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Wednesday, 23 November 2011
Page: 13682

Mr BYRNE (Holt) (19:25): I rise this evening to mark the passing of an important person in the life of Cranbourne, Barry Jones, the former President and Vice President of the Cranbourne RSL, and to celebrate his life and his contribution to the lives of many veterans in our region.

Barry served in the reserves at the Monash University Regiment for over 14 years before playing a substantial role at the Cranbourne RSL since 1988. According to Cranbourne RSL receptionist Anne O'Sullivan, Barry Jones's support for and involvement with staff at the Cranbourne RSL were highly valued and his regular accessibility and support for the members were deeply valued. Barry always adhered to the RSL protocol and kept the RSL principles alive. During his tenure as both President and Vice President of the Cranbourne RSL he played an important role in the recent merger of the Cranbourne and Dandenong RSL sub-branches in 2009, which led to a substantial increase in the services provided to local RSL members. Barry also organised Cranbourne RSL open days to attract new members so they could reach their goal of 2,000 members. Barry also led efforts at the Cranbourne RSL with its development to modernise its facilities in Cranbourne. Barry was also heavily involved in the Cranbourne RSL Bowls Club, and many members were grateful for his efforts in assisting the club in upgrading the bowling greens. Barry was a long-term member of the club and made an enormous contribution in growing the club and allowing it to thrive.

Close friend Denny van Maanenberg and colleagues at the Cranbourne RSL and the Casey Regional Veterans Welfare Centre praised his achievements, including helping to organise the 90th anniversary of the Cranbourne RSL and the 60th anniversary of victory in the Pacific. Denny also noted that he and Barry attended many aged-care facilities, local schools and other community groups to conduct presentations and educate students and people on the meaning of Anzac Day, Remembrance Day, Vietnam Veterans Day and other significant events in Australia's military history. In the words of Denny:

Barry was always willing to assist and ensure that the Cranbourne RSL always looked after its members first. He was a great supporter of our welfare and pension work and many local veterans are now better off due to Barry's unconditional support.

Denny also noted that Barry over the last 15 years had played a role, along with many others, in organising Anzac Day and Remembrance Day ceremonies in Cranbourne—and they are very, very well attended. Denny, who is the secretary of the Vietnam Veterans Motorcycle Club, Gippsland Chapter, was also proud of Barry's efforts in allowing the chapter to ride their motorbikes in the annual Anzac Day march down the main street of Cranbourne, a tradition that started in 2004 and has continued ever since. According to Denny, Barry also supported the chapter's work with the veterans at the club's drop-in centre at Longwarry North. Barry was responsible for securing computers and printers for veterans' use, and they are still being utilised today.

Denny first met Barry at the Cranbourne RSL some eight to nine years ago, but throughout their friendship Denny always saw him as a gentleman. According to Denny:

Even though his health was failing, he still had nothing but kind words for those around him. I am indeed saddened by his loss. Lest we forget.

Prior to his work at the Cranbourne RSL, Barry worked at a concrete grooving firm for over 20 years. Through his work as a concrete grooving expert at this firm, he had the opportunity to work on some major international projects in Hong Kong, Japan and Malaysia, as well as domestic projects in Hobart and in Melbourne such as the initial West Gate Bridge construction and reconstruction of the Port Melbourne Pier. Barry's funeral service took place earlier today in Cranbourne and from all reports it was a great send off for him. There was a large guard of honour from the Clyde Fire Brigade, the Cranbourne RSL Bowls Club and from the Cranbourne RSL and members who served with him from the Monash University Regiment. Many attendees commented on the fact that he was a die-hard Collingwood fan—that is a very good thing—and that he was fortunate to see them win another premiership in 2010. Attendees also paid tribute to his down-to-earth nature.

To Barry's wife, Carole Jones, his children, Michelle, Amanda and Caryn, grandchild, Tayler, and son in laws, Tony and Kevin, I wish to express my sincere condolences for your loss. I hope in some way this speech will appropriately acknowledge Barry's substantial contribution to the community and encourage others to volunteer their time with local community organisations in order to help others. On a more personal note, I valued my time with Barry. I found him to be an absolute gentleman. He was a man who embodied what it meant to be a member of the RSL. He worked passionately and tirelessly for his members. He will be very sincerely missed.