Don Randall, the federal member for the West Australian electorate of Canning, has been found dead.
Police confirmed Mr Randall was found in his car in Boddington, south of Perth, on Tuesday afternoon.
A police spokesman said his cause of death was being investigated but it was not being treated as suspicious.
“Just before 3:00pm this afternoon, WA Police were advised that a 62-year-old man had been found unresponsive in his vehicle on Club Drive in Boddington,” police said in a statement.
“Police and St John Ambulance attended but tragically the man was found deceased.”
Friends say Mr Randall recently told them he had been suffering heart problems and believe it contributed to his death.
The 62-year-old served as the member for Swan from 1996 to 1998 and had represented Canning since November 2001.
The backbencher played a key role in moves to oust Tony Abbott from the Prime Ministership earlier this year, when he co-signed the letter to Mr Abbott from MPs who were unhappy with his leadership.
He seconded a motion by fellow West Australian Liberal Luke Simkpins to spill the party leadership. The motion was defeated in a partyroom ballot.
Mr Abbott on Tuesday night issued a statement honouring Mr Randall and offering his condolences to his wife Julie and their two children.
“Don was an outstanding local member. He was a passionate and persuasive advocate in Canberra and a hardworking community leader in Western Australia,” Mr Abbott said.
“He was a mentor to many and integral to the success of our party in the state of Western Australia.
“It’s hard to credit that this strong voice for Western Australia and servant of our party has left us so soon.”
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said Mr Randall was liked on both sides of Parliament and was counted as a friend by many in the Labor Party.
“He was a thoroughly good and decent bloke. West Australian through and through, Don was rightly proud of his fierce advocacy for his state and the people of Canning,” Mr Shorten said in a statement.
“This is a moment that puts daily politics in perspective. It reminds us of how precious life is.”
WA Premier Colin Barnett said he was “shocked and saddened” by Mr Randall’s death.
“Don was a very committed local member who worked hard for his constituents.
“We extend our deepest sympathy to his wife Julie and his family.”
Outspoken politician with a career marked by controversy
Mr Randall gained a reputation as an outspoken politician and his career had been marked by controversy.
In 2013, he was embroiled in a travel expenses scandal when it was revealed he spent more than $5,000 on a trip to Cairns with his wife for what he said was “electorate business”.
Not long after the trip he disclosed that he had taken possession of an investment property in Cairns but maintained that was not the purpose of his trip.
He later promised to repay the money.
Absolutely shocked and devastated to hear about Don Randall. A very good man. My heartfelt condolences to family,friends and colleagues.
— Joe Hockey (@JoeHockey) July 21, 2015
Mr Randall was also criticised for claiming travel expenses to attend an AFL match in Melbourne in 2012.
He insisted it was within entitlements as it was a stop-over on the way from Perth to Canberra for parliamentary sittings.
He was one of several Liberal MPs absent when Federal Parliament unanimously passed a motion apologising to the Stolen Generations in 2008.
Before entering Federal Parliament, Mr Randall was a teacher and a local councillor.
He is survived by his wife Julie and their two children Tess and Elliott.
Colleagues mourn ‘great mate, outstanding local member’
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, a WA-based colleague of Mr Randall, said he was a dear friend and “I will miss him greatly”.
“Don had a giant personality and approached each day with great enthusiasm,” she said in a statement.
“He will be remembered for his commitment to community service, his wit, his frank opinions freely shared and his abiding loyalty to his friends.”
Minister for Social Services Scott Morrison said he was “terribly shocked and saddened by Don Randall’s passing” and passed his sympathies onto Mr Randall’s family.
“He was a great bloke. I’ll really miss him,” Mr Morrison tweeted.
Close friend Bob Baldwin, the Member for Paterson, tweeted: “I can’t believe that my very close mate, Don Randall has died. We came in together in ’96, he was a great man, an outstanding local member.”
Very sad to hear about Don. A strong local member, a great campaigner, he always spoke his mind. A good man who will be greatly missed. RIP — Mathias Cormann (@MathiasCormann) July 21, 2015
Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss said Mr Randall was a great champion for his electorate and would be missed for his “determination, persistence and friendship”.
Federal Liberal MP Dennis Jensen characterised Mr Randall as a fighter for his electorate.
“He was everywhere. He would certainly speak with his constituents. He’d get out among them. He was a door-knocker extraordinaire,” he said.
“It has come as a significant shock and I think it’s very [significant] to remember that members of Parliament are just people and we have stresses and everything just the same as everyone else.”
WA MP Tony Simpson said he had been close to Mr Randall for years.
“He was an inspirational man to me. As everyone knows, Don was larger than life,” he said.
“He loved his electorate more than any member of Parliament I’ve [met]. He fought for everyone and every cause and taught me a lot.”
Incredibly saddened by the loss of my friend and colleague Don. My condolences to Julie and the kids. I’ll miss him greatly
— Philip Ruddock (@philipruddockmp) July 21, 2015
Shocked to hear of Don Randall’s passing. He gave a lot to the public service during his years in office. My thoughts are with his family.
— Clive Palmer (@CliveFPalmer) July 21, 2015