By ERWIN CHLANDA
Graeme Lewis (at right), often regarded as the grey eminence of the Country Liberal Party, is reported to have passed away during the party’s general meeting today.
A source says the meeting was discussing issues concerning him when he suffered a heart attack.
A delegate at the meeting, Rhianna Harker (at left), one of the CLP’s two vice presidents, when asked by the Alice Springs News Online, would neither confirm nor deny the passing of Mr Lewis and said: “I have absolutely no comment for you.”
Another person said a statement would be issued later.
Mr Lewis was closely linked to the CLP’s Foundation 51, the controversial fundraising arm of the party, now defunct.
He was elected general secretary of the party last year but resigned from the position recently.
The CLP has just released the following statement:
Today the CLP mourns the loss of long time party elder and immediate past General Secretary Graeme Lewis.
Graeme served in a number of positions in the CLP since he first joined the party as a foundation member in 1974, including as President, Vice-President, General Secretary, Treasurer, Branch Chairman and became an Honorary Life Member in 2013.
Graeme was campaign director for a number of Territory and Federal election campaigns and he shared his wisdom and experience with many aspiring candidates and members. He was a great mentor to many people – including to party members and elected representatives – and always had time to give everybody from ordinary members to Cabinet Ministers and Chief Ministers.
Graeme not only helped set the direction of our great party for a number of years and was instrumental to our many successes, but he was also a prolific fund raiser which of course is critical for any political party to survive.
Graeme was a proud Territorian through and through and was committed to fighting for small business, rural industry and better services for all Territorians no matter where they lived.
Outside of politics, Graeme was a successful businessperson and accountant. He served as a partner for KPMGas well as General Manager of Darwin Private Hospital. Graeme also served as member of the steering committee that established the Essington International School Darwin in 1989.
The entire CLP family extend their sympathy and thoughts to Graeme’s wife Nora and their family at this difficult time.
The Lewis Family will advise of funeral arrangements in due course.
We asked CLP Director Brad Vermeer (at right) whether Mr Lewis was being discussed at the meeting just before his death, and whether he was present during any discussions. Mr Vermeer said: “I won’t be making any comment divulging any of the proceedings that occurred in Central Council.”
By ERWIN CHLANDA