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Monday, 10 August 2015
Page: 7786

Mr WYATT (Hasluck) (14:25): I rise to offer my condolences to Julie, Tess and Elliott—Don Randall's family—and to Chloe and Team Randall. I wish to associate myself with the comments made by all of my parliamentary colleagues because they have encapsulated the essence of who Don was and what he meant to each and everyone of us in different ways. I first heard about Don when we both worked in education. He was at Lymburner Primary School and I happened to be in central office. My wife, Anna, taught with him 33 years ago and then she taught with Don's wife, Julie, at Tranby. I first met Julie when one day my wife and I went to Brumbies to get some bread and buns for a family event. When we got there Julie, who I did not know then, was busy talking to Anna. They had been speaking for about five minutes and then Anna said to Julie, 'I'd better introduce you to Ken.' That is when I met Julie. I will always remember her standing behind the counter and the conversation we had about Don's commitment to his work. After that, I went back and had a look at his parliamentary record in terms of the committees he served on and the delegations he participated in. More importantly, I looked at some of the positions he held in this parliament at different times. He was shadow parliamentary secretary assisting the Leader of the Opposition and Shadow cabinet secretary from 6 December 2007 to 22 September 2008; shadow parliamentary secretary for energy and resources from 22 September 2008 to 10 November 2008; shadow parliamentary secretary for roads and transport from 10 November 2008 to 14 September 2010; and shadow parliamentary secretary for local government from 14 September 2010. I know they were positions he relished because I often had conversations with him.

When I nominated for the seat of Hasluck, Don was one of the first people to ring me. He said, 'Mate, it's about time.' He had tried to talk me into it several years before and I had said I was not interested in standing for a seat. Hasluck was still open—it had not closed its considerations—and three of my state colleagues had been saying I should get a real job. I already had a job at the health department but I said I would think about it. They said: 'The seat of Hasluck still available. Why don't you nominate?' I had finished that conversation with the three state colleagues and then Lizzie Behjat, in particular, told Don Randall that she had spoken to me about nominating for the seat of Hasluck. Don then spoke to me on the phone for a good 30 minutes about why I should seriously consider becoming a member of the Australian parliament. He said there were things that we could do. He paid me a compliment by saying that the style of interaction I have with people would be good for constituents in my seat. I thought about it and then I eventually said to him that I would nominate.

What I did not know was that Don had rung Julie Bishop, who then rang Danielle Blain. Don rang several key people of the Liberal Party and started to lobby quietly. He never shared that with me until Danielle Blain said that the person who had been lobbying behind the scenes for me was Don Randall. She said he was very effusive and complimentary in the comments he made. So I started that journey. During the process, Don, Steve and I would often talk about things together, but Don always gave me advice. He would tell me about how best to campaign in a seat like Hasluck. He would talk about the dynamics of the relationships that one had to build up with constituents. He gave me tangible examples of what he did, and so I tried them. The best advice he gave me was: 'Do not listen exclusively to the advice of Liberal Party headquarters. Go with your own intuition; go with your gut feeling about how you are reading it with the people whose doors you are knocking on, because that is the thing that will give you the opportunity of being elected.' So the friendship grew strongly. I enjoyed all of the things that we did at different times.

One of the best nights we ever had was when Steve and Cheryle, Don and Julie and Anna and I sat on our front patio for a barbecue meal. We talked about politics. We talked about our families, the love for our families and the friendships that we had. What always came through with Don was: the people he liked, he cared for. He would always be there for them and he always considered them. There were times when I would be doing something in my office and the phone would ring. He would say, 'Mate, I've just picked up some information. I want to compliment you on what you've done.' He was always nurturing and mentoring. One of the things that I loved about him was that he gave of his time.

In the chamber, he would call out, I would look around and he would give me that cheeky smile. He would wrinkle his nose and say, 'Kenny, turn around.' The last time he did that was the last week he was here. He yelled out a couple of comments, and I heard Russell Broadbent say, 'That's inappropriate, Don.' I turned around and looked at him. He just wrinkled his nose and said, 'Kenny—shush! Turn around!' That is the interaction that we had with Don. When I sat on the other side of the chamber, I was just two seats away from him, so I would hear him call out frequently. Occasionally, I would look at him and he would say, 'Don't give me a disapproving look. I know what I'm doing. You should call out more often.' I used to call out, but my voice was always drowned out by others that were much stronger.

Don has been there all through my political career. He was there in many ways because I got to know Tess. There was an incident one time that involved Tess, and I intervened. I did not say anything more; I did not say anything to Don. The next morning he came in and saw me. He said, 'Mate, thank you for what you did for my daughter last night.' I said, 'It's just normal.' He said, 'No, no. It means a lot to me. Those who support my family, I respect. You took the time to do it.'

I loved his mischievous humour. We would have conversations. On the night before he died Anna said to me, 'Ring Don.' I said, 'No, I'll ring him in the morning.' She said, 'Ring him now before you go to bed. I know you; you'll forget.' So I called Don, and he and I talked for an hour. We talked about you, Bronnie. He shared with me a text message he had sent to you. What he demonstrated was the absolute care and respect that he had for the office of Speaker but also for a friend who was in trouble. I saw that time and time again. When Don was in trouble sometimes, there were people who contacted him. When he was under siege by the media in Perth over the Cairns incident, I used to ring him each morning from my car. Anna would be in the car and we would ring to have a chat to see how he was travelling. He said, 'I'm fine, but what's getting me is the media spotlight on my children, my wife and my family. To me, they are sacrosanct.' It reinforced to me the point that Anna had made to me several times because of her knowledge of the family and their friendships—that is, the love and strength of the Randall family. It was always evident, in all of the times she had dealings with them. On that same night, when we had finished the conversation, Don said, 'Julie, the kids and I are going to Happy Meals Chinese Restaurant in East Victoria Park; would you and Anna like to join us?' I asked Anna, and I said, 'Yes.' We were looking forward to it, but it did not happen.

Three weeks before that we had called Don and Julie to see if they were doing anything. We dropped over with a bottle of red. Every time that I took a bottle of red to Don, he would say, 'Don't bring that cheap red wine'—it would not matter how much you had spent on the bottle. I said to Anna the previous time we were at Don's, 'Have a look at the label of that bottle and then bring the details to me.' She did that—she took the details off the label. So, the next time, I bought a bottle of wine with those exact details and took it to Don's. Julie, Don and I were sitting there. Elliott was heading off to an event; he was in all of his splendour—black suit, white shirt—and was looking forward to an evening out. When I gave Don the wine he said, 'You've brought that same cheap crap that you always bring. I'll have to blend it with my red.' That is what he always did—he used to blend my reds with his. I waited until the end of the night and said, 'Mate, have a look at the label that you have over there.' It was the same. He just gave me one of those grins that he normally did.

It was so surreal for me when I was in my office and James Massola rang me. He said, 'Ken, can I just ask you if you are aware of something I've just seen.' I said, 'What are you talking about?' He said, 'Don Randall was found dead in his car at Boddington.' I just went cold. I said to James, 'You've got it wrong. I was only talking to Don last night. That's not possible.' I mentioned that he had events organised. He was playing golf with Steve a couple days later. Then they had golf on Saturday. We had talked about it. James then said, 'Well, mate, I'm, just telling you; I don't want any comment.' And I did not give him a comment.

To me, it signified the end of an incredible man whose commitment in this chamber, through his committee work, in his delegations and in his parliamentary secretary roles, was not matched by others whom I knew personally. He taught me to respect constituents regardless of the issue they had, that the most important thing you did as an elected representative was to focus on people within the electorate. We used to talk things through, and I understood exactly, when I started to do some of those things myself, what he had meant—that when you listen and you engage then you do win people's trust and they recognise that you are there helping them. I admired his capacity to stand up in the party room and challenge issues that were of concern to many. But Don was never afraid to speak his truth in those matters, and he would openly challenge the way in which our party was doing things.

I know that it seems strange that Don was born on 2 May 1953 in Merredin, in Western Australia—a country town, a country kid. He used to share some of his stories. I want to make a comment about the Apology. It is cited in documents, and I know, from my discussions with him, that Don was committed to making a difference for Indigenous Australians. There are people who attended his funeral who are strong in their Labor views—Aboriginal people. They were at his farewell, and I spoke to one of them, who said, 'I didn't agree with his politics, but I respected Don for what he did for us and what he did for Aboriginal people within his electorate.' So, I know that his commitment was not just the Clontarf Foundation; it went much further than that. There would be times when Don would ring me and ask for my thoughts on an issue, and we would share them. His country connection was strong, and, in a sense, he died in the country, at Boddington. So the rural kid who came from a country town and stood within this chamber and at the national level never lost his connection to country. He played a very critical and important role.

After I heard that information from James Massola, later than evening Anna and I rang Steve and Cheryle and asked, 'How are you guys?' They were feeling the same pain we felt, so we got together, and it gave us the opportunity to share our thoughts and feelings. I went back to Don's maiden speech, because I think these epitomised Don. On 6 May 1996 Don said this:

It is a humbling experience to join with these colleagues and newly elected members from around Australia to form the first federal coalition government in 13 years. It is with a sense of gratitude to the Australian people, and the people of Swan in particular, that I serve my first term in this House on the government benches.

Don was always humble. I was at a dinner on Saturday night and a colleague of mine who was at that dinner asked about Don, because he knew Don from education as well. He said to me, 'You know Julie and Don taught together, and that is when the relationship began.' He shared some views about what great teachers they were—but more importantly, he said, great people.

And that is Don. He was passionate and optimistic about the coalition's policies for the development of small business, the opportunities they provide in terms of the economy, employment and individual growth and determination. The only thing I did not do was play golf with him, and I wish I had, now. Steve had that incredible privilege. I know that if I had gone out with you two I would have been searching for my golf ball in the bushes, and I know that Don would have said, 'Drop a ball and hit it; don't worry about the count.' Don also said:

As a father and a husband I am aware of the difficulties which families in my electorate face on a daily basis. In a climate where the family's future has not had a great amount of security, it is important that this government supports the family in every way. In order to be truly representative, the government needs to respond to the family's changing needs and wants.

He went on to say:

I committed to the voters of Swan that I would represent them in this place with respect and dignity. The people of Australia cannot be expected to have confidence in their federal representatives if those representatives treat the parliament with disrespect.

I want to say that Don Randall not only was a good friend to Anna and I and other colleagues in this chamber but was a tremendous mentor and a great teacher. He leaves an indelible mark on so many because of the way he cared for people around him. And I saw his love for his family on many occasions. To Julie, Tess and Elliot, we will remember the contribution that you husband, your father, made.