24 May 2024

State Funeral for former Labor MLA Bill Wood

| Ian Bushnell
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Former Labor MLA Bill Wood, pictured left with David Chalker in 2008, was committed to serving the community. Photo: ACT Government.

A State Funeral will be held next week for former Labor MLA Bill Wood, who has died at the age of 88.

Mr Wood served in the Legislative Assembly for 15 years and held a range of ministerial portfolios.

He was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia in the 2013 Australia Day Honours for significant service to the community and the Legislative Assembly.

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Born in Toowoomba, Queensland, in 1935, Mr Wood was a teacher who went into state politics, serving two terms in Parliament, in the seat of Cook from 1969 to 1972 and Barron River from 1972 to 1974.

Labor politics was in the blood. His father, Les, served terms in the Queensland Parliament and was briefly the leader of the Queensland ALP prior to his death in 1958, while his identical twin brother Peter was also a state Labor MLA and served on the Toowoomba City Council.

Mr Wood came to Canberra in 1978 with his wife Beverley through his work as a teacher of children with disabilities. He hadn’t planned to stay long but could not stay out of politics.

For two years, he was a Labor ACT senator and a private secretary for federal education minister Susan Ryan.

Elected to the first assembly in 1989, Mr Wood later represented the Belconnen-based seat of Ginninderra. He served as minister for education, disability, housing, community services, police, the arts and urban services before retiring from politics in 2004.

However, he continued to be involved in the community, becoming chair of Arthritis ACT and patron of not-for-profit Abbeyfield ACT.

Mr Wood attributed his commitment to public life to his father.

“Be useful, he always used to tell me,” he told The Canberra Times in 2013 when he was awarded his AM.

“I’m very much aware of those people in the community that work so hard,” he said.

“This community really thrives in lots of people doing lots of things.

“There’s literally thousands of groups out there. Tens of thousands of people doing things, doing great things.

“I’m just one of those tens of thousands.”

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Chief Minister Andrew Barr said Mr Wood was a diligent Labor member of the Legislative Assembly.

“I first met Bill in 1992 when I joined the Labor Party, and although our time as Members in the Assembly did not overlap, I did get the chance to work with him in government as a staffer during his final term in the Assembly,” Mr Barr said.

“In recognition of Bill’s significant contribution to the Canberra community, the Wood family has accepted the offer of a State Funeral to celebrate Bill’s life next Tuesday .”

Mr Wood is survived by his wife Beverley, children Andrea and Steve, Richard and Eileen, Matthew and Fu Yang, Wendy and Cameron and grandchildren, Sylvia, Nick, Maxwell, Harry, Georgette and Bella.

The service will be held at 2 pm on Tuesday, 28 May ,at St Paul’s Anglican Church, Manuka.

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Bill was a thoroughly decent man of great integrity. Canberrans benefited greatly from his time in the Assmebly and his dedicated service to our community. Thank you Bill for all your kindness and wisdom over the years.

Bill was a nice guy. Good solid politician who concentrated on the basic needs of the community.

The current lot should follow his example.

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