In his valedictory speech last month, the moderate Liberal took time in between thanking his family, staff and fellow elected members to take aim at Australia’s illicit drug policy and call for action on climate change.
‘The use of some illicit drugs needs to be decriminalised,’ he said. ‘While the popular refrain ‘tough on drugs’ is an easy phrase, the issues are more complex and need sensitive consideration in line with mental health and social welfare issues.
‘We are losing too many of our young people because they are seen as criminals and, as a result, do not seek medical help.’
Dr Washer also used his valedictory speech to call for continued action women worldwide have access to family planning services. ‘I am particularly proud of the work I have been privileged to undertake in advancing the rights of women, both here and internationally,’ he said.
‘We must continue to challenge the social, religious and other barriers to women’s rights around the world.’
In his 15 years in Federal Parliament, Dr Washer, who was a general practitioner before his election, served as ‘doctor in the house’ giving medical advice and assistance to members of both sides of politics.
Dr Washer also paid tribute to Gloria Riley with whom he has worked for 35 years, first at his medical practice then as his personal assistant through his political career. ‘I cannot think of one person I have met in this long journey I would not regard as a friend,’ he said.