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Thursday, 17 June 2010
Page: 5811

Mr LAMING (9:42 AM) —I rise today to remember the life of Grahame Rees, who was a Comcar driver in this place. Grahame was born on 20 December 1950 in Canberra hospital to parents Beryl and Ken. For every one of us that works here and jumps into the cars with these extraordinary men and women—so often preoccupied as we are by what is on the radio news or what is on our mobile phone—it is important, I think, to pause and remember this incredible group of people who flank our building and make it work, who connect us to our lives while we are in the city of Canberra.

Grahame was one of these people. You could not help but get in the car and have a chat. He was a man who had enormous passions—golf, fishing and his family—and I was one of the privileged few young members who got to meet him while he was driving. He was also a keen team mate of a gentleman by the name of Kevin Grace, whom I lived with for the first three years I was in Canberra. I will paraphrase the eulogy of his son Todd, which was delivered at the funeral. In Grahame’s early years he lived in Queanbeyan with his sister, Yvonne. The eulogy explained that their father Ken worked as the station master of Queanbeyan railway station. Ken was later transferred to Darling Harbour and their family home was built in Kogarah, where Grahame attended James Cook High. In his formative years his parents and the family became involved with the Uniting Church in Rockdale, and later the Salvation Army. Grahame met his wife in 1969 and they were married in 1972. He worked for Elders Stock and Station Agency and was transferred to Cooma in 1973. Three years later he began working with the Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation—SMEC—and expanded his interest in sport by playing rugby, tennis and cricket. The last was a lifelong passion for Grahame. In 1988 his home was established in Spence and Grahame began his career in Humanitarian Aid.

That allows me to pause and reflect on just how wide and varied the careers of many of the men and women who drive Comcars are. I am sure many of them have even more fascinating backgrounds than we do. In that time Grahame became involved with overseas aid organisations, frequently travelling to war-torn countries in Africa such as Rwanda, Somalia, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe and Kenya.

The final part of Todd’s eulogy read:

Dad assumed onerous responsibilities from coordinating supplies to refugees, which included food, clothing, tents and medicines. In recognition of this, he received the Humanitarian Overseas Service Medal in early 2000.

During our early lives, Dad coached our Soccer Teams and was thrilled when Grant began to share his passion for Cricket. Dad would often be seen umpiring or scoring when Grant began playing competitively and making ACT representative sides.

Dads other passion was fishing and our family holidays were spent at Tuross Head’s in our grandparents’ holiday house. Dad taught all three of us (and Mum) how to fish, and in particular spent many hours with Todd and Pa beach fishing at all hours of the day and night.

I know Dad was very proud of my achievements, especially when I graduated from University and started working with the AFP forensics team.

Dad was very excited when my nephew Zac was born in 2005 just four days before his birthday, and flew to South West Rocks to see him when he was just a few days old.

In the last seven years, Dad has been very involved with Gungahlin Lakes Golf Club—doing something that he really enjoyed. Being such a sports fan it seems appropriate if you are going to depart, then the golf course is as good a place as any.

It was at the golf club, through Kevin Grace, that our paths crossed. Many of us have seen amazing contributions made by Comcar drivers, none more than Grahame Rees, and I am glad that I had the chance to meet this man.