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Thursday, 20 June 2002
Page: 4152


Mrs DRAPER (12:47 PM) —For the benefit of the previous speaker, the member for Shortland, it is clearly in the budget papers that anybody within five years of retirement age or reaching age pension age would not be required to do intensive assistance, nor would their pension be changed. I can send you a copy of the budget papers if you so wish.


Ms Hall —Maybe you should send it to Centrelink. They are the ones who do not know.


Mrs DRAPER —I do have the right to be heard in silence.


The DEPUTY SPEAKER (Hon. I.R. Causley)—Order!


Mrs DRAPER —I would like to pay tribute to a constituent from my electorate of Makin, Mr Tomislav Popovic. Tomislav Popovic has had a very adventurous life, although much of it was not of his own choosing and has resulted from events in war torn Europe. Born in Yugoslavia, Tomislav was arrested at the age of 16 for opposing the new communist regime that took power at the end of World War II. It must have been a terrifying experience, particularly for one so young. In Tomislav's own words:

Human life meant nothing to the Communists in those days.

In a dramatic and successful rescue attempt, a friend broke down the door of the room in which Tomislav had been interrogated and they both fled from the communist authorities and their beloved home town. Tomislav escaped across the border to Greece, where he spent 2½ years, and then to Italy, where he spent another 1½ years in a displaced person's camp.

When officials from an international refugee organisation visited his camp, he applied to come to Australia. All he knew about our country, at that time, was that it was very big with millions of sheep and cattle. He does not recall ever having heard of kangaroos before coming here, so we can only imagine the shock he got when he first saw one of our most celebrated native animals bounding up and down in the Australian bush.

Arriving in Melbourne in 1950, Tomislav was taken to a camp where people were allocated different places to work. For a time he picked grapes and fruit along the Murray River, with Berri as his base. Eventually Tomislav came to Adelaide and lived at the Finsbury Hostel for a while.

Like so many of our migrant population, Tomislav was determined to succeed in his new country and succeed he did. But he also has a strong sense of community and genuinely cares for his fellow man. For six years, Tomislav served tirelessly and with dedication as the President of the Serbian Community in South Australia. More recent political events in his country of origin have not always made his role an easy one, but Tomislav is a very tolerant man.

With his wife, Jelena, his two sons and a daughter and eight grandchildren, Tomislav can take pride in the fact that he has lived a good life and made a wonderful contribution to his adopted country. Recently this country was able to show its gratitude to Tomislav by awarding him the Medal of the Order of Australia in the Queen's Birthday Honours List. It is a fitting tribute to a man who has served his community well and provided a fine example for other new arrivals to our shores. The last word should go to the man himself, Tomislav Popovic. He gives credit to his family and to Australia, which he says `gave me freedom, for which I am immensely grateful'.