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Monday, 13 February 2017
Page: 843


Mr DRUM (Murray) (13:12): I would like to congratulate the member for Berowra, Julian Leeser, for bringing to the parliament this motion in relation to the Australia Day 2017 honours list. I have the opportunity here to talk about a range of community minded champions in my electorate of Murray who have received various awards on Australia Day. We have two members of the Order of Australia, four new medals of the Order of Australia and 62 people who received Australian citizenship at the ceremony in Shepparton.

Firstly, the members of my electorate who received a Medal of the Order of Australia. Brian Cossar, from Yarrawonga, was honoured for his service to veterans and their families through the RSL and Legacy. Brian served in the Vietnam War. Bruce Pigdon, also from Yarrawonga, was honoured for his services to Yarrawonga Health. He has been on the Yarrawonga Health Board as a director for 23 years. Eleanor Hardie, from Echuca, had a significant career with the Mid Murray Flying Club as a director from 1966 to 2004 and with the Royal Federation of Aero Clubs as a board member from 1998 to 2008. Malcolm Whyte, from Echuca, has a record of amazing service to youth and has been recognised for his work with the scout group, the Echuca primary school, the Echuca Historical Society, the Apex Club, the Navigation Society and the Echuca Port restoration.

In relation to members of the Order of Australia, Mr John Dainton was given this honour. He was recognised for his significant service to the environment through natural resource management. In the 1980s, John carried out critical work in fixing salinity throughout the Goulburn Valley. He was paramount in the formation of the Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority. He is extremely excited about this award, although he was at pains to suggest that this is very much a team effort.

Also we have an absolute champion in the Goulburn Valley. The Order of Australia medal was given posthumously to Chris McPherson. Chris McPherson had an amazing career in the print industry as one of the McPherson media family. He had grown up in this particular industry. As soon as he could walk he was tearing around the offices of the Shepparton News,fidgeting on his grandpa's knee and scampering out amongst the printing machines. He also mixed his love of cars and speed with his work in getting to the Kyabram Free Press on time. Sometimes he created a bit of a cloud of dust when he was dropping off various amounts of copy for the next publication to go out.

I think Chris is going to be best remembered not only for his love of newspapers, cars and speed, and the Melbourne Football Club but for his love of family and the work he did in the last 10 years of his life in relation to the Biggest Ever Blokes Lunch, which he founded in Shepparton and has since spread right around the state of Victoria and Australia, raising more than $2.8 million for the Prostate Cancer Foundation. This work has enabled so many normal, everyday Australians, particularly men, to understand the dangers and harm in doing nothing and taking it for granted that they will be one of the lucky ones. It is continually pushing people—pushing men—to hear the stories of those who were taking their health for granted and not getting the test done. The message is: go and see your GP, make sure you get tested and keep control of your bloods. I think this will be the work that Chris McPherson is going to be best remembered for, but he was an amazing board member of the GOTAFE as well.

He was the Australian Volunteer of the Year in 2015 in recognition of the amount of work that he put into raising these phenomenal amounts of money. I was lucky to play a small part in bringing the Biggest Ever Blokes Lunch from Shepparton across to Bendigo, which was one of the very first places outside of its birthplace place in Shepparton to run the Biggest Ever Blokes Lunch. It has grown and grown since those early days. This year we had bowel cancer contributions to the program as well. We are going to find now a whole range of specialists employed to assist with the detection to ensure that people take a proactive role in the fight against prostate cancer. Certainly the work that Chris McPherson, along with his great friend Graeme Johnson, did in this field in 2009 to get this thing started has raised money and spread the word not to take your health for granted.