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Monday, 10 August 2015
Page: 7805


Mr RUDDOCK (Berowra) (16:00): This has been a remarkable day, because I think it reflects the very best of our parliament when people come together to be able to reflect on the very significant contribution of one of our colleagues so sadly taken away from us. As I have listened to all those who have participated in this debate, I could not help but be very much aware of the contribution that Don was making to this nation but also of the impact that he had had upon his colleagues and friends. The camaraderie of the Western Australian members has been demonstrated by those who have spoken and those who are yet to speak.

For my own part, I regret very much that, at the time of Don's passing, I was away; I was with the intelligence and security committee in Europe. I read of it and was very shocked that it had happened in this way. I have been in the parliament for a number of years, and I recall the last occasion on which we were deprived of one of our colleagues—Peter Nugent, the then member for Aston. It is remarkable, in a sense, that with so many of us so few are taken tragically in this way. I do not know whether it says a lot about medicine of today and the way in which people look after themselves—it may be we do not have members of parliament serving as long in the parliament as we may have had in the past—but it has been a significant change.

I have heard members regale the House about their involvement in various ways, and I do not wish to unduly detain members with a lengthy repetition of those matters that have been so adequately addressed by those who have gone before. But for me, as whip, I am very much aware that Don used to take a few liberties; we have heard of that today. Given the exigency of getting back to Perth and the time we rise on a Thursday night, I am conscious of it. I do not know that I was ever able to reform him, but what I am pleased about is that when I was no longer in that role as whip he had some comments to make about it. I am grateful that he saw my role in such a positive light.

It may reflect something of our friendship over the years, because I do remember his advocacy as the member for Swan in relation to Clontarf and the Clontarf Foundation. I do remember, as I know others who have been associated with Indigenous affairs will, the unique model that they had hit upon to embrace young male students through sport and to give them a better educational outcome because of it. I was minister for Indigenous affairs when I was apprised of those matters, and my recollection is that I may have even provided a little support for the Clontarf Foundation along the way. What I am pleased to hear about is the number of others who have followed and who have seen fit—and I have no doubt because of Don's advocacy, amongst the undoubted demonstrable success—to continue support for it.

I had the opportunity of seeing him, as member for Canning, when I went with the Save the Children organisation to look at programs that they were conducting in his electorate and, I might say, in the electorate of my friend Ken Wyatt. They were very focused not only on ensuring that people were aware of what Save the Children were doing abroad but on what they also do here in Australia.

For my own part, I was particularly pleased when Don was prepared to take up issues in relation to discrimination in migration programs. That is an issue on which I have carved out, I guess, my own reputation in this place for conscience, and I was pleased, not that he had to do it but that he was willing to engage in relation to some of the discriminatory practices that he thought may have been being pursued in relation to 457 visas. I am always very keen to take that matters up.

Again, you could see his understanding of where we are in the world and of the need for a broad view in relation to different cultures, different races and different religions by the very fact that he played such a significant leadership role in relation to Japan and Sri Lanka, amongst others, here in this parliament through the friendship groups. I do not think we talk much about fundraising these days, but I remember meeting a fellow—I think he is a Western Australian of note, Len Buckeridge—and it must have been an occasion on which my colleague was getting to the Pitt Street of Perth when he was raising money from Len, I think. All of us obviously have worked at various times to ensure that people like Don are able to come to this parliament and play the very significant role that he has. I lament very much that I was not there at the time of his farewell, but I do want to be associated with this condolence motion. To Julie, Tess and Elliott: I give you the condolences of the Ruddock family, who share with you your grief.