LOCAL tributes are pouring in for former deputy prime minister Tim Fischer who has died at the age of 73 after a decade-long battle with cancer.
Mr Fischer, a former soldier who first became an MP at the age of 24, was Nationals leader from 1990 to 1999.
He was deputy prime minister in John Howard's government from 1996 to 1999.
With his Akubra and his slightly bumbling manner he became a familiar figure in both his sprawling electorate and the national capital.
Former Lyne MP Mark Vaile, now based at Harrington, remembered Mr Fischer as a "great mentor".
"I consider myself Tim Fischer's apprentice," he said fondly.
"He was the leader of our party when I was first elected to represent the seat of Lyne in 1993."
Mr Vaile described him as the "quintessential Australian who always had an Akubra hat".
"He just loved this nation and everything about it," he said.
"He actively represented Australia as trade minister and as deputy prime minister.
"He was a great advocate for regional Australia whether that was coastal regional Australia or inland regional Australia.
"When he was leader there was a greater focus of Australians living in coastal areas."
Mr Fischer was the driving force of the building of the Alice Springs to Darwin railway.
"He was one of the globally recognised train buffs around the world," Mr Vaile said.
Mr Fischer supported Mr Howard in staring down angry rural constituents during the introduction of Australia's tough gun laws following the Port Arthur massacre.
"He stood there shoulder to shoulder with John Howard in 1996/7 when we introduced the gun laws into Australia," Mr Vaile said.
"It wasn't an easy thing to do as leader of the Nationals but he knew it was in the national interest.
"He took the criticism and was prepared to argue for it."
As a person Mr Vaile described him as "hyperactive, incredibly approachable, a great sense of humour and very open minded".
Federal member for Lyne Dr David Gillespie described Mr Fischer as a "powerful advocate for regional Australia".
He said his legacy would be "opening new markets for Australian exports".
He described him as a "man of the people, everyone knew Tim Fisher and everyone trusted him".
Cowper MP Pat Conaghan described Mr Fischer as "an old school politician who was highly intelligent and ahead of his time".
"As the leader of the National Party he was a servant to all and worked tirelessly in pursuit for a better Nation while at the same time retaining the values of mainstream Australia."
Tim Fischer is survived by his wife, Judy, and his sons, Harrison and Dominic.