On behalf of the Victorian Nationals I wish to extend our deepest condolences to the family and friends of former Federal Nationals leader and Deputy Prime Minister Tim Fischer AC.

Tim epitomised everything it means to be a great Australian.

A devoted family man, a farmer, a Vietnam war veteran, a Member of Parliament at state and federal levels, a Federal Minister, a Nationals leader and Deputy PM, Tim was deeply respected by all sides of politics and by all those who had the honour of knowing and working with him.

Tim left a lasting legacy from his time as Deputy PM, serving at the time of the horrific Port Arthur massacre that changed our nation and led to the transformation of Australia’s firearm laws.

Well-known as a ferocious rail enthusiast, Tim’s passion for rail ensured the long-mooted Adelaide-Darwin rail link became reality and that many other infrastructure projects got the support and funding they needed to proceed.

Tim was the sort of person who never stopped ringing to offer friendly advice, and it was always just that – friendly – as well as helpful and thoughtful. Tim was always thinking of others and our wider communities.

Tim walked the world stage proudly representing Australia during his posting to Rome and his many overseas travels, but he was equally just as comfortable and happy holding court at home at a backyard barbecue.

The National Party will forever be indebted to Tim for his service, his leadership, his loyalty and his unfailing optimism for the potential of our communities here in Victoria and right across regional Australia.

Even after he left political life, Tim continued to be a passionate advocate for regional development, including through sharing his great love of trains and working to better the rail system in regional Victoria.

Tim was a true champion for regional Australia and an outstanding Australian in every sense of the word. He will be greatly and sorely missed.

We send our love and prayers to Tim’s wife Judy and to his sons Harrison and Dominic.