothing by half measure: 'Nothing left undone. He never took a step back.' It's a beautiful tribute to a man who cared so much and gave so much. To his wife, Rae, and to his sons, I extend my deepest sympathy and thank him for his service to our community and our nation.”


Michael Walls
P: 0407 783 413
E: Michael@accessnews.com.au

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Central Coast Business Access (CCBA) covers the business and community issues of the NSW Central Coast region. CCBA is a prime media source for connecting with the pulse of the region and tapping into it's vast opportunities.