Condolence speech for Don Randall

August 10, 2015

Mr TURNBULL (Wentworth—Minister for Communications) (13:33): Don Randall was a life enhancer. He was one of the great characters, one of the great indelible personalities that all of us encounter far too few of in our lives. He made everyone who met him more invigorated and more exhilarated. He was an exciting, electric personality.


He was also a remarkable grassroots politician. I do not say that in a technical way. His motto was, of course, 'You talk; I listen.' But he really practised that. Every politician says, 'You talk; I listen,' but Don Randall really meant it. On the various community forums I attended with him over the years in Mandurah, Champion Lakes and Perth, I could see that he absorbed the wisdom of his community. He absorbed the needs of his community. His brain was always thinking about how to find a solution.

This was particularly so in the communications area where the melancholy fact of life was that the construction of the National Broadband Network in Western Australia collapsed under the previous government when the contractor essentially imploded and virtually nothing was done. It was hugely disappointing. It took some time to get it cranked up again. Don was very alert to the needs of his community in that regard.

He took me out again and again—both before we were elected and afterwards—to make sure that I understood the granular requirements of his community. He left me in no doubt as to the urgency of the matter.

Needless to say, the construction of the National Broadband Network in the electorate of Canning accelerated following the election of the Abbott government. It was in very large part due to Don's advocacy. He set a great example for all of us. Many of his colleagues have spoken today about some of his more outrageous statements. He could sometimes be very colourful.

But I think he set us all a very good example not simply in his focus on his community, for which he was rewarded with continuing increasing electoral success, but through his focus on his family. All of us talked to Don about many things. I have listened to his passions and concerns and shared them: on Cuba, for example.

Even in foreign relations—and I address this to the foreign minister who is here—he was way ahead of his time. As we have seen, Obama is restoring diplomatic relations with Cuba; Don would have told him to do that years ago! Don Randall had diplomatic relations with Cuba well ahead of the United States. He was ahead of his time there.

But there was nothing of which he spoke to me or to his colleagues with more passion or more pride than his children. Tess and Elliott, you have lost a father—and it is a terrible thing to lose a father in the prime of life. It is a dreadful thing. We should all lose our fathers when they are very, very old men; when they are old and they have had a great innings. He was taken from you in the prime of his life.

But you know, he was never, ever lacking in a focus, a pride, and a passion for you. It is so easy in public life—and we all know this: it is a terrible trap, this business—to get distracted with the events of the day, and the momentous things that go on here, and the debates, and the media, and all of that stuff. 

Don was always focused on his family and on his wife Julie—Julie, he loved you so much, as you know, and he talked about you—but those two children of yours: he was so very proud . And he will always be proud—wherever Don is, he will be so proud of you. He was a great man. We will all miss him.

He was absolutely authentic—in many respects: family, love of his community, and service to his community but, above all, in being nothing other than himself.

There are not many more things that a good man can do in his allotted time; and that is what Don did. We miss him deeply. We cannot plumb the depths of your grief but all of us, in our own ways, know how you feel. And you know, because you have heard today, that you have the love of all of this House in your suffering. That love, I trust, will help you regain the strength that you need to live as Don would want you to do.

Farewell, Don Randall: a great Australian.

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