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Monday, 10 August 2015
Page: 7826


Mr EWEN JONES (Herbert) (17:38): I always thought that Don was his second name, because every time you heard someone refer to him it was, 'Bloody Don Randall!' Every time, you heard something like: 'What happened here?' 'Bloody Don Randall.' Unlike a lot of other speakers, we were not close. It was one of those things that happened in the 43rd Parliament; we never ended up at the same dinner parties and we never ended up at the same discussions. But we did share a great love of Johnny Cash.

I also share his commitment to, and I want his family to understand this, and will continue his work on the inclusiveness of education, where his great thing was compassion around autism. I believe that the work we can do in relation to the inclusiveness of Down syndrome children going into everyday schools is something which will benefit the child, because if they go into to a special school then they sink to the lowest level. What I like to see, when it comes to in the inclusiveness of people in everyday schools, is what they do to enrich our school environment, what they do to enrich our school community and what they do to add to what our children experience and what their education should be, in that things are not always that easy and parents do have different challenges. I want them to know that we have that in common and that I will always be working in that space.

A lot of words have been spoken about Don Randall and his love of his staff. Those of us here who have succeeded owe a great deal to our staff. Everyone who works for me is familiar with the refrain that I use: 'I hate to say it's all about me, but it's all about me. The more that you can do to make me look good, the better off we all are.' I am very lucky that I had two staff taken on, one by the Prime Minister himself and one by the federal secretariat—both came through. As Don did, I think we all wish for our good staff to make sure that they do go on and do things. Equally, you have to be very honest with your staff as to where their performance actually is. Sometimes those conversations are not easy. The thing I know about Don Randall is that he was never afraid of having a conversation.

My words, however, in relation to the passing of Don Randall, are for his family. This job is never easy. This job takes us a long way away from home for long periods of time. I am from North Queensland and Don was from Western Australia. We travel similar distances, but I do not know how anyone from Western Australia can do this job for a long time. It is a killer: the amount of time that they have to do away from their families. Seeing the age of his children now and having him being in there since 1996, they have grown up with this. I know that is the only life that they know, but you know it is not natural to see your father go for that long. I am very lucky that my two girls went through and were pretty much finished school before I got into this caper. But with my son, it will always be my greatest fear that he has never really had his dad at home. If Don can be that sort of example to me as to the amount of time you spend in cherishing your family, then know again that his legacy will live on.

I just want your family to know, Don, and I want his kids to understand that they can be very proud of their dad. He was liked and respected inside this place across both sides of the chamber. Paul Keating once said that very few people get to choose their time of exit in this place and the manner in which they do. It is a very tough gig. It was not his way of going and it was not his choice. To die in the service of your electorate is a bad way to go. You could think of a lot of other ways you would like to do it. But you cannot change it.

I would just like to close with the words of his favourite singer, Johnny Cash. I can just imagine Don Randall now:

Like that lucky old sun, give me nothing to do but roll around Heaven all day.

Vale, Don Randall.