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Thursday, 24 June 2004
Page: 31766

Mr SNOWDON (11:19 AM) —Let me thank my colleague for letting me jump the queue.

An honourable member—I am quite happy with that.

Mr SNOWDON —He is happy that I have jumped the queue. I think he is trying to collect his thoughts after a good evening. I want to inform the House of an accident that has occurred involving a former colleague of ours here in this place who is a former Hawke and Keating government minister, has been a personal friend of mine for 30 years and is a great Territorian. I am, of course, speaking of Bob Collins. Bob was a senator here from 1987 until I think five years ago. He has been involved in a rather bad car accident. This occurred while he was travelling alone in his vehicle on the Jim Jim Road in Kakadu National Park while heading home to Darwin last Sunday.

We are told that Bob swerved to avoid a pig, rolled the car and hit a tree. That is not unusual in the Northern Territory—animals cause accidents, and this is yet another one. Sadly, it has affected Bob. He was able to get out of the vehicle and was evacuated to Darwin, where they assessed the nature of his injuries. After making that assessment, they determined that he was in a serious but stable condition. A decision was then made to fly him to the Royal Adelaide Hospital. So he was flown to Adelaide for quite complicated orthopaedic surgery to his lower body. I understand that an operation took place yesterday. I was informed this morning that he is now in a serious but stable condition.

I know that his wife, Rosemary, and his children, Robbie, Elizabeth and Dan, are with him. I am sure that I speak on behalf of all who know him, and certainly those who know him around the parliament, in wishing him a speedy recovery. Our hearts go out to his family in this stressful time. My heart has been warmed by the number of people in the last 24 hours who, having heard about this unfortunate incident, have asked me to pass on their best wishes to Bob and his family and to wish him a speedy recovery. Those wishes have come from people who work in this place—people from the library, car drivers, attendants and colleagues. That is an indication of the esteem in which Bob is held in this place, and elsewhere around the country. He is truly a national character.

I know that all the people who know him will, like us, be concerned about his accident and will wish him a speedy recovery. After all, he is a very important person, because not only did he play a very important role in this place as a senior minister and as a senator for the Northern Territory but, since leaving the parliament and going back to the Territory, he has fulfilled a number of very important roles. He is currently, as you would know, Mr Deputy Speaker Scott, employed by the South Australian government to do a lot of very good work in the Pitjantjatjara lands to the north of South Australia. I think the South Australian government, the Northern Territory government and all the other people who deal with him professionally would like to see him back at work. That is not going to happen for some time as he goes through this period of recovery. But we say to him: `Don't hasten the recovery just to get back to work; take your time. Make sure your body heals. Get yourself into a frame of mind where you are ready to take up the challenge once again.' Bob, we wish you a very quick recovery. We want to see you happy and healthy, as you always were, with your beaming face, your great sense of humour and your ability to bring us good will. (Time expired)