FORMER deputy prime minister Tim Fischer, who died on Wednesday night aged 73, has been remembered as a champion for regional and rural communities.
Wagga-based NSW Nationals MLC Wes Fang said Mr Fischer has an unmatched legacy.
"He was a courageous leader in the good times and particularly strong when things like the gun debate happened. That's the key to being a real leader, it's when you have to make the tough decisions," he said.
"There's no question that Australia is in a better place now because Tim Fischer made the tough decisions".
Mr Fang said his "mentor and friend" was "sharp, lucid, witty, charming and bright" right to the very end.
"I was with Tim 10 days ago presenting a cheque to the Boree Creek Public School and then we had a steak sandwich at the pub," he said.
"Even though he was unwell, his love of Boree Creek shone through when he drove two hours to come.
"As always, he was a complete gentleman who had the complete respect of everyone he came across".
Lockhart Shire mayor Rodger Schirmer said Mr Fischer was an "energetic, altruistic, people-person" who found his calling in politics and gave everything to his constituents.
"Obviously, we considered Tim our own and our museum has a dedicated section to his memorabilia," he said.
"When he came to Lockhart he walked down the street talking with everyone. He was very popular and very well-known."
In 2016, the state government proposed the council merge with its neighbours, but Cr Schirmer said Mr Fischer would have pushed for their concerns to be heard.
He has "no doubts" that Mr Fischer had a huge role in keeping the council unchanged.
Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack said the nation had lost one of its finest with the passing of Mr Fischer.
"Tim was a giant of the National Party, he was a giant of Australia, but more than that, he was a champion for regional and rural communities. Regional Australia had no better friend than Tim," he said.
"There are few people who have had the impact on the National Party and indeed this great nation as Tim Fischer, AC.
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"His presence was felt in every room he entered and his name and legacy will continue to benefit those who choose regional and rural Australia as their home".
Wagga mayor Greg Conkey described Mr Fischer as "an outstanding statesman" who was well-respected by all sides of Australian politics and a great supporter of southern NSW.
Cr Conkey said Mr Fischer made enormous efforts to give his time to everyone, not just his own electorate.