IT WAS the elderly wife of a former policeman who alerted Premer David Bartlett to the formidable memory of political opponent Michael Hodgman.
Mr Bartlett told Parliament yesterday that during his first election campaign, in 2002, he was doorknocking in the Hobart working- class suburb of Moonah when he knocked on the door of a "lovely elderly lady".
Mr Bartlett introduced himself and asked her to consider him for her number one vote.
"I'm sorry young man, I'm voting for Michael Hodgman," she said.
She told the Labor hopeful that her husband had been a police officer and died 15 years previously. She had met Mr Hodgman at a function some time later and he had remembered her late husband's police badge number.
"As I was doorknocking, I thought to myself, `I may as well give up now,"' Mr Bartlett said.
Greens leader Nick McKim, also addressing Parliament on the Denison Liberal MHA's last day in the House yesterday, remembered the stoushes that Mr Hodgman and former Attorney-General Judy Jackson had when Mr McKim was first elected.
"You could have sold tickets to them," he said.
"She famously once said - and I think it ended up on the front page - that she hated all Hodgmans.
"It was a bit over the top from Judy but to be fair, Michael, she did cop it from you along the way."
The announcement yesterday by William Michael Hodgman, QC, that he would not contest the state election in March because of ill health brought a generous reaction from all sides of politics.
The father of Opposition Leader Will Hodgman had already enjoyed a long political career when his only son was elected to Parliament in 2002.
He said after his valedictory speech that his only regret about retiring from politics was that he would not get to the opportunity serve in a state government led by his son.
During a varied political career that saw him serve in all state and federal houses of parliament except the Senate, Mr Hodgman became a nationally recognised fighter for Tasmania.
He was equally well known across the state as in the Denison electorate that he represented in both the federal and state lower houses.
He entered politics as a member of the Legislative Council for Huon.
Will Hodgman said that his father was often a frustration to his political colleagues in Braddon and Lyons, and on King Island or the East Coast, because the first person whom people recognised at community events was invariably not the local member but Michael Hodgman.
His national reputation as an articulate and colourful political performer was strengthened during his years serving in the Federal Parliament alongside fellow Tasmanian Bruce Goodluck.
The two, dubbed the odd couple, would pull political stunts that kept the state in the media spotlight.
But Mr Hodgman reminded Parliament that he also had a deeply serious political side for which he was willing to fight.
"In the federal sphere, I strongly opposed Indonesia's so-called annexation of East Timor," he said.
"What a weasel word that is from the lexicon of international diplomacy - it wasn't annexation, it was a bloody and brutal invasion.
"And although it took a generation, the day the independent nation of East Timor was granted independence was a very happy day for me indeed."
Mr Hodgman also went against party policy to oppose the flooding of Lake Pedder in Tasmania's South-West. "While I have always supported hydro- industrialisation and the benefits of our clean energy, I was never convinced that the beautiful Lake Pedder should be flooded," he said.
Will Hodgman said that it had been a day of mixed emotions as he farewelled his father from the House in front of all the immediate members of their family.
His wife, Nicky, his sisters, Angi and Tori, his uncle and former MP Peter Hodgman and his wife, his other uncle John Hodgman and his father's partner, Lindy Bell, were all in the visitors' gallery to hear him move the motion to note his father's retirement.
He said later that he had felt no pressure or influence from his father being an MP in the same political party.
"It's an absolute nonsense for anyone to suggest my abilities have been curtailed in some way because my father is in our party ... I have been fortunate to have him as a father but also as a member of my team."
Mr Hodgman's final speech to Parliament was a mix of history and political argument.
He talked of the 94 years of continuous political service by the Hodgman family so far in Tasmania across four generations, starting with his great-uncle Thomas Christophers Hodgman.
But he also made a last political plea for a bigger Parliament. "There are just 25 of us - 10 too few in my opinion," he said.
Mr Hodgman, known for his colourful attire, wore an Australian flag tie on his last day in Parliament.
Also renowned as a fierce monarchist, his last words were: "As you would expect me to say, God save the Queen."