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Tuesday, 2 February 2016
Page: 39


Mr SHORTEN (MaribyrnongLeader of the Opposition) (14:11): On behalf of our Labor family, I pay my respects to a proud son of our movement and a great leader of South Australia. John Bannon was a man apart—an introvert in an industry dominated by extroverts, a traditionalist who modernised his state, a historian focused on the future, a distance runner who rose to the Premier's office at a sprinter's pace and a modest man with much to be proud of.

When John was just 16 his family was rocked by tragedy when his 10-year-old brother Nicholas got lost on a family bushwalk in the Flinders Ranges. Despite a massive search effort, his body would not be recovered for two years. This loss left a deep mark on John. Many friends believed that his famous unstinting determination was drawn in part from a sense of duty to his brother's memory.

As South Australia's longest-serving Labor Premier, John transformed the state into a competitive economy and Adelaide into a very modern city. Arguably, he was the father of the submarine industry in Australia when he brought it to South Australia. John Bannon cleared the way for mining work at Roxby Downs. Along with a casino and a grand prix, he gave Adelaide a new sense of itself and a new sense of self-confidence. John's belief in his state as a place worthy of big events did not end when he left office. It underwrote his 15 years as a member of the South Australian Cricket Association board. And just as his passion for progress drove his work on the National Indigenous Cricket Advisory Council, it drove his belief in better engaging remote communities through sport.

As the Prime Minister said, at John's funeral his daughter Victoria spoke of her father's lifelong love of running. Incredibly, between 1969 and 2007, he completed 28 Adelaide marathons—11 of them under the three-hour mark. Victoria asked how her father kept going. He replied: 'The decision to stop or keep going should never come up. You decide at the start how far you want to go, and that is how far you go. This is at the core, I believe, of the beliefs that made him, John Bannon, a great Premier, a strong reformer, a champion for progress. It gave him the fortitude and integrity to accept full responsibility for the collapse of the state bank when so many other individuals and events actually owned a share of the crisis.

John Bannon has earned his place in the pantheon of Labor heroes. He has served his state with honour and he filled every unforgiving minute with 60 seconds worth of distance run. We remember him. We honour him. May he rest in peace.

The SPEAKER: As a mark of respect to the memory of John Bannon, I ask all present to signify their approval by rising in their places.

Honourable members having stood in their places—

The SPEAKER: I thank the House.