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Monday, 10 August 2015
Page: 7809

Mr BROUGH (Fisher) (16:17): I came into this parliament in 1996 with Don. Like only a few others, such as Teresa Gambaro and Bob Baldwin, we found ourselves out at the request of the public and have come back—we have joined a select group. One of the last things Don did in welcoming me back was to present me with the last bottle of wine that was produced to commemorate the class of '96. It was a nice little thing—it had every member of the class of '96 on it from the Liberal Party and the National Party, and the margins we came in with. You look at it and you wonder where they are now. Don put a few of us—Joe and Bruce, and our other colleagues such as Teresa, Warren, Bob and Sharman—from the class of '96 together, and we shared a drink on my return and he gave me that last bottle. It was an end of an era. Little did we know that today we would be standing here remembering fondly the memories that we have of Don.

I particularly wanted to speak today because a lot of people have mentioned in generic terms specific things about how he has been so passionate with his electorate, and it is true. I just wanted to recount that when I was the Assistant Treasurer, Don advocated for years on behalf of a group of his constituents who had been caught up in a tax minimisation scheme and could get no joy. He never gave up, because he felt for these individuals. And I have got to say it looked hopeless. I will never forget the day that they were all coming to see me two at a time—it was almost like at school going in to see your principal. Don was with these families, and sometimes their tax advisers, and they would come in with brave faces and then both the husband and wife would break down and cry because they had sat there with these bills from the ATO for sometimes $200,000, $300,000 or $400,000 which they never thought they could pay. Everyone had basically deserted them bar one person: Don Randall. If it had not been for his personal advocacy then those people's lives could have been destroyed—some were destroyed; there were reports of suicide. His personal conviction in standing by people—some people call them the little man, but I think that is a derogatory term—just average people, who found themselves in tough conditions, turned to their local MP and found that they had a champion, a champion that did have tenacity.

Someone else reflected today on a similarity with John Howard. When asked what John Howard's greatest attribute was, they said it was tenacity, and can I tell you that Don Randall had it in absolute spades. It was tenacity not for his own betterment—there was no bitterness in him for not being a minister; I never once saw him complain that he was overlooked or there was some personal gain that he missed—but simply that he was able to advocate for his constituency in an effective manner.

I think Don learnt a lot by losing. I saw him come back as an even more effective member. If any prospective politician from any political persuasion should take today's debate and read it from end to end then they will understand what it is to be a good member of parliament. They will also understand what is to be a good human being, because, unlike what we are sometimes portrayed, the two go together. It is the human values of the Don Randalls of this world that come into this place with a life experience that is rich and a value system that is based on integrity that actually endeared him to his electorate—not whether they voted for him or not but whether he could achieve things for them.

You will often hear people say that X, Y or Z did not make a big contribution because they were not a cabinet minister, but that belittles the role of the 150 of us who are here as private members of parliament, and it is the individual life that you have changed. He and his staff worked together tirelessly to change for the better the lives of the people that he represented. For those of us who have had the privilege to represent a marginal seat, it is not Don and his family; it is Don and the team—and the team is his staff, his federal divisional council and his family. You do that as one and you grow close together, so I know now that the pain that they will be feeling, they will be feeling equally.

I want to say one other thing about him in regard to courage. It is not an easy thing to tell your leaders what they need to hear. It takes great courage to do that and to do it with integrity—not to hold grudges and not to do it for personal gain, but to do it because it is what you are hearing from your electorate and you believe it is the right and proper thing to do. Don Randall did that. He did not ask someone else to do it on his behalf; he did not stand behind anyone else; he put himself forward. As someone else said here today, he would not just stand next to you, he would stand in front of you. We in this place have to ask ourselves: how many of us have that level of courage—the courage of our convictions?

As a former soldier, I once had a colonel who would write our reports. The last comment would always be a rating. You would love these ratings, and only the military can do it: 'don't want'; 'take a chance on'; 'happy to have'; one more, and then the last one was 'fight to keep'. He would put a line through them all and say, 'I would take this man to war' or 'I would not take this man to war.' That said it all. For me, if I am in the trenches, I want Don Randall next to me; I know I have a man of integrity that I can rely on and have my back.

To his family, thank you. Thank you for giving up so much of what you could have had with your father and your husband to the community that he served and to this parliament. We are richer for the sacrifice that you have made on behalf of democracy and our nation. We ask that he rest in peace and we give our peace, our love and our prayers to his family, as they continue the mourning process.