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Tuesday, 24 February 2015
Page: 1194


Mr GRAY (Brand) (21:19): Madam Speaker, I would like to present a eulogy for Dennis Christopher 'Dinny' Lane. This is a story of a man with a big heart, of a good life, of a man who loved life and of a life well lived. It is a story of a Catholic life and it is part of the story of Western Australia's grain belt. Dinny Lane was born in Perth on 19 February 1929, the eve of the Great Depression. He was the eldest son of Florence Margaret Lane and Christopher Joseph Lane, known locally as Marj and CJ. Dinny Lane was a leader—whether in business or in the community—as part of a can-do generation that did the fundraising at the busy-bee, enjoying a cuppa or a beer afterwards and thinking, 'Now that job's done, what's next?'

Dinny was a farming leader. He was known as a man who sought professional advice to drive his business, with innovations like clover and rye grass to boost production. This same drive characterised pig production, where he pursued greater returns via direct selling to processors through weight and grade and the use of objective breeding values such as back fat testing and daily growth rates. He expanded by entering into a partnership with the D'Orsogna family, and others, to form Westpork. This was his calling until his retirement in the 1990s.

Dinny lead his family by example in work ethic, faith, community and love. Dinny Lane was always early, never late. He was dedicated to community service. He was always the last to leave—after tidying up. CJ and Marj farmed at Walgoolan, where CJ cleared land with his brother Dennis. This was not a successful venture as the Great Depression and its aftermath saw the price of wheat plunge and their machinery repossessed. They moved to another farm, in Warralakin, in 1934 which enabled Dinny to attend school with his siblings Barry, Maureen and Rosalie, my wife's mother. Times were tough. The bank owned the farm and took all the proceeds, returning some funds for superphosphate and spare parts and 30 shillings a week for housekeeping. CJ had to clear the land and fence all the paddocks.

The farm had some good years, but when grasshoppers cleared the crop overnight in 1942, CJ set out to find a better farm. He was able to sign a three-year lease on a property at North Baandee. Dinny turned 14, left school and began his working life by helping to build a new house and helping with the move from Warralakin. He began a short apprenticeship driving horses, which lasted until he was 21. Then they bought a tractor.

Dinny also worked around the district and on one job earned good wages of two pounds a week plus keep. It took two weeks wages to buy his first suit with long pants. Dinny and Barry went shearing, which earned them enough money to start share farming at Doodlakine and at Hines Hill. They continued shearing to supplement their income. During these years Dinny's social life revolved around the church, dances, family times, cricket, football and tennis. Dinny met Elizabeth Williams through Maureen and Rose, who all went to school in Kellerberrin. Elizabeth, known locally as Tiny, worked as a telephonist at the Kellerberrin PMG. Dinny and Tiny married on 13 April 1955.

Dinny took on a property at Nokaning. One of the points in favour of this property was its proximity to scheme water drawn from C Y O'Connor's pipeline to Kalgoorlie. Dinny took on contract shearing to bring in a regular income and he ran a few pigs. Shearing took him away from the property, leaving Tiny on her own with their first son, Phillip. Sometimes as Dinny drove home at the end of the day's shearing and he knew, if there were no lights on, the generator had failed. Dinny decided that he could run more pigs and be at home all the time. This was the beginning of a long innovative career in the pig industry. It also kept the generator running all day.

Over the years, guided by strong faith and love, Dinny and Tiny were blessed by the births of Yvonne, Heather, Ian and Kerry. Together they bore the tragic loss of Kevin and Phillip. In the early 1970s Dinny applied to the bank for a loan to build a new house for their growing family and to build some pig sheds for his growing herd. In 1972 Nokaning Farms partnership was formed with the Maughan families and Ray Snell, joining the farms together to better manage semi-intensive farming, lowering the costs of production. Dinny managed the newly established intensive Nokaning Piggery. Although Dinny retired in the 1990s, he never completely left the farm, maintaining status of Chairman of the Board, keeping an eye out for the latest ideas and enjoying seeing the advances in agricultural technology. Dinny established a successful family business that has extended into the three generations.

Dinny was involved in community and sporting groups. A local commented, 'Dinny can go from one meeting to the another, change hats and make a worthy contribution to the next.' Some of those activities included Junior Farmers, tennis club, the football club and Eastern Districts Football League, the Bush Fire Brigade, the Hall committee St Mary's Catholic Church, the Knights of the Southern Cross, school organisations, WA Farmers, the Western Australian and federal pork industry advisory councils, the Merredin Repertory Club and the Merredin Civic Bowling Club. Dinny was a Merredin Shire councillor for 12 years. There was the Merrittville Retirement Village, Beringa Frail Aged Hostel and Permanent Care Nursing Home, the Merredin Senior Centre and the men's shed.

Tiny kept the home fires or the chip heater burning. Whether Dinny was heading off to the eastern states for some meeting or other, off to the ag show or off to Perth in the truck, Tiny managed the family home.

Dinny was the patriarch of a strong family. The eldest of his generation, he was a guide, mentor and supportive friend to all. Dinny's faith and matter-of-fact outlook was a source of comfort, support and direction.

Family and social events were treasured times. Dinny was a keen participant. He enjoyed the company of family and friends, often telling stories and tales of past times. His rapport with the younger generation grew from an interest in their lives and in innovation.

In retirement Dinny and Tiny travelled north, south, east and west in their four-wheel drive ute and caravan. Dinny suffered ill health since turning 80 but was appreciative that he was able to benefit from the advances in modern medicine. Dinny died suddenly. We are grateful that he went quickly and peacefully at Merredin hospital on Friday, 16 January 2015, when finally his big and generous heart failed.