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Newcastle Herald
Newcastle Herald
Matthew Kelly

Former long-standing Charlestown MP and Labor stalwart Richard Face dies

Mr Face advocating for improved parking at Charlestown in 2010.

Former NSW Premier Bob Carr has paid tribute to his ex-colleague and long-standing Charlestown MP Richard Face.

Mr Face, whose full name was Jack Richard Face, died on Tuesday night after a long battle with Parkinson's disease aged 80.

The former police officer held the seat of Charlestown for 30 years, a period that is believed to be a record for any state or federal MP in the region.

"Over my time in state politics he was a valued and totally trusted companion and colleague. He was always good humoured, even under dire circumstances," Mr Carr said.

"He was rooted in grass-roots community and working class politics."

Mr Face held the Gaming and Racing Portfolio between 1995 and 2003.

He was also appointed to the role of Minister Assisting the Premier on Hunter Development, a portfolio that was later renamed Minister for the Hunter.

"I valued his advice on a range of issues including policing, regional development, sport and the hospitality sector," Mr Carr said.

With Mr Face (L) with Matt Bingley, former Premier Bob Carr and Andrew Johns at Energy Australia Stadium in June 2002. Picture by Darren Pateman.

"He held his seat narrowly in the 1988 election. Had he lost it he would have won it back for us in 1991 when I was honoured to say we had reclaimed our Hunter seats."

Mr Face was born in Merewether and attended Merewether Public School, Broadmeadow High School and Newcastle Technical College.

He was credited with playing an instrumental role in the Hunter's transformation over three decades.

This included the establishment of Glenrock State Recreational Reserve and helping steer the region's transition away from steel making.

He was also a vocal advocate for the construction of the West Charlestown bypass, the redevelopment of McDonald Jones Stadium and the establishment of the Windale Police Citizens Youth Club.

He was affectionately known as the 'the father of the NSW Parliament' when he retired in 2003.

"I have been given the honour to represent the people of Charlestown for 30 years tomorrow, having first been elected on the 18th November 1972," Mr Face, who had four children and eight grandchildren, said on the eve of his retirement.

"During this time I have faced 10 elections and each time have been returned as the State Member for Charlestown and it has been a privilege to help and assist the citizens of this electorate.

"As for my record of achievement in my electorate it's for others and history to say whether it has been one of success or not. However, of the things I have done or achieved in the electorate in the 30 years, it is declaration of the Glenrock State Recreation Area which has brought me the most satisfaction."

Incumbent Charlestown MP Jodie Harrison said Mr Face had been a popular local member for more than three decades.

"He was a driving force behind many projects that we hold near to our hearts including the Newcastle Inner City Bypass and the Fernleigh Track," she said.

"My thoughts are with his family at this time."

Mr Face with his family.

Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said Mr Face had worked closely with her parents on the campaign to preserve Glenrock State Recreation Area.

"Richard was always generous with his advice, time and guidance and was a man with true Labor values who always strongly supported me running for council - first as a councillor, and then as Lord Mayor," she said.

"On behalf of the City of Newcastle, the elected council and all Novocastrians, I pass on my sincerest condolences to Richard's partner Gay, and his family and friends."

Mr Face's son Warwick said his father's career was one of many highs and acknowledged challenges. This included being found guilty of misleading a preliminary hearing of ICAC in 2003.

"Our family is steadfastly proud that the ledger is very much in favour of the people of the great state of NSW, particularly the Hunter Region, and the electorate of Charlestown," he said.

"Thank you Richard, Dad, Poppy, we all love you, time to Rest In Peace."

Mr Face's funeral will be held on Wednesday, 9 August at Pettigrew Family Funerals, Mayfield West at 12 noon.

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