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Tuesday, 21 August 1984
Page: 34


Senator COLSTON —Some people outside this Parliament often find it confusing that firm friendships can be formed and are formed between members of parliament in opposing political parties. So it was the case with Kevin Cairns and myself. I did not agree with many aspects of his political philosophy nor did he with mine; in the political sphere neither he nor I gave any quarter. Even so, I regarded Kevin Cairns as one of my firm friends and I believe he felt the same way about me.

It is a depressing coincidence that in the autumn session I spoke in this chamber following the passing of Mr Frank Doyle, who, for a short period in 1972 , took the seat of Lilley from Mr Cairns. Mr Doyle was also a firm friend of mine and I expected him to live for far longer than he did. I also expected the same of Mr Cairns, who, as has been mentioned earlier this afternoon, died at only 55 years of age. Both left this life far too early.

Mr Cairns distinguished himself in this Parliament and before his defeat in 1972 was a Minister of the Crown. His efforts for his own party were not lessened when he returned to the Parliament, even though he did not have ministerial rank. After he left this Parliament, he continued his service to the public. For example, he was a member of the Independent Air Fares Committee. At one stage Kevin Cairns and I had adjoining rooms in the Commonwealth Parliamentary Offices in Brisbane. During that period, unbeknown to one another, we both travelled overseas. I was in London for a short period, having travelled there via North America; Kevin Cairns travelled to London via a westward route. We were both surprised to meet by chance in mid-London, and it was a coincidence I shall always remember. The coincidence probably stretched a little further in some respects in that, sadly, I was overseas when Kevin Cairns died. I learned only on the day I returned to Australia that his funeral was being held on that day. Regrettably, I did not hear about his death early enough on that day to be able to attend his funeral.

I last spoke to Kevin Cairns when we met in the Brisbane city mall. We must have spoken for half an hour on a wide range of topics, one of which I vividly remember was education. It was a sad blow to me personally to learn of Mr Cairns 's passing. However, my sadness is of course far surpassed by that of his family . I should like it to be on record that I extend my sympathy to Mrs Tonia Cairns and to her seven children. I hope that their burden will be eased by knowing that Kevin's friends came from both sides of politics.