August 03, 2023

Today I pay tribute to a man who dedicated his life to the Australian Labor Party and the Hunter region, Richard Face, who passed away yesterday. Richard's life was dedicated to public service, working as a police officer before being elected to the New South Wales parliament in 1972 as the member for Charlestown, a role he held for the next 31 years—an incredible length of service in a region that produces MPs who serve for a long time at a state level. He won his 1988 re-election by just 62 votes, but in a tough year for Labor at the state level he managed to hold on when two of his Hunter colleagues lost their seats. In the next election, in 1991, Richard was comfortably re-elected with a 10 per cent swing to him.

Richard's contribution to the Hunter and the state of New South Wales was immense. He served as Minister for Gaming and Racing and Minister Assisting the Premier on Hunter Development in the Carr Labor government from 1995 until his retirement in 2003. His service in this portfolio was at a vital and historic time in the region's industrial history, with the closure of the BHP in 1999. Until this time, steel-making had been an integral and, quite frankly, defining part of the economic life of Newcastle and the Hunter, and it was particularly vital for the Australian war effort in both world wars. Richard served his region with distinction and made a significant contribution in this period following the BHP's closure.

As the Newcastle Herald reported on his passing, he was instrumental in 'the Hunter's transformation over three decades'. The Hunter region is the dynamic and exciting place it is today because of the vision, commitment and hard work of people such as Richard. Richard played a key role in the delivery of things we take for granted today, such as the Glenrock state reserve, where I love bushwalking with my kids and wife; the Newcastle Inner City Bypass; and the redevelopment of Newcastle International Sports Centre, then known as Marathon Stadium and now known as McDonald Jones Stadium, the home of the Newcastle Knights and Jets.

Richard was also instrumental in establishing the Windale Police Citizens Youth Club. Windale is a special place, and the club continues to be an important community hub for the people of Windale. It's unfortunately a town with the lowest socioeconomic status in the entire state. I was there at the club just a few weeks ago, visiting volunteers from Our Community Place who provide food hampers and lunches from the PCYC. It's a service that could not have existed without Richard's great effort to establish the PCYC. On behalf of the people of Shortland, I recognise and pay tribute to Richard's public service and send my condolences to his partner, Gaye, his children and his grandchildren.