Mr BROADBENT (McMillan) (17:00): Well, Wendy, if you are watching, this is for you. I appreciate the words of both our ministers speaking on Eoin Cameron. I have most recently had contact with Eoin, and Christopher is right. We were both defeated in 1998, Eoin and I, and out of that forum I do not think we carried on a relationship. But once you have loved somebody—and when I first met Eoin and his wife I loved them on the spot, both of them, just loved them. We met in a street in Perth, and I was with Bruce Baird, and I recognised Eoin. I jumped to my feet, I hugged him and I sat down, and he was gone. Bruce said to me, ‘Who is that?’ and I said, ‘What are you on about? That is Eoin Cameron.’ To me, he was larger than life but to others—you are right, Christopher—they come into this place, they speak and they are gone.
My first moment of Eoin Cameron was when I was in my office and this voice came on to speak in the parliament. I was just stopped in my tracks—this beautiful voice. I thought, ‘Who is that?’ There have been three voices in this parliament—David Jull, Ian Sinclair and Eoin Cameron—and whenever they spoke you just had to listen to the depth and melody of the voice that just commanded the room. Unbelievable.
There was another very unusual thing about Eoin Cameron, and it was that Petro liked him. Petro did not like many people, Petro Georgiou. I thought that if Petro likes this guy and he is a friend of the member for Sturt, he cannot be all that bad. I was included, then, in their get-togethers and dinners. He was just amazing to be around. I have read his book Rolling into the world, Wendy. The first time I read it, I cried and laughed and cried, and I would have killed this kid. If I had been his father, I would literally have killed this kid and everybody who travelled with him. What they did to their father—I have electric fences at home; you have to be careful with electric fences. One of the stories told was that their boys turned it off, wrapped it around the bumper bar of the Vanguard, which was the family car the time, flooded the whole area around the Vanguard with water, and then turned it back on for their father to walk across to the car, hit the car and be thrown back.
Another time, you know how delicate dairy cows are—you know, Kevin. They got four penny bungers stuck above the driveway. They planned to wait until the cows, which their father was herding up, were in the driveway and then blow them up in the middle—I was trying to read this last night, coming in, and I was just so embarrassed because I was in tears laughing at what this fellow got up to as a youth. Yet he achieved so much in his life—his compassion for issues, for people, for little people particularly, for people who could not speak for themselves, his love for his wife and his family. The whole issue of family was played out in every moment of his life.
We hear people say, ‘I’m retiring to go home to my family.’ You think yeah, yeah, yeah. You have just been fired or thrown out or lost your preselection or dudded or something. This guy actually lived his life in regard to his family. Throughout his book he talks about the importance of family and how he revered his elder brother, and how he tormented his younger sisters and what he did to them.
One day, they were throwing stones at their baby sister as they were going to school—disgrace!—and she cut her lip on one of the stones they threw at her. This got back to the father at the house. She ran back to the house and told Dad. Dad came up to the bus, got the two boys off the bus, belted the living daylights out of them and then put them back on the bus, which did not do their egos much good. In the book, he touches on what happened to him at the school that was inappropriate, but he goes further later on.
I did not know he was bipolar. I saw a parliamentarian actually doing what a parliamentarian should do and representing his constituents in a manner that had a lot to emulate. He was a member of parliament and I have read a couple of his speeches, especially about his near accidents flying in and out of Perth and what he did with aircraft controllers and the issues surrounding that. It did not matter what the issue was, he was passionate about it. I am only sad that I was not a participant in hearing his radio programs or seeing some of the things that the minister knows about but will not tell us. I think he has done a disservice to me, to those gathered in this room and to Wendy and the family by not telling those stories, but I have worked it out. It may bring the minister into disrepute, because he was probably naughty enough to be a participant in some of the pranks that were played or some of the things that happened in Eoin’s career!
In reading Mr Cameron’s maiden speech, he had a great dream for the nation to be the nation he wanted it to be. He wanted us to ensure that we handed on to the next generation greater opportunities than they had been given themselves. The member for Sturt mentioned that Eoin’s grades went from very good grades to crashing and then him leaving school at 14, but that did not seem to be an impediment. He describes his first job, which he decided really was not for him. It goes on to say how many jobs he had before he settled and got into radio and did the things that he did.
But this is the most important thing. If we measured our lives in laughter and fun, I would have to say that Eoin Cameron lived six lifetimes in one. If life were measured in laughter and fun, this man lived six lifetimes in one. We have a lot to learn from that. I was absolutely saddened to hear of his death because he was my age, and I have a long way to go. I am sure he had a long way to go too. I have to say to you, Wendy: do not think we are not sad, because we are. I think this is a very sad time, especially when you read the obituary. ‘”Great shambling ratbag” changed lives’ is the headline of his ABC obituary. We are sad. This is a sad time—a sad time for you and your family and, as the minister pointed out, for all your children and grandchildren—but you will have memories that other, lesser mortals will never have because of who he was, what he was and the things that he did.
You know, one of the hardest things you could possibly do in life is to be courageous enough and brave enough with your own experience to share it with an audience of hundreds of thousands around Perth and millions around the world, where you actually change the lives of people. He did it in the House, because he changed my attitude—and Petro’s and Christopher’s and probably lots of others—just from that short time we spent with him.
Wendy, to you and all yours, thank you for the very short time you gave him to this nation as a parliamentarian. Thank you for the way that you offered him to the public through his radio program—great memories. Thank you, Wendy. Thank you, family. Vale Eoin Cameron.