Former Member for Wagga, Joe Schipp, has died at the age of 85.
Mr Schipp a minister in the Greiner and Fahey state governments, passed away unexpectedly at home on Thursday, the same morning he was due to deliver the eulogy at the funeral of his dear friend, and fellow former MP, Wal Fife, who died last week.
Son Daryl Schipp has described his father as “a great champion of the people”, who was still deeply committed to the people of Wagga.
“I am extremely proud of him,” Daryl Schipp said.
Mr Schipp’s wife Rhonda died in March. He is survived by sons Daryl and Glenn and their families.
Current Member for Wagga, Daryl Maguire has paid tribute to Mr Schipp.
“My heartfelt condolences are with the Schipp Family as they come to terms with Joe’s passing some eight months after the death of Rhonda, who died on February 28,” Mr Maguire said.
“Together they were a formidable team and devoted a majority of their lives to public service.
“Joe started his adulthood as a school teacher, then a small businessman, farmer and then politician, having been the Member for Wagga for 23 years and three months when he retired in March 1999.”
Mr Schipp served as Member for Wagga from 1975 to 1999, and was never being significantly challenged in his seat, Mr Maguire said.
He was the shadow minister for a myriad of portfolios and served as the Minister for Housing and Minister for Sport Recreation and Racing.
Mr Schipp was patron of various organisations and schools in the Wagga electorate. He also held life membership of Wagga Tennis Association and the Wagga Show Society.
He was declared freeman of the City of Wagga in 1999, awarded an Honorary Doctorate (honoris causa) of the Charles Sturt University in 1991 and given the Order of Australia OAM Medal in 2003.
“Whether you agreed or not with Joe, you always knew where he stood on an issue. He never backed away from a political fight,” Mr Maguire said.
“Joe Schipp partnered with Wal Fife to create the Charles Sturt University – intervening in Parliament in a late night sitting to ensure that the legislation was approved to allow development of the university.”
Mr Schipp remained active in his retirement years with a number of activities, including the Water for Lake Albert Group and working towards the improvement of water quality and storage.
“Joe and Rhonda had a strong interest in the Australian Constitutional Monarchy and were active members of ACM,” he said.
“Joe will be also remembered for his drive and tenacious determination for the establishment of the Riverina Cancer Care Clinic facility in the city.”
Member for Riverina Michael McCormack described Mr Schipp’s death as profoundly sad for the region.
He said the loss of Mr Schipp just days after his former colleague Wal Fife marked the end of an era.