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Tuesday, 16 June 2009
Page: 6180

Mr WOOD (4:18 PM) —I rise today to pay tribute to Rinie Van Zwol, a loving husband and father and a constituent of my electorate of La Trobe. I first met Rinie last August over a council matter. Rinie and his wife, Dianne, use an access road on an abandoned quarry to reach their home, which has no driveway. The local council were restricting the Van Zwols’ access to the driveway, access Rinie needed as he was receiving chemotherapy for Hodgkin’s lymphoma and was not strong enough to walk down the steps to the street. Rinie was diagnosed with cancer in May last year and frequently needed to visit the hospital. What struck me when I first met Rinie was that he was not concerned about the effect the council dispute was having on his health but was more concerned about the effect that it was having on his wife. That was Rinie Van Zwol in a nutshell: always putting the concerns of those he loved before himself.

Earlier this year, on Black Saturday, Rinie and Dianne were dealt another cruel blow when the fire broke out on the land adjacent to the property in Upper Ferntree Gully. Their neighbour, Paul Erlandsen, heroically led them to safety. However, their home was extensively damaged by smoke and water which dropped from a water-bombing helicopter. After facing cancer, a hostile council and nearly losing their home, you would think there was not much more which could go wrong for Rinie and Dianne. However, tragically, several weeks ago Rinie and Dianne were advised that his cancer had returned. But Rinie refused to let this diagnosis bring him down. He was determined to go out with a fight. It was an attitude he carried his entire life, from his time in the Army Reserve as a nasho driving Army trucks to raising a family—to do his best in all his endeavours.

Rinie fought and won many of the battles he encountered but ultimately lost the war. Sadly, Rinie passed away last Monday, 9 June, just one month and one day shy of his 60th birthday. He left behind his beloved wife, Dianne, and son, Renae, and many grieving family members and friends. I pay tribute to all those residents in Quarry Road, especially Mal Cameron, who first informed me about the battle Rinie was having with the council. It is just an amazing street. All the residents help each other out. Rinie earned respect and admiration for the grace with which he handled the adversity he faced. I am proud that I had the opportunity to represent Rinie Van Zwol and his wife, Dianne, and prouder to say that Rinie was a friend.