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Monday, 10 August 2015
Page: 7844

Mr TAYLOR (Hume) (19:06): On Tuesday, 21 July I attended the funeral for Alby Schultz—as everyone knows, a great stalwart of the Liberal Party and a man of conviction and commitment. It was on my way home that afternoon that a friend rang me to tell me of Don's death.

I did not know Don for as long as many in this House, being a member of the class of 2013, and I did not know him as well as many in the House. But I did know Don in two ways: first, as a member of the Timmys Tuesday lunch group, which others have spoken to and which Don invited me to join based, I guess, on his friendship with my predecessor, Alby Schultz; and second, but perhaps more importantly, sitting next to someone in the House inevitably creates a special relationship, particularly, I suspect, in your first term in the parliament. It has been an extraordinary pleasure to sit next to Don for the last two years.

I thought it might be interesting to share some insights that I gleaned in my two wonderful years sitting next to Don here in the parliament. The first is one that we have heard much about. There is no doubt that Don was a man of extraordinary conviction. He never left anyone in doubt about his views. Like my predecessor, he was not shy and retiring in the chamber. I heard from him often—and often I had to put a hand over my left ear because of the noise created by Don when he felt that there was bad behaviour coming from the other side of the chamber. He was, of course, a strong and consistent conservative. I could often identify with Don's view of the world. When I look back at his first speech, there were some real gems. He wanted to see the end of the welfare state mentality, with a greater emphasis on hand-up instead of hand-out. He talked about Australia as a 'land of opportunity, where we can make our own luck'. Hear, hear to that!

As a man of conviction, I identified with him very quickly and very positively. But perhaps what is lesser known about him and what I found him to be was an extraordinary mentor. His observations about people on both sides of the House were always worth listening to. He was a great student of politics and, as we have heard from others, a man of great curiosity. Every time I wrote an opinion piece in one of our national papers, as I am wont to do, I could always be assured that Don would have read it, have questions about it and show great interest in it. That was the mark of the man, because he was primarily, as I said earlier, a man focused on his convictions and on his electorate, but he was always curious about other things.

Perhaps most of all I found him to be a man of the people and of his electorate. When I first got into parliament, he said to me, 'How have you enjoyed your time as a candidate?' I said, 'You know, Don, I enjoy it, but I've really surprised myself, because the thing I enjoy most is not standing on a street corner waiting for people to come up and speak to me but going out and knocking on doors.' He said, 'That's a good start, Angus. If you want to know what people really think, don't stand on the street corner; go knock on doors.' Several months ago, Don heard that I had been to dinner with a member of the press gallery. Next day, here in the chamber during question time, he started quizzing me about it. He was a bit disappointed that I would see fit to go and have dinner with a member of the press gallery. He said: 'I've seen lots of people start well in this place, but fewer people finish well. Don't get caught up in that press gallery world. It's a million miles from your electorate.' I certainly hope I can live up to your advice, Don, because you were right.

To Don: every time I look at that seat next to me, I will be reminded of your sharp, dry sense of humour. I will be reminded of a man who made me laugh almost every day, no matter how bad things were. I will be reminded of your extraordinary mix of conservatism and compassion. And I will be reminded most of all of why I am here—to represent the good people of my electorate. Don, in this place, you started well and finished well. I will miss you.