Peter Reith, a beloved former Australian politician, has died aged 72 after battling with Alzheimer's disease. Alzheimer's is a type of dementia that affects memory, thinking, and behavior that eventually will interfere with daily tasks. It is the most common cause of dementia, and accounts for 60-80% of dementia cases. Dementia is not a specific disease but is described as a general term for the impaired ability of memory. It's not a common side effect of aging, but per the Alzheimer's Association, the greatest risk factor for the disease is increasing age.
Reith served as a Senior Cabinet Minister under the Howard government from 1996 to 2001. His life's center was public service. In addition to his work in the government, he was also a political commentator on Sky News Australia, and co-anchor of the weekly program Beattie & Reith with former Queensland Premier Peter Beattie.
His death was confirmed by Ian Hanke, an advisor under the Howard government. Hanke confirmed the news in an approved statement by Reith's family. "It is with deep sadness that we confirm that following a brace battle with Alzheimer's disease Peter Reith died peacefully on the afternoon of 8 November 2022," he wrote, per Sky News.
"We are proud of his many achievements and his lifelong commitment to public service," the statement continued. "A beloved grandfather, father, husband, brother, friend, and respected colleague. He will be dearly missed and always cherished."
After being elected to the seat of Flinders in 1982, Reith served as a member of the House of Representatives for nearly 20 years. He served under Malcolm Fraser, Andrew Peacock, John Hewson, Alexander Downer, and John Howard before he retired from politics at the 2001 election.
He was a key figure in Australian politics throughout the 1990s and was known for promoting and implementing economic reform in tax, the labor market, and the stevedoring industry.