“The more contact I had with Patrick, the clearer it became to me that the title ascribed to him as ‘the Father of Reconciliation’ was no throwaway line invented by the media, but a title well and truly earned from a life of commitment and courage, and a rare generosity of spirit.”
It was with mixed emotions that I read yesterday of Patrick Dodson’s decision to retire from federal parliament.
While it is entirely appropriate that Patrick should focus on his health, his departure from the national stage early next year represents a great loss to the parliament and to the Australian people.
I had the privilege of working closely with Patrick as co-chair of the Expert Panel on Constitutional Recognition of Indigenous Australians and also, for a brief period, on the subsequent Referendum Council process that culminated in the Uluru Statement from the Heart.
Of course, long before I had the opportunity of meeting and working with Patrick, I knew and greatly admired him as the “Father of Reconciliation”.
The more contact I had with him personally, the clearer it became to me that this was no throwaway line invented by the media, but a title well and truly earned from a life of commitment and courage, and a rare generosity of spirit.
Patrick's wisdom, warmth and goodness shine brightly wherever he goes and never fail to bring out the best in people.
There is no doubt that he will be written into Australian history as a great leader, who made a profound contribution in steering the nation towards a better, more harmonious future in which the unique history and culture our First Peoples is recognised and valued as a precious gift.
He leaves with my heartfelt admiration and gratitude.
Mark Leibler AC, senior partner Arnold Bloch Leibler