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Monday, 10 August 2015
Page: 7827

Mr BRUCE SCOTT (MaranoaDeputy Speaker) (17:43): I rise in this condolence motion to a very good friend of this whole parliament. Obviously, to his constituency he will be a great loss. Can I just say firstly to his wife, Julie, and his two children, Tess and Elliott, I extend on behalf of my own family—and I think I should say also on behalf of the constituency of Maranoa—our deepest condolences on the loss of your father and your husband.

Don, coming from Western Australia, and myself, coming from Western Queensland, both know the tyranny of distance to come to this place. We know how it taxes your family and we know how it taxes yourself as a human being. But Don, with his passion, was always there for his constituency. I think in many cases, probably many in this place, occasionally your family come second. But knowing Don as I did, I think I learnt more today in this place from people who have spoken so passionately and in a way intimately about the Don Randall that they knew, I have learnt a lot more about him myself.

Don had a similar background to myself, growing up in a rural town—a rural background. In fact, he had a rural upbringing similar to my own. Had I known that he was pretty handy on a horse and in fact liked the odd rodeo, I would have made sure that he could have come out to my constituency in Western Queensland. He would have fitted in and would have loved some of the outback of my electorate. Knowing also about his love of tea and his relationship with Sri Lanka and the wonderful teas that we get from that part of the world, particularly Sri Lanka—once upon a time we called it Ceylon, and Ceylon tea was famous, obviously—I would love to have seen him in the outback of my electorate sitting down not with the Don Randall teapot making tea but with me, boiling up with my quart pot. I think I could have shown him real bush tea with a little flavour of eucalyptus smoke. That did not happen, but I learnt so much more about Don today that I did not know when he was in this place.

I would like to mention Don's work not only in this place but for charitable organisations, for autism and also for building relationships. This is an important part of our work that often is not necessarily appreciated or acknowledged: building relationships with countries in our region and in other parts of the world. An important part of our job—not the most important but an important part—is building on the relationships that have been established over many years with our diplomatic corps here in Canberra. I know that he recently established the friendship group with Cuba, which, of course, is now coming into the fold, with the United States recognising it. Once again, there was Don Randall, out there early in the piece, understanding that the most important thing you can do to help countries like Cuba that want to participate in the broader world is by recognising that we in our small way here in Australia can also build on the work of other countries—in this case the United States. The fact that a diplomatic post has been established here in Canberra also demonstrates our willingness as a country to cooperate and build that relationship.

Don did work like that, particularly with Sri Lanka. We all know the troubles that the Sri Lankans have been through, particularly in the north of Sri Lanka. He had quite a constituency of Sri Lankans in his own electorate. He made them feel part of Australia. We as Australians had established a relationship, but he also did his bit to reinforce that at a diplomatic level with the ambassador here in Canberra.

Don was also on the Speaker's panel. I, as the Deputy Speaker, and my office always found him cooperative, always wanting to do more. He was always willing to swap with someone else on the panel if they needed to because of another commitment in this place, such as a committee hearing, or if they were unable, perhaps, to be on duty on a particular day. Don was always there for the parliament. He was there for his other colleagues. I want to acknowledge the great work that he did as a member of the Speaker's panel and as a Deputy Speaker in this place.

He was also on the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade and served on the committee's Trade Subcommittee. We have been conducting an inquiry into trade and investment opportunities into the Middle East. I know that in those public hearings Don was always there, passionate about the trade and investment opportunities that his state of Western Australia could benefit from in building those relationships and understanding where the opportunities may be not only for Australia but, very importantly, for Western Australia. Whilst all of us who come to this place have our passion for our own constituency and our own home states—that is almost a given—Don was never diminished in his desire and his passion for Western Australia, for his own constituency in Western Australia and for the trade and investment opportunities that we all hope will continue to develop and grow over the years ahead, particularly if we can establish a trade agreement with the Gulf Cooperation Council.

In fact, Don was to be a delegate, were a committee visit to the Middle East to be enabled. I know he would have loved to have gone. Sadly, now that he has passed away, that place will be filled by someone else, but I know that whoever fills his place on that committee will always reflect on the great work that Don had done and the passion he had for his work as a member for his constituency, for Western Australia and, importantly, for the people of Australia.

I say in conclusion that, when somebody dies in office, it affects all of us in this place. It reminds us all of our own mortality and to make sure that we keep focused on not only the work that we have to do for our constituencies but our own families. As many have said in this place, let us make sure that we do not forget some of the things to do with our own families from time to time, because our own mortality is something that in many ways we have no control over. The fact that Don has, sadly, passed away so suddenly is a great shock to all of us and reminds us all of our own mortality.

I say once again to his wife, Julie, and to his two children, Tess and Elliott: I offer you my condolences and, I know, the condolences of this House. Our thoughts and prayers will be with you in the days and months ahead. I thank the House.