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Monday, 10 August 2015
Page: 7769

Mr GRIFFIN (Bruce) (13:08): I join with others in offering my sincere condolences at the passing of Don Randall—a real character and a guy whom I have known for the best part of 20 years in this place. Like many, with someone on the other side you can often spend years where you nod at the them in the corridor but you do not really talk much with them. Unless you are on a committee or you have some sort of personal involvement with them, they are someone you know of but not necessarily know so well. But I came to have a view of Don over the years and, yes, he was a man of strong beliefs. He was a man who said what he thought. Sometimes he probably should have thought about it a bit more before he said it—but then we have all done that. He was also a very committed parliamentarian. Where I did come to know him—and I just want to outline two or three little events in my time with Don, just to highlight what I think encapsulated him as a man—was in relation to that issue of his strong beliefs. It was when I was a minister and Don was giving an adjournment speech. He was a guy who basically believed that adjournment speeches were a very important part of what local members do and a very important opportunity for them to get on the record the issues they care about. In this particular speech, he was dropping a bucket—that is the truth of it—on some ALP political figures from Western Australian—not that there are many to choose from. But the thing was that he was dropping a bucket, and I was the minister at the table. In those circumstances, your job is to put them off their game. So, of course, I got up and I did a point of order, I did another point of order and then I did another point of order. I used up a fair chunk of his time—and jeez he was pissed! But I left it at that, and I thought that that was pretty much it.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Mr Broadbent ): I take it you mean he was upset.

Mr GRIFFIN: I thought that is what I said, Mr Deputy Speaker. A couple of days later, I was at the airport. I had thought nothing of it. It is what we do in this place, as we all know. Don came up to me in the lounge and he gave me a talking to in severe terms about the fact that you should not use up a local member's time to be able to put issues on the record, even in the circumstances where maybe you thought they were pushing it a bit far. I said, 'Well, you know, I understand your point but I don't back away from what I did.' That said something about him as a man, about how he viewed his job and about the fact that he was prepared to have a go.

At that stage you would say, 'Well, it's not the greatest relationship.' But then—and it was mentioned by others—I went to the Middle East with Don and a number of other members, including the member for Longman. I spent direct time with Don there, seeing what our defence forces were doing in Afghanistan, and I came to like him—I came to like him a lot. I gathered then, much more than I had before, the fact that he was a really genuine bloke. And the thing about him was that, although he always had strong views, you could actually talk to him; you could discuss issues. Although you would often agree to disagree, you could at least come away with a firm view that he understood what you were saying and that he appreciated it, even if he did not agree—and vice versa. I also found that in dealing with him around issues of Sri Lanka. I have a large Sri Lankan community in my electorate, and Don had very firm views about the need for peace in Sri Lanka and also about how you achieve that peace. I do not think we had substantial disagreements on those issues but we did have some disagreements on emphasis. You could talk to him about those issues. He genuinely wanted to know what you thought and he was prepared to talk it through.

And then he was a funny bugger. He was genuinely funny. I remember the last night that we were in the Middle East, when we were at dinner, waiting to leave from the airport in Dubai. After probably one bottle of red, or maybe it was two—there were four of us—I reckon I had one of the funniest dinners I have ever had in my life, and I think the member for Longman would agree. I came away from that dinner in stitches. You would have paid money to get that sort of entertainment.

He was a genuine bloke. He had a larrikin streak. He was the sort of guy where you might have looked at him and thought: what is he on about? But, once you actually spoke to him, once you actually got to know him, you realised there was a lot more there. To his family, to his staff, to his friends, I really, really, feel your loss. I think it is something that will live with all of you all your lives, but I think you will also have the memories of a great Australian and it will be something that you will also carry with you for all of your lives, because he lived life to the full, with gusto, and he left it all on the field. Vale Don Randall—a good bloke and a great Australian.