It was with great sadness that yesterday I learned of the passing of Peter Coleman AO. Peter was a man of great intellect and wisdom who lived a life of distinguished service to the arts, politics, community and family.
Peter served his state and his nation with distinction. He dedicated much of his life to the written word and his contribution to public debate and intellectual life was exceptional.
Born in Melbourne, Peter graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Sydney before going on to complete a Masters of Economics at the London School of Economics. Together with his late wife Verna, an exceptional writer in her own right, he spent a year teaching in Sudan before returning to Australia.
He edited The Bulletin and Quadrant as well as writing several books of his own, ranging across topics as diverse as the history of censorship in Australia, a biography of poet James McAuley, a collection of Australian historical cartoons, as well as his own memoirs. In 2008 he assisted his son-in-law, The Hon Peter Costello AC, with the writing of his memoirs.
The arts were a lifelong passion and Peter’s contribution included serving as a Member of the Australia Council for the Arts, a Councillor for the National Institute of Dramatic Art, Chairman of the Interim Council for the National Film and Television School and as Trustee of the Australian Museum.
He served for 10 years in the New South Wales Parliament as the Member for Fuller and was appointed as Parliamentary Secretary to the Premier and Minister for Revenue and Assistant Treasurer. After the defeat of the Willis Government in 1976, Peter led the Liberal Party until the party’s defeat at the 1978 election. In 1981 Peter won a by-election for the Federal electorate of Wentworth, a seat he held until his retirement from politics in 1987.
In 2015, Peter was invested as an Officer of the Order of Australia for his distinguished service to print media, politics and the community.
He is survived by his three children and eight grandchildren and I extend to them and their extended families my deepest condolences.