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Monday, 10 August 2015
Page: 7763


Mr DUTTON (DicksonMinister for Immigration and Border Protection) (12:39): When I came into the parliament in 2001, Don befriended me immediately. It was not because we had come into the parliament at the same time; it was because I defeated Cheryl Kernot in the seat of Dickson. The Leader of the House alluded to that infamous story a little earlier. We went on to become good friends. Each Tuesday when parliament was sitting we would go to Timmy's Kitchen—a group of colleagues, whom one of my small 'l' Liberal friends used to refer to as 'the book burners club'; it was made up of conservative colleagues—and talk about issues of the day. All of you know that Don had an infectious chuckle—this little laugh—and on occasion at that lunch he would regale us with different stories. His favourite was always the Cheryl Kernot story and, in his view, his ultimate vindication was in the words he spoke in this parliament.

He became a good friend to many of us over the years, because he was, as the Prime Minister and others have said, a great character. Over the course of the last couple of weeks—indeed, over the course of the last couple of years—when people's view of parliamentarians has not been as high as it should, many have said that we should have more characters in this place. They think of an earlier period in our history when great names spoke at this dispatch box and graced the halls of the predecessor to this building. He was, in the modern age, a great character and a person to whom we can all be very grateful and we can certainly be grateful to the people of Canning that they delivered him into this parliament.

I would like to touch on a couple of points. A lot has been said about Don and I add my support to all of those comments. He was a person who loved his family. I remember as shadow health minister going to his electorate for his autism walk. He was with Tess on this particular day; he was incredibly proud of the fact that he was joined by his daughter. I went to his home afterwards, and the love he had for Julie and for Elliott was obvious during that visit. On that occasion I recall very distinctly going into a couple of schools where he had an immediate and obvious connection with the principals but with the schoolchildren as well. It spoke to his love of life; it spoke to his love of children and making sure that they succeeded in life. That one visit in and of itself said so much to me of Don and the character that he was and that he brought to his place. And we celebrate that life today.

As the Minister for Social Services, the member for Grey and others said earlier, I was texting with Don on the Friday before his passing to follow up conversations we had had in relation to an Iranian woman. He felt very strongly about this particular case—there were other cases that he came to see me about as the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection—but he was particularly exercised in relation to this matter because he thought this young woman was at particular risk in Iran. He was desperate to find a new life for her under the Women at Risk program. And yet if you spoke to members in this parliament about the day-to-day Don or if you spoke to people who were viewing his performance in question time, they would not have seen that side of Don—that side of Don would not have immediately sprung to their conscience. On many occasions he represented people who faced a very dim outlook. He lobbied me particularly on border protection with our good friend Sri Lanka, with whom over recent years we have shared an absolute resolve to deal with a very difficult issue for both of our countries. He was professional in those dealings, but he was relentless.

I can remember when I first came into this parliament I sat up the back near where the member for Fisher and the member for Brisbane now sit. I was joined in those days by Alby Schultz, whom we bid farewell to a few weeks ago, as well as the then member for Barker, Patrick Secker, and others. These were great characters of the parliament. Generally in the hurly burly and the exchange of ideas and comments in question time, Don led that charge. He would make us laugh, he would make us cringe, but he would make us proud. Don sat not too far away from the front bench here. We often exchanged comments and barbs with those across the table and quite often you could hear Don interjecting in debates. He added to those debates—he made this a great chamber, not only one where we could exchange ideas but also one where we could strongly stand for what we believed in. He was a person who strongly stood for what he believed in.

Don will be missed by all of us. Our Tuesday club lunch mourns the passing of Alby Shultz as well as, now, Don Randall. I remember learning of Don's passing through a text that I received as I landed in Brisbane, I think it was, on the day he died. I received a text from Kirilly saying what terrible news about Don, and I texted back and said 'What do you mean?' It was such an untimely passing. All of us who knew him knew him to be very proud of his service in this parliament. I remember him saying on more than one occasion at lunch that he would never repeat the mistake of 1998, and he never did. He fought hard for what he believed in; he fought hard for his local constituency and for that they were very grateful. He had the great support of his staff, who spoke so eloquently at his funeral. They relayed stories of why they believed so strongly in what he was doing and why they fought so hard for him to remain in this place.

Most of all, Don loved his family. He spoke warmly of trips he and Julie had taken part in. He spoke very warmly of Elliott growing up and Tess's involvement in his political life. We express to his family and to his extended family, as well as to his staff and all of his colleagues who loved him dearly, our deepest condolences at this very sad time. He will be missed—he was a great member for Canning but, most importantly, he was a great family man.