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Monday, 10 August 2015
Page: 7836

Ms GAMBARO (Brisbane) (18:29): It is with a heavy heart that I rise to speak on the condolence motion for Don Randall. At 62, Don passed away far too soon. I remember receiving a text message from my office, when I was leaving a meeting, to hear the terrible news of his passing, and I remember sobbing uncontrollably in my car.

Don was one of those incredible people. He was in the class of 1996. He was cheeky, he was honest, he was outrageous, but he was a dear friend. When Don gave you advice, you trusted him wholeheartedly. You could talk to him about anything at all and you knew that it just stayed there. He was an incredibly politically astute person, and many people have spoken today about his endless doorknocking and how he had this incredible pipeline to the heart and soul of his electorate. I inherited a couple of very slow horses when I married my husband, Rob, some eight years ago. I was constantly lamenting at how much money they would cost, and I know that Don gave me some very good advice on what to do and to be patient. He knew quite a lot about the horseracing industry because of his background.

There is so much to Don that many people did not see—the way that he would laugh, the way that he would joke. A member earlier spoke about that cheeky grin that he would get on his face when he was about to say something that he knew was going to be absolutely outrageous. He was an absolute joy to be around. He had a great love of Italian food and all things Italian, and he spoke Italian quite well. He was so proud of his daughter, Tess, and her Italian-speaking ability. He spoke very often to me about his trips to Italy and how he was intending to visit, again and again. He loved every Italian restaurant in Canberra, and I am sure that those of us who were his friends know all those restaurants off by heart. He knew the owners' names. His great love of wine and great love of all things Italian were there for everyone to see. Going out to dinner with Don was an adventure—he knew what to order; he took charge. He was one of those people that everyone trusted wholeheartedly to do the ordering, and he relished every moment of going out and entertaining. He loved Cuban cigars. Many people today have spoken about his great love of socialising and having a good time. He cherished every single moment of his life that he was here and he enjoyed every single aspect of it.

I was absolutely honoured to be able to attend his memorial service. His family and friends, his staff and hundreds of people from the community attended. He was much loved by all of the representatives that were there from Canning. His daughter, Tess, and his son spoke beautifully. Don, you would have been so proud of them. I know that you were incredibly proud of your children and your family. I would hear about Tess's Italian lessons all the time. I would hear about Elliott's football prowess. I know that you enjoyed your father-son times together, and they are the most precious things that you can have with your children.

As far as Don the international diplomat went, he was a passionate advocate for many countries. He was chair of the Australian-Sri Lankan parliamentary friendship group. He was very passionate about his latest role, which was the chair of the Australian-Cuban parliamentary friendship group. He was chair of the Australian-Japan parliamentary friendship group and was also on the Australian-Italian parliamentary friendship group. I was very pleased that I had the opportunity to dine with him and Tess at the last sitting of parliament at the Italian ambassador's. We had a wonderful evening and we shared some very good times that night, and I will treasure and remember them forever. He enjoyed visiting Cuba recently, and the Cuban ambassador was able to attend his service. He was an absolutely fearless advocate that a greater relationship be formed between Australia and Cuba, and I am sure that he would have done everything in his power if he were here today to make sure that those trade embargoes came off a lot quicker.

When he was part of the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade, which I chair, we would have visitors from all over the world visit us. We would have speakers, we would have experts in defence, we would have ambassadors who were returning to Australia or we would have ambassadors from any of the diplomatic communities that would come and talk to us. Don was not very diplomatic at all sometimes when it came to question time—he would just get straight to the crux of the problem. Whether he was talking to the visiting Turkish speaker or whether he was taking to a defence expert, there was no political correctness; Don called it the way it was. He did not mince his words or opinions, and for that I must say that I always admired him.

I will miss you very much, Don. I will miss going out on our regular Tuesday lunches, I will miss your smile, I will miss your compassion and I will miss your advice on how to get closer to my electorate. You had so many campaigning tips, even for someone like me, who had been here for a very long time, and the advice you gave me, Don, was always true and honest. You were taken from us far too soon and you will never be forgotten. You will always be remembered and you will always be in our hearts. I pay tribute to your wonderful family. I pay tribute to Tess and Elliott, your beautiful children, and to Julie. Our thoughts and prayers are with them and his wonderful staff at this time. Vale, Don.