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Monday, 10 August 2015
Page: 7845


Mr HUTCHINSON (Lyons) (19:15): When I first got elected, I remember a colleague that I had worked with for many years, by the name of Gilbert Davidson, saying to me, 'Just remember: the constituents in your electorate will be less concerned about what you know; rather, they will want to know that you care.' I think that is something that Don Randall understood very well, because he cared for the people within his electorate. Of course, he cared for his family.

I did not know Don terribly well. He had office RG84; I have RG81. Many was the time that, during a division, we would walk down the corridor together. My father, David, also died at the age of 62. It is too young, and life, unfortunately, has a habit of taking good people from us before their time—and that was the case with Don Randall.

When I first came to this place—and I have heard the story from a number of people here—I was not quite sure what to make of Don Randall, but, as the wonderful contributions that we have heard on both sides of this place today in recognition of Don's work and his friendship and his companionship and his frankness in this place show, they come in all different shapes and sizes, and that is how it should be. In Don, we had a special needs teacher—I did not know that—and we had a horse trainer. He certainly, like us all, was a reflection of the very diverse community that makes our country so great, of the aspirations of its people, of the causes that they feel strongly about. Don was one of those optimists among us—an extraordinary advocate for his state of Western Australia and the people of this electorate of Canning.

When I first heard the news of Don's passing, like so many here, I was somewhat shocked, contemplating how it would be. When I think of Don Randall, I will think of a man who said his piece and was very clear about where he stood without fear or favour. He did make, as was mentioned by somebody today, interjections during question time—he sat just behind me here—in his deep voice with a genuine wit. He could often be heard making interjections that did not get, perhaps, the recognition they deserved.

He was indeed a fighter for the little guy—those people that have suffered, whether it be at the hands of local government or state government or federal government—on the issues that are never reported in the newspapers. But those things, which perhaps brought the greatest satisfaction to him as a member of parliament, as they do to many of us, had an important impact on the lives of the people within his electorate.

I commented to him one time, passing his office, that he always had a different staff member coming over to Canberra with him, and I asked him why that was. Again, as has been mentioned by many today, he took great pride in his staff—and, clearly, his staff took great pride in working for Don Randall. He saw the opportunity for them to come to Canberra as a way not only of giving them an opportunity to see that part of the work that he did but also to further their careers and give them opportunities, as was mentioned by Minister Hunt today in his contribution—to give good staff the opportunity to be the best that they could.

I did not know him well—not well enough. But his frank and genuine honesty was indeed a most attractive characteristic—not by design but by coincidence. Life has an uncanny way of delivering strange things in terms of timing and other matters. As it happened, I had a meeting today with Gerard Neesham and the people from the Clontarf Foundation that I had arranged nearly two months ago. I met with them today in my office, and we spent some time contemplating, remembering the contribution and the work that Don Randall had done with that very excellent organisation. On behalf of myself, my family and the people of the electorate of Lyons in the state of Tasmania, I offer my sincere condolences to Julie, to Tess and to Elliott.