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Monday, 10 August 2015
Page: 7824


Mr CRAIG KELLY (Hughes) (17:29): On the evening of Don's passing, I was driving back to Sydney from the funeral of the late member for Hume, Alby Schultz, which was held down in Cootamundra earlier in the day. It is about a five-hour drive back through some fairly winding country roads, and on the way I thought that Alby was the first member of the 43rd Parliament who had actually passed away—the 43rd Parliament being the first I had served in. I thought that, after some time, every single member of that first parliament that I served in will actually pass. I was wondering how long that would be—how many years that would be in the future.

As I was pulling into Goulburn, I heard the news come across the radio that Don had been found dead in his car and had passed earlier that day. It came as an especially great shock for me, because the following week I was actually scheduled to go on a parliamentary delegation with Don to India. This was a trip that had been planned for several months, and Don and I had got together several times and had talked about it—how excited we both were about going on that trip. I can say, with all honesty, I could not think of a better bloke to go away with, to travel with. With the greatest respect to all my colleagues, if I could have hand-picked one member of this parliament to travel with, it would have been Don Randall, for his sense of humour, his love of life. It would have been a fantastic trip.

But we all know about Don's sometimes wicked sense of humour. In the window to his office, which is on the way to the government party room, I know many times when, in the first term of parliament when I was in opposition with Don, Don would have great pleasure going through the pages of the local papers and picking out the most humorous political cartoon he could find attacking the then Labor government of the day. You could almost see Don laughing as he would stick that cartoon up in his window, knowing that every single member of the government, as they filed and trudged their way down to the party room, had to look into Don's window or turn away for fright of what cartoon Don would have put up.

Don also loved his golf, and in our last parliamentary sitting week before the winter recess Don was actually sitting in the chair where you are today, Deputy Speaker, and we were swapping chair duties, and I asked him, 'How was your golf on the weekend?' He said, 'I had 32 points, a couple of bad bounces, a few putts slipped out, could have been anything.' Don actually kept a set of clubs down there in his office, and there was many a time that I would wander down to have a bit of chat with him, and I would pull his putter out and we would have a few putts on the carpet and discuss the wonderful game of golf that it was. In fact, it was only a few weeks ago that Don, the members for Reid, Macarthur, Forde and Swan, and I enjoyed a game at Royal Canberra. It was a fantastic day—something I wish I could have done more of with Don.

I did have the wonderful opportunity to travel across to Perth for Don's funeral. I would like to remark what wonderful speeches Don's kids, Tess and Elliott, made. Don would have been very proud of them. At the funeral grounds where Don was buried and where they held that service, there were the most beautiful grounds. It actually reminded me of a golf course with a beautiful lake, and I am sure, if Don had been there at his own funeral, he would have wanted to say, 'Let's throw a few golf balls down and let's punch a couple of nine irons across the lake.' It actually reminded me of Augusta National with the rolling grass, the flowers, the lakes and the water. I am sure Don will be very much at peace there.

There is a bit of a myth that is often spread out there in our society that members of the government, and politicians in general, never really had much life experience before they came into parliament. Don was a living example to prove that wrong. He was someone who had a background as a jackaroo, someone who was a teacher, someone who was a horse trainer—not the sport of kings, the gallopers, but harness racing; he actually trained harness racers. He was a rodeo rider, a beekeeper and many more things. He had a very diverse career before he came into parliament. I think that is one of the things that made him such a great parliamentarian.

Ultimately, Don's untimely passing reminds us all that life is short. We wake up every morning and we should kiss the ground, put aside our petty squabbles and seize the moment of every day to live life to the fullest. Don never gave a final speech in this parliament, but if he had he would have rallied against political correctness. I have looked back to Don's maiden speech to think of some of the phrases that Don would have said if he had had the opportunity of a final speech. I would like to quote a few of those paragraphs from his maiden speech, which I think are fitting. These are Don's words from his maiden speech back in the same chamber on 6 May 1996:

I look forward to seeing the decline of the welfare state mentality, with a greater emphasis on hand-up instead of handout … I am passionate and optimistic about the coalition's policies for the development of small business and the opportunities they will provide in terms of the economy, employment, and individual growth and determination—a sense of pride which has been hindered for so long.

…   …   …

It is not government's responsibility to prop up businesses with funding but rather to guide them towards standing up for themselves, being productive and efficient, and requiring minimum assistance.

…   …   …

Australia is a land of opportunity. We are a nation where people who are willing to make sacrifices can succeed and where people can take the opportunity to make their own luck.

He said:

Historically, Australians have proved they can face and conquer economic and social challenges.

…   …   …

I believe Australians still have this spirit and the desire to achieve … We are making some changes because we want to properly deliver the services for which they are paying. The reason for these changes is as important to the people of Australia as it is to the government which makes them: to stop overspending on the things we do not have the money to pay for, and to implement long-term goals, not short-term fixes.

Don also said, which I think would also be part of his final speech if he were able to make it:

Part of the Liberal Party's platform states a belief in the innate worth of the individual and the need to encourage initiative and personal responsibility. The freedoms of the individual must be protected, and all people should have the opportunity to advance to their full potential. …

Finally, the worst thing that could happen to Australians is if they begin to believe, to quote the former Prime Minister, that 'this is as good as it gets'. Very rarely do we reach that point where there is no more to strive for, that all has been achieved.

Don strived to make this country a better place and he succeeded. Ultimately, that is the job of us all: to hand this country on to future generations in a better condition and with more opportunities than when we inherited it. In that respect, Don succeeded. May he rest in peace.