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Monday, 10 August 2015
Page: 7754

Mr BURKE (WatsonManager of Opposition Business) (11:59): My main engagement with Don Randall was during my time as agriculture minister. The southern part of the seat of Canning is significant farming area. Don, very early in his life, had taken up beekeeping and been involved in the direct enterprise there. But, while his seat was known for stone and citrus fruits, beef, dairy, market gardens and forestry, the big issue when I first came in was wheat. While it did not necessarily reach his electorate in the way it did other seats, the principle reached his policy views. As a result, he was extraordinarily outspoken at a time when the Liberal Party, under Brendan Nelson, was still arriving at a final position.

There were three members of the Liberal Party—and none of them are in the parliament any more—who engaged very heavily during that wheat debate—Wilson Tuckey, Alby Schultz and Don Randall. Both Alby and now Don we have lost. With all three of them the principle was so solid. It matched a whole lot of other principles that they argued for and that Don would argue for when he would speak to me. He would say, 'It is not that significant to my seat, but it is absolutely paramount that, if it is their wheat, they have the right to sell it to whoever they want.' At a time when the coalition was still arriving at a position and the parties ended up going different ways, he was absolutely forthright in a way that I think every member of parliament would see as our job at its best.

He then moved on to taking up a lot of advocacy on particular beetles that he wanted to get through quarantine as a biological control. There are a number of speeches on that in the Hansard. I will not go into detail on the beetles, but that was an extraordinary example of somebody who would get down to the absolute nitty-gritty of an issue that affected their electorate. He would decide what he believed and pursue it relentlessly. We had meetings in the office on what he thought needed to be done. When I would say, 'Quarantine says there is a problem,' he would say, 'How do we fix it?' He would try to find a way through and to deliver.

Both he and Wilson Tuckey were known for their points of order during our time in government. Each of them would be waving their standing orders around. Wilson's were admittedly more well thumbed than Don's. Don would have his glasses on his head when he stood up. He was never afraid to speak out, and he was never afraid to be critical no matter who it hit. He was critical of the Howard government on wheat, just as he was critical of us on restricting pesticides. His criticism, though, would extend wherever he thought it should be aimed, and it was never aimed against his electorate.

I offer, again, condolences sincerely to Julie, Tess and Elliott but also, given the particular nature of what we are dealing with today and the very rare situation that we have lost one of 150 of us, to those opposite. Those opposite have lost a friend and a colleague in a very special way. I extend both to those members opposite and to the electorate staff of Don Randall our deepest sympathies. May he rest in peace.