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Monday, 10 August 2015
Page: 7793


Mrs BRONWYN BISHOP (Mackellar) (15:00): I rise, Julie, Tess and Elliott, to say that Don was a wonderful friend—generous, caring and loyal. In the recent troubles that I have endured, the very first message I received was from Don. As we have just heard from Ken Wyatt, the very last one I received from him came in those circumstances where he was once again thinking about me. Don and I enjoyed a terrific friendship—full of fun, of dinners, of my being able to be a guest in your home and know you as a family and how you cared for each other. We shared many friends in common outside the parliament as well as in. When I received the news of his death I, like others, was just leaving the funeral of Alby Schultz, the member for Hume, about whom we will no doubt be speaking later in this sitting of parliament. I had just buried one friend about whom I had spoken and then lost another. My tears flowed—and then I thought of you and how you were going to face the loss of someone who loved you so desperately. What we have heard in this place about Don's love for his family was very true. It was palpable—you could see it; he expressed it continually. Julie, you were his soulmate. Tess, he had such ambitions for you—and for you, Elliott, as well. When I spoke to Chloe on the phone, because I wanted to get a message through, she told me the sequence of events as they had unfurled. I thought how appropriate that he had pulled that car into the kerb—he would have been thinking about others right then.

We have heard a lot about Don the local member and, I have to say, I share every sentiment about our first duty being as a local member and caring for the people in your care as your constituents. Well I remember when Don lost the seat of Swan, and well I remember his determination to win Canning. Well I remember campaigning with him often in the seat of Canning—and to campaign with Don was to have a packed itinerary. It was full of people—interacting with people, hearing their problems, what could we do to assist them, how could we improve their lives. That was always at the forefront of what we were doing in that campaign. But Don was also a shadow frontbencher. He served as the shadow cabinet secretary to the Leader of the Opposition, he served as the shadow parliamentary secretary for energy and resources, and he served as the shadow parliamentary secretary for local government and for roads and transport. He, like others in this place, served as a person committed to his electorate but who was able to take on other tasks and do them well. He suffered a disappointments, too, but I guess those things bind friends together even more strongly.

The friendships that he developed in what we have heard was his foreign affairs role were genuine and real. We have heard a lot about Sri Lanka and we have heard about Cuba, but he also had a very strong commitment and friendship with Japan. Many a dinner would be shared with people from the Japanese embassy talking about the ways in which the ties between our countries could be strengthened. Shortly after the news of what had happened to Don became public I received in my office a call from the former High Commissioner for Sri Lanka, Admiral Thisara Samarasinghe. He rang as a friend; he rang as someone who as High Commissioner had benefited from the parliamentary friendship group which Don had put together and led and strongly supported in all the ways we have heard other people speak of. He rang, most importantly, to say that he wished he could come across for the funeral, but he did not think he would be able to. He told me about the new job he had taken up, which he knew Don would be so pleased about. He told me about how he would still be working with Australians in this new task he had been given, which was in the maritime sphere, and how, building on all those linkages that he had been able to develop through the parliament, he was looking forward to working in the memory of Don to strengthen those ties.

Julie, Tess and Elliott, he made the friends that he made here friends with you as well. He made us know about his pride in his family; about the fact that he had just moved into a new house—'just been there 12 months, loving it'—and about what he hoped to achieve in the parliament after this and what he wanted as a future.

One of the things he always gibed me about was, as he said, 'You're always late, Bronnie. You're always late. Get here on time.' He would tell me to be there a little bit earlier than the real time. That way, he thought, he would get me there. You heard from Ken Wyatt about the bottle of wine. It is quite true. It did not matter how good the bottle of wine was; it was never good enough. We always had to have his wine first because he knew better and, 'This is absolutely beautiful.' He would chide, 'Well, if you can't bring something else, don't bring anything at all. We'll just have what I've got.' But his wanting to always be on time was what alerted Chloe to the fact that something was wrong on the day. But he still had enough consideration for the people in his electorate to pull the car over.

Don was a remarkable friend, a remarkable man. As I said, he was generous, caring and loyal. All the words we will say here today will never, Julie, as you would hope, bring him back, but the memory of him will be firm in our hearts. His contribution will not be overlooked—the hopes and aspirations he had for his constituents and for our country, understanding that every individual is important. Whether one has a disability, whether one is ordinary or whether one is terrifically bright, he knew that every individual mattered, and that showed in so much of the work that he did.

I say to his wonderful staff and volunteers, whom I have also had the pleasure of meeting over many years: his efforts to make emotional ties and real connections with people was the force behind his ability to keep winning the seat of Canning. It was that connection with and the understanding of the wants and needs of Canning that kept him being sent back to this place.

I was very proud to know Don Randall. I am missing him very much. I simply say to you, his family: thank you for sharing him with some of us.