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Monday, 10 August 2015
Page: 7834


Dr JENSEN (Tangney) (18:17): I recall the shock that I got when James Massola texted me and said, 'What's this about the rumour that Don Randall has passed away?' At first I was not sure if it was a joke. I called him up and said, 'What is this?' Then he said that this was the rumour that he had heard. I remember being really shocked and really hopeful that it was incorrect. Then, unfortunately, as events came to pass, we found that, in fact, it was correct. It is something that shook me quite a lot, I have to say.

In talking about Don's career, there was some discussion about the importance of the Halls Head booth in 2001. This is something that I had not realised. There is a certain irony there for me personally and certainly a connection. I had just moved to Australia and guess which booth I voted in at the 2001 election? It was Halls Head. So it is quite staggering that there is a certain synergy there.

Don was a character who was often misunderstood. Certainly, I have to say that when I first came to this place I misunderstood him. He came across as quite gruff. He spoke his mind. You did not have a real sense of the caring nature that was actually inside the man. It is something that, from a personal perspective, I have to admit, took me a little while to develop. The first time I got some inkling of both Don's personal concern for people—his caring nature—and how well connected and how well respected he was politically was when I had my first preselection hassle. Don was tasked with the job to speak to state counsellors to see their views on things. He phoned me and said, 'I have to say, there's an awful lot of support for you with state council.' We had quite a lengthy discussion. It was very clear that he had a very significant personal empathy. I think that part of that, obviously, was Don's very caring nature, but also part of it was that Don had a knowledge of what I went through, certainly, in losing the seat of Swan in 1998. He would know the gut-wrenching feeling that you get with that sort of thing—I guess, a level of being irrelevant to a certain extent. Don was very personally supportive at that time, and that is when I first started getting an inkling of Don's caring nature.

There has been a lot of discussion about Don's career, but I would like to talk a bit more about Don the man. The next area where I got a very clear understanding of Don's personal caring for people was when my wife left in July. I would like to think that I presented a face that showed I was not really adversely affected at all, but family for me, like for Don, is something that is critical and it was something that really did shake me. The marriage was one thing, but the devastation of the smashing of the family was something that hit me very hard, and I tried not to let that show. But Don, being incredibly empathetic, obviously perceived the level of my distress as far as that smashing of the family was concerned. He was very personally supportive at that time and was always ready to speak to me and always asking how I was going. He would not just take, 'Oh, yeah; it's all good'; he really wanted to know.

The next time I got that feeling was during the events of February this year, when I went on the infamous 7.30 program and made certain statements. It feels very lonely when you have openly criticised your leader and were the first person to come out on it. It was very hard, and I was in turmoil. Don obviously realised I would be feeling very nervous. He was the first person to call me to see how I was going. He said, 'You spoke very well', et cetera—once again, someone who had very clear empathy for people and realised what they were going through, showing his caring nature.

The member for Calare was talking about political correctness. The problem in this place is that you cannot tell most of the really good, interesting stories about Don here, because of political correctness. So I feel somewhat hamstrung given some of those personal stories that I cannot relate in order to show just what a character Don was.

Much has been said about Don fighting for what he believed in. I have certainly seen many instances of that, as have the other members on our side of the House. They have seen Don in the party room, making very certain that people knew his view if we were doing things incorrectly. I very much respect that. It takes a lot of guts to stand up and say things that people do no want to hear and that will not necessarily be popular but that need to be said. Don is one of the people in this place who genuinely would stand up and be counted for what he believed in. I have an enormous amount of admiration for Don in that regard. I know it is not easy to do, yet Don would do it consistently.

The member for Brand also spoke of Don's love for his Falcon XR6. I have to correct the member for Brand here, and I know this is pedantic: it was an XR6 Turbo. The reason I am being pedantic is that I got an XR6 Turbo in 2005 and Don came to me and said, 'How did you manage to get that?'—because it was not on the list at the time. I said to Don, 'I got the manual version, and that actually comes in under the price threshold'. So, I take it from what the member for Brand, as the Special Minister of State, was saying that Don went to him and said, 'Hey, I want this car on my list.' I can also really empathise with Don for not wanting to put magnetic plates on the side of his car. I have to admit that I drive a little bit too fast, so I would have to be very careful about having magnetic plates on the side of my car to readily identify me when I am driving a little bit too quickly. So, similar to Don, I do not drive with magnetic plates on the side of my car.

Don spoke to me about some of his political career, and one of the things he said was that he learned from his experience with Swan, where he lost that election in 1998. He said he realised how much he loved the job here and that he would do anything to get back and would never forget what it was like to lose it and that, in effect, he would never take things for granted again. That is why he worked so incredibly hard for his electorate. Part of it obviously was the fact that he cared so much for people. But part of it was that he was determined never to lose that seat again. I spoke to him about his doorknocking. He was an awesome campaigner. Don said to me: 'Doorknocking's not something I love. It's hard work, but it's something I do. It's very valuable, because you learn a lot about what people are thinking.' That is something that really characterised Don. He had a very clear view of what his electorate was saying and thinking, which is why he knew that things like asylum seeker policy had to change and why he so strongly defended the policy we took to the last election despite the fact that a whole lot of people, particularly in the media, were saying how uncaring it was.

One of the things I certainly remember about Don was when he would make interjections during question time and get ejected under 94(a). Just about every time, he would throw his hands up and say: 'Who, me? I'm completely innocent!' Yet I hear from others that he probably got off lightly, because there were probably a lot of times when he should have been thrown out but was not. Don, calling things the way he saw them, obviously felt very passionately about this place, which is why he fought so hard, even in that context, to make sure his views were known.

Another thing I remember about Don is his sense of humour. You could always tell when Don was going to come up with something, because you would see that devilish look in his eyes and that slightly cheeky half-smile he would give before launching into something—and, as I said, very often politically incorrect; I wish I could relate some of the stories, but unfortunately in this place I cannot. All I have to say is; Don, I will really miss you. Don and I flew together an awful lot, because Don't favourite seat was the aisle seat in row one, and mine was the window seat, so we sat together and spent a lot of time together. I still find it hard to think that when I fly in future I will not be sitting next to Don. Vale, Don. I will miss you.