`He maintained the heartbeat of state'

TASMANIAN Governor Peter Underwood has been remembered as a man of deep intellect and peace, whose good cheer transformed Government House into a home. 

Mr Underwood died at the Royal Hobart Hospital on Monday night after he suffered a significant setback from an operation to remove a kidney tumour in early June. 

He was 76 and was serving his second term carrying out the vice-regal duties. 

Stepdaughter Madeleine Ogilvie described him as a brilliant legal mind who was hard to beat in an argument.

``He had guts, humour and manners in equal measure and equity was deeply important to him,'' she said.

``(With) his steady leadership he maintained the heartbeat of our state. 

``He was for the people and he was for social justice.'' 

Together with his wife Frances, they reinvigorated Government House. 

``It truly became a people's place, a place to gather,'' Ms Ogilvie, a Labor MHA, said.

Born in the United Kingdom, he moved to Australia with his family in 1950. 

He attended Launceston High School and studied law at the University of Tasmania, going on to practise in Hobart.  

During his distinguished legal career, he introduced the use of computer technology in court and worked to reform the civil procedures.

He was appointed as Governor in 2008 after serving 23 years on the bench, including 3-1/2 years as chief justice.

The Governor's official secretary David Owen read one of many tributes that have flooded into Government House, from an imminent Australian. 

``They made that house a joy and a delight to be in.''

He said the Governor applied himself to the job without fail. 

``No event, no person he came across in his duties, was ever beneath him,'' Mr Owen said.

``That, I think, says it all and I know my staff will agree with me about that and we will miss him greatly.''

Premier Will Hodgman said he offered wise and thought-provoking counsel to him and his predecessors and was able to charm everyone from international dignitaries to ordinary Tasmanians. 

``He opened up both the courts and Government House to the broader community in a way I believe is unparalleled in Australia,'' Mr Hodgman said.

In his final speech in the role, delivered on Anzac Day, Mr Underwood cautioned against ``glorifying war'' and urged all Australians to strive for peace.

The comments provoked the ire of the RSL, some Liberal politicians and right-wing commentators. 

But Anglican Bishop John Harrower said his strong relationships with the community allowed him to challenge Tasmanians with his thoughtful addresses.

``A key theme of his addresses was peacemaking; a concern for addressing the causes of conflict, in order that conflict would be resolved by peaceful means,'' Bishop Harrower said.

``I will miss him, we will miss him.'' 


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