Former Hawke-Keating minister John Button has just died. The Australian has a long obituary on their website.
I met Button a few times, but the only substantive conversation we had was the first time,Â in the early-1990s, when I was writing my political science honours thesis on trade liberalisation (finally published in 2002), and he took the time to give me an interview. We chatted in a cafe high up in one of Sydney’s waterview hotels (the Shangri-La, perhaps?). The interview started late in the afternoon, and as we talked about industry plans and ALP factions, the sun slowly set over the water next to us, bathing the harbour in a spectrum of reds and oranges. Button was gracious with his time, and I was struck by how little resentment he seemed to feel after coming through some bruising debates. That lightness of touch came through his books too, where he relished his travels, and delighted in the quirky side of politics.Â I hope we have more like him entering Australian politics in the future.