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Thursday, 5 December 2013
Page: 1855

Ms PARKE (Fremantle) (10:53): Today I wish to pay tribute to an extraordinary man, Dr Ern Manea, who sadly passed away in Bunbury on 16 October this year at the age of 86. Last year, I was privileged to speak at the book launch of The Story of a Remarkable Life by Baden Pratt, concerning Dr Manea's life, his loving partnership with his wife Beulah, also known as Snookie, and the contribution they both made to Bunbury and to the South-West region. I first met Dr Manea some 47 years ago when he delivered me; I was the first baby in the then new Bunbury Regional Hospital. Dr Manea delivered more than 3,580 babies during his almost 60 years of practice and I had the feeling he remembered each one of us. He was the family doctor to generations of people in the South-West community, including my mother, Lorraine Parke, and my good friend, Mary Lee. Just to name a few of his achievements, Dr Manea was the local mayor, the inaugural chairman and director of the then South West Development Authority and, as was noted in the book, he oversaw 'millions of dollars of investment in the health, social, heritage, business, sporting and industrial fabric of the greater Bunbury area that saw the city become the fastest growing municipality in Australia'.

Dr Manea was chairman of the Edith Cowan University Bunbury campus, the president of the South Bunbury Football Club and the Bunbury Trotting Club, a member of the Western Australian Planning Commission and president of the Australian Harness Racing Council. But, not content with a presence in community, regional, state and national life in Australia, Dr Manea went on to become the world president of the International Trotting Association. He also fostered the important relationship between the City of Bunbury and the sister city of Setagaya in Japan.

Dr Manea was on a first-name basis with prime ministers, governors-general, governors and premiers, and was pursued at various times by both major political parties to consider a career in state and federal politics. The mind boggles to think of what might have happened had he done so. Certainly, Dr Manea was the go-to person for premiers needing to regale visiting heads of state, whether it was entertaining the President of Ethiopia Haile Selassie at Gloucester Park, receiving the Duke of Edinburgh to open the Bunbury Regional Entertainment Centre or taking the President of Malaysia crabbing. He and Snookie were parents to an Aboriginal boy, Syd Jackson, who went on to become a football legend, and they championed the cause of young Aboriginal people as they championed regional development and education services. Manea Senior College in Bunbury is a testament to that.

As Dr Manea told the South Western Times in 1972:

I hate to wait for things to happen. I like to cause things to happen.

Ern's wife, Beulah 'Snookie' Manea, also made things happen, as shown in her work to preserve the Bunbury timber jetty and to establish the Bunbury Regional Art Galleries and the Bunbury Meals on Wheels—to name just a few. Both Dr and Mrs Manea received medals for the Order of Australia and were each made an Honorary Freeman of the City of Bunbury and a Paul Harris Fellow—the highest honour bestowed by Rotary for exceptional service.

Dr and Snookie Manea have had a profound impact in so many ways. There is simply not enough time to say it all, but I will say this: in many respects I am what I am today because of Dr Manea. For starters, he did not drop me at birth! Throughout my life, whenever I had a concern, needed advice on a matter or had a crucial decision to make, I turned to the person who greeted me into this world, Dr Manea. Whether as a teenager growing up in Donnybrook, a community legal centre lawyer in Bunbury, a human rights lawyer working in war zones with the United Nations or now as the federal member for Fremantle, I had available to me a mentor who took an interest in my life.

I was working in the Middle East with the UN when I turned 40 and got a call from Dr Manea, who was turning 80 that same year. Until just a few months ago Dr Manea would call my office in Fremantle to offer some advice or tell me to stand strong on a particular issue. Dr Manea, whenever he had the chance, would also encourage young people to pursue their aspirations. As mayor, attending school graduations he used to quote Oscar Hammerstein:

You who have dreams, if you act they will come true.

Dr Manea was also particularly concerned at the loneliness suffered by many elderly people and was still busy organising community meetings and activities for seniors until not long before his death. I take this opportunity to give thanks for all Dr Manea did and said which gave courage, confidence and hope to me and to so many others. I was grateful to be able to attend his funeral in Bunbury and to pass on my regards to Beulah, to his sons, Mark, Dennis and Sydney, and to other family members and friends, of whom Dr Manea had so many.

The service, which had been planned by Dr Manea himself, ended with Louis Armstrong's 'What a Wonderful World'. That really did sum up this exceptional man's outlook and his generous approach to everyone around him. Truly this was a remarkable life, and I am thankful to have been a small part of it.