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Monday, 10 August 2015
Page: 7753

Mr HOCKEY (North SydneyThe Treasurer) (11:53): I join with everyone else here in offering my sincere condolences to the Randall family, to his friends, to his extended family and to his staff. I came into this place in 1996 with Don and an ever smaller cohort of others. In fact, I was sat just near Don in the early years, when this chamber saw far more significant disruptions in its composition than we have seen even in this term of parliament. We saw the tragic death, in that time, of Greg Wilton. We saw a number of ministers resign. It was quite a traumatic and volatile period, and people tend to forget what it was like.

In the 1998 election, Don lost his seat, and so many members of parliament who lost their seat were forgotten, which, in itself, is tragic. I remember as a new minister getting a phone call from Don Randall one day, and I said, 'Mate, I'll do anything I can to help you,' and he said, 'Well, I haven't given up'. I remarked to him, 'The thing about you tough buggers is your heart is often bigger than your body and your toughness,' and he said, 'Yep'. He did not give up. He came back. And I did everything I could as a new minister to help him and help Bob Baldwin, the member for Paterson—the two MacArthurs. He was a fierce warrior, Don, he really was. You always knew where you stood with Don Randall. There was no doubt about that. He was a fearless advocate for his electorate and for his values as well.

The Prime Minister referred to that quite significant day in parliament where we brought in 'cardboard Kev'. Brendan Nelson, the then Leader of the Opposition, said to me, as manager of opposition business: 'This cardboard Kevin idea: if it works, it's my idea; if it fails, it's yours.' I've still got 'cardboard Kev' somewhere in the office. When we actually had to bring 'cardboard Kev' into the chamber and the deputy speaker at the time, who is now here, said, 'Get rid of that thing,' we knew that Don was not going to back down, because he was the one that said, 'I want to take him into the chamber and I want to make a point'. He was always up for those sorts of tasks, being prepared to make a point to deliver an outcome that he thought was the right outcome for his electorate and his community.

He was a fantastic local campaigner. In 2001, I was sent up to campaign with him two days out from polling day. I said to Don: 'Are we going to street stalls? Are you we going to do some local media?' He said: 'No, mate.' He said: 'You've porked up a bit; we're going to go and do some doorknocking.' Terrific! Two days out from polling day. We walked into what was a housing estate, and I thought it was unlikely to be a swinging Liberal area. I went into a house, and this beautiful old lady said to me: 'Oh, you're Mr Hockey. My eyes aren't too good, but I can tell who are you.' Don was with me, and I said, 'Well, this is Don Randall,' and she said, 'Yes, yes, I know Mr Randall,' and she said, 'Oh look, I'm such a big fan of you guys,' and I said, 'Don, I can cover it from here'. And she said: 'Can you help me fill out my postal vote?' I thought, 'Oh, okay, I am happy to do that,' and I sat down at the dining table, and I said, 'Ma'am, I assume you're voting for Don Randall?' She said: 'Oh no, I'm Labor through and through.' So I penned the ballot paper and folded it up—

An opposition member interjecting

Mr HOCKEY: No, I did the right thing. I did the right thing. I walked out and Don said, 'How did that go?' and I said, 'Locked that one away, mate'.

He had a great sense of humour. Yes, he was a great fan of Sri Lanka, but he also was a great advocate for Cuba, which was a little close to home for me, I must say, because he constantly would bring in the Cuban ambassador to my office, introducing him and arguing for closer economic ties, particularly at a microbusiness level. I did not agree, Prime Minister! Don had a wonderful trip to Cuba recently. He came back with very many fond memories.

You know, everything, when you had a conversation with him, was about individuals—about how to make someone's life better. He brought more mayors into this Parliament House than any other member of parliament, and you had to see them. You had to see them, and you would be talking about issues that were most likely the responsibility of local government or state government, but they were all Don Randall's issues. He was a fierce warrior for his community. He was a man with very strong beliefs. He was a very, very committed and principled person when it came to family values. He will be sorely missed.