Media Release: MARY WILLEY DIES AGED 80.

Prominent Tasmanian politician, journalist and commentator of the 1980s and 1990s, Mary Willey died peacefully in Melbourne last Monday. She was aged 80. Mary leaves behind her son David Willey and family.

“Mary did not want statements about her career but the public will want to know of her passing,” friend and former Greens member of the Tasmanian House of Assembly Bob Brown said today.

In 1981 Mary Willey, elected Labor member for Bass in 1979, crossed the floor of the House of Assembly, to oppose the new Labor premier Harry Holgate’s reversal of opposition to the Hydro-Electric Commission’s proposal to dam the Franklin River. Avidly in favour of saving the Franklin, she left the ALP to sit on the cross-bench as an independent. Her move came days after ex-premier Doug Lowe, supplanted by Holgate, had crossed the floor to become an independent. It left Premier Holgate’s government close to collapse. In the subsequent election, in 1982, Liberal Premier Robin Gray was elected on a pro-dam platform.

Ms Willey, famously wearing red-framed glasses, went on to a prominent role in Tasmanian public affairs as journalist, commentator and then adviser to the emerging Greens in state politics. After a period living at Ellendale in the Derwent Valley, she moved to Melbourne to be nearer to her family.

“In public life, she was courageous, colourful and a true friend to Tasmania’s wild and scenic environment. Mary was a pivotal figure in saving the Franklin River,” Bob Brown said today. Another friend quipped that “Mary has crossed the floor for the last time.”

There will be a private family service tomorrow.


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  • Adam Burling
    published this page in Media Releases 2022-02-16 11:32:43 +1100