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Monday, 10 August 2015
Page: 7833


Mr JOHN COBB (Calare) (18:12): It is one thing to have condolences for past members but when it is one of your current colleagues it is a shock to the system. Don Randall, Tony Smith, Bob Baldwin, Russell Broadbent Luke Hartsuyker and I were all members of the class of 2001. Don, Bob and Russell had all been members of parliament prior to that; they had lost their seats but they came back that year. It was the year of the comeback. I have heard a lot said today about what a great campaigner Don was and how tough, invigorated and totally fearless he was about making his point—as I am sure he did for Swan before he became the member for Canning. One thing about Don which I absolutely admired—and the Prime Minister mentioned it this morning—was his disdain for political correctness. I believe political correctness has got to the point where it is strangling our country to death. No-one could ever accuse Don of having being politically correct. The first time I am ever accused of being overly politically correct I hope that you, Kenny, will hit me over the head and say, 'Remember Don!'

You can be here a long time with somebody—and we were here a long time—but I would not claim to be Don's best mate or as close to him as a lot of people. I would say Kenny spent more time with him, certainly in the last three or four years, than I did, but in the years that we were in opposition, and I was a shadow minister for nearly all that time, I did get to know Don. I think various people have spoken today about all of the things he did. The PM mentioned a few things that I was not aware he had done. But all of them were down-to-earth; none of them were intellectual. The same guy, actually, was a little intellectual—probably more than he wanted to be.

I found that Don's knowledge of, and his care about, his electorate was quite amazing. He did not have a huge rural electorate but he certainly had a rural one. People have mentioned beef and one thing or another, but the problems he had regarding agriculture surrounded the fruit growers more than anything. He had problems with fruit fly, and the fact that one of the great chemicals used all around Australia on fruit fly was being banned was, I think, more out of political correctness than there being anything wrong with it. I got to know Don well because we went to see his orchardists quite a lot. He had some amazing, well-informed young guys there, and I am sure they are still there and still well informed. The position that Don was putting forward on their behalf was so correct. This stuff was not actually doing anyone any harm. There was a one in 500 million chance that if people ate enough of something—if they stuffed themselves 24/7 for 10 years straight—at some stage they might come to some harm. Don correctly saw its banning as the problem it was, and these guys very definitely did. It took away their ability to export. It hurt them badly. No minister then or since has dealt with this as it should be dealt with.

I do not want to say a lot more, except that Don was a man I respected; and he was a man I liked because, like me, he really hated political correctness. If ever anyone acted out what they thought, Don did. The people of Canning, who got to know him so well over the 14 years that he was their member, will never forget that they had a non-politically correct, incredible champion.