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Tuesday, 22 June 2010
Page: 6191


Mr RAGUSE (4:24 PM) —I rise this afternoon to note with some sadness the passing of a well-known Eagleby character, Mr Brian Harris. Brian Harris was born on 29 September 1954 in the UK. He grew up in Elizabeth, South Australia, and among other things he went to school with Jimmy Barnes, whose success perplexed him as, ‘All Jimmy does is scream.’ Brian’s political activism dated back to running from local law enforcement agencies during the 1960s Adelaide anti-Vietnam-war protests. Brian was a carer for his brother John, who moved with him to Queensland around 12 years ago for a new life. He lived happily in Eagleby, immersed in the local people, events and goings-on. He was passionate about life, the labour movement, politics and the Eagleby Tavern.

Unfortunately, at only 55 years of age, his heart gave way on the morning of 18 May at his home. A compassionate and empathetic man, he had spent a large part of the last six months of his life doing all he could to help a troubled teenager. For many of us who occasionally visit the Eagleby Tavern, it is hard to picture the place without Brian. Within one minute there, you would run into Brian and his brother John, both with a beer in hand, and within five minutes you knew every political issue and you had to talk about it. Within an hour, of course, you had solved most of those issues with Brian.

I want to particularly thank Peter Milsop and Bob Clancy, who organised a wake for Brian. His ashes were sent back to South Australia. The wake was held one evening at the Eagleby Tavern, supported by the kindness of the local hotel manager and attended by many of Brian’s saddened friends. My sincere sympathy goes to Brian’s friends and family, particularly to his brother John.

On a lighter note, as I have mentioned in this chamber on a number of occasions, I also attended another event, which included the Canterbury College Cantabile Choir, a choir established by Canterbury College. You may remember that on previous occasions in this House I talked about their success. They were the world champions, the gold medallists, in Austria a number of years ago. They are currently at the International Eisteddfod in Llangollen, Wales, and they are touring England, Scotland and Wales. Just prior to their leaving, I was privileged to be at an appearance where they performed for the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister’s words in response to the cantabile were:

I was thinking as I listened to the choir this evening, what is it that causes people to pursue excellence. Because in that choice, Cantabile Choir, tonight we were privileged to see excellence on display. Very extraordinary choir. Absolutely extraordinary. In the position I hold I travel around this country quite a bit; I actually travel around the world quite a bit. But one of the great, great experiences you have is when you come back to local communities like this to see excellence on display. And that’s what we saw here this evening.

A sincere thank you to the students and to Susan Gouchee for her work in making the cantabile choir an impressive display of excellence.