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Tuesday, 6 February 2018
Page: 320


Senator MOORE (Queensland) (20:22): When my friend Lindsay Jones died last year, his friends gathered to remember a strong Labor man dedicated to social justice— a real Labor warrior. He didn't want any fuss. He just needed people to gather around and remember the good times and bad.

Lindsay was born in Blackall in 1939. His dad was a shearer and his mother was a teacher. He decided early that the values of the Labor Party were for him, and for the next 60 years he worked in and for the party. He held positions at every level at the state and local level: he was a candidate, he was a local councillor in the Toowoomba area, he also worked full-time in the party office as an official and, in his chosen job—the job that I think directed most of his life effort—as a community campaigner. Lindsay loved to campaign. He loved people. He loved to organise and most of all he loved to win elections. He didn't win as many as he wanted to, but he fought for years to ensure that Labor had the best possible chance to be with the community and to put forward our case—he just liked to campaign. I can't think of many Queensland candidates in that period who were not challenged, encouraged, advised and pushed by Lindsay Jones to get out there and do the job. I've never known anyone who liked to discuss strategies more than he did. His actual cry was, 'Are you with me? Are you with me?' That was the challenge to us as we were working in the field, to ensure that we were with him and we were out there. There was never time to rest; you had to keep up with the action.

When I first met Lindsay Jones, I was at school at a relatively small girls school in Toowoomba. At that time, in the 1960s and 1970s, when I met him, Lindsay Jones was the head athletics coach at Toowoomba Grammar. He coached that school to GPS championships—something that they hadn't done before—and he had a band of young men at that school that produced results that they didn't think they could, but they did under Lindsay Jones. My high school teacher decided it would be a good idea for Lindsay, with his experience, to come down and talk to us at the local girls' school to show us more about athletics. I think it was probably the only battle that Lindsay ever lost when he went from the full facilities at Toowoomba Grammar to our school, where we had never seen a hurdle or a shot-put or anything of that nature. We only had him for two days. He walked away and told me later that that was a campaign he did lose. But he brought those skills as an educator and as an organised person—he talked about the need to be organised—into his work for our party.

Lindsay joined the party in 1959 just after the major split in Queensland where, after many years of Labor government, we were not returned by the Queensland people for another 32 years. I don't think there were many weeks in those 32 years where Lindsay was not campaigning to ensure that we could do better. It was a turbulent time within the ALP. It was also a turbulent time within the community because that was the period of the Joh Bjelke-Petersen years in Queensland. There were a range of community campaigns going on that were looking at things ranging from the anti-Vietnam protests through to the peace movement, environmental issues and also the actual right to protest—the right to march. Those things were very important to Lindsay, and he worked very much with community groups, with other organisations, because he always believed that Labor was part of the wider community and didn't walk alone. Unless you made those links and connections, you would not be truly able to represent your community. Throughout that period, Lindsay built networks and he looked at developing real policy within our party.

These were tough times in the ALP in Queensland. There were significant difficulties, and a very strongly formed group was building up. Naturally Lindsay was involved in that, because what they wanted was more local engagement and more policy development. Lindsay was very strongly a champion for affirmative action, before many people were even talking about that. He truly accepted that there was a need to have more women and more people from different backgrounds involved in the party. This was not an easy fight, but he maintained this idea that we could grow, we could grow stronger and we could engage with more people.

Side by side with Lindsay for most of these years was his partner, Norma—a strong political activist herself. She was very active in the affirmative action program and also in women's reproductive rights, which didn't make her particularly popular in some parts of our party. While this reforming was going on in the 1970s, Lindsay and Norma were living in Toowoomba. The Toowoomba Labor Party branches became the centre of a national discussion about what should occur. If you go through the annals of Labor Party history, you will find documentation about Toowoomba local branches.

As with most strong activists in the party at this time, Lindsay was threatened with being expelled from the party—it almost became a sign of honour that you actually faced this process. There was a really interesting story about how the expulsion discussion at the local branch became a discussion around the rules. I found out, through the discussion about this process, about how the rules were overturned, and it was seen that the way the branch was trying to expel Lindsay did not meet the rules. He survived and was not expelled from the party that he loved, and he stayed on to be a loyal member for many, many more years. In fact, the reforming organisation to which he belonged did get the leadership in the Queensland party eventually, and those issues around building policy—about ensuring that you had local membership involvement and having people from all different backgrounds involved—did become the basis for a newer and stronger party.

I don't think anyone who worked with Lindsay was able to walk away unchanged. He challenged your views of the world, he challenged your views of the party, and he knew that we could work better. He actually wanted you to bring your ideas and your strength so that you felt valued and respected in your work. He loved working with people, and he built up networks that I think still exist today mainly because of the work that he, Norma and the many people who worked so strongly at that time did.

Lindsay will definitely be missed. He will not be forgotten, because I think the qualities he brought—the inspiration he brought and the joy he brought to working in the party—will be remembered into the future. He was a man of strong opinion, he was a man of real integrity and he was a man of immense energy. A champion athlete himself, he actually made sure that people looked after themselves when they were involved in their campaigns. In 2000 he was awarded the Centenary Medal for his contributions to sport, particularly in athletics, hockey and football. That was something that he treasured—that he was acknowledged in the wider community. I'm not sure whether that meant more to him than when he received his life membership for the ALP, but I know that they were both treasured for himself and for his family.

There are many people who are grateful to Lindsay Jones for the many things he brought to the party in Queensland—to the networks that he built with other community organisations and also because of his steadfast belief that we could do better. Those Labor values that were so important to him—that he learnt from his dad, who was a shearer in the bush, and which he never forgot—belong to all of us, and if people truly followed those values we would be able to put the case to the community as to why they should re-elect and continue to re-elect Labor governments.

I really want to thank you, Norma, for sharing Lindsay with us, for the great partnership you provided us with and for the inspiration you gave to so many of us. For you and your family, I can say from all of us that we are still with Lindsay and we will stay with him for many years into the future.