Hansard of the Legislative Council
Thursday 14 April 2011
The member for Launceston, I will use the term 'friends' and hope that does apply because that is the way I feel about our relationship.
Mr Wing - And you don't need the inverted commas.
Members laughing.
Mr FINCH - I do not know why I did that but I am always interested when I get up here to see what I am going to do and say.
Our time goes back to when you were Mayor of Launceston and I was with the media at that time and we had that relationship particularly for Australia Day.
Mr Wing - Which you compered so very well.
Mr FINCH - Thank you. See, he just cannot help himself.
Members laughing.
Mr FINCH - That was a terrific community event and I think that is really what you were all about, about your community and serving the community and I have a note here of what a good example you are to us here in this House but I think also in the community as well. I think you have set a good example for us and others who were looking to make a contribution to community and we only had to follow your lead and the way you conducted yourself and the way you embraced the issues of the community and the way you cared about your community. We are talking about learning a lot from you and I certainly did at that time in respect of you and community.
It was interesting, I had some approaches politically and I had never, ever considered a political career. I think I might have been on the cusp of leaving the ABC, in fact I am just recalling a conversation that I did have about politics but I think I was still at the ABC, and I needed to take some advice about that approach. I did come to you - and you might recall this - just to find out what politics was all about and I remember you explaining how parliament worked and certainly I said I would not be going there but I think I would like to come here if I were to choose politics as part of my future. It was interesting because I thought, after you explained it to me, 'Yes, I could do that' and now it is pretty obvious that I cannot.
Members laughing.
Mr FINCH - Anyway, the seed was sown because I did not think with the former President, Ray Bailey, who retired from the seat of Rosevears I was quite comfortable with him being my representative and there was not a thought that I would try for politics, enter politics or be part of it while he was my member. But then about nine weeks out from his impending re-election he retired from politics. Because I had given consideration to the situation with the member for Launceston then it was a decision that I needed to make with my family as to whether I wanted to go down that path and because of the advice I was given I chose to contest and was successful. I then came down here to continue our friendship and I must say I was really feather-bedded, as I think everybody would feel that way when we come into this place. It is such a welcoming and warm circumstance to come into and the tradition continues with our President now and the staff who really ensure that comfortable journey into the Legislative Council is enjoyed by everyone but you particularly made me most welcome and you know those times of the hospitality that were extended to us, we will not go down the path of recalling the story of the Joe Chromy wine and the advice that you gave on leaving your rooms and turning back to the member for Western Tiers and me and saying, 'Help yourself'.
Members laughing.
Mr Wing - A fatal mistake.
Mr FINCH - That is right, a fatal mistake. Anyway, a good memory nonetheless. Talking about the hospitality we will always recall, those of us who were here at the time, the invitation to Fiddlers' Bid to come into the House and to entertain us in the dining room and in other locations and it was a reflection of Don's concern, consideration and openness to life and to people that brought about that wonderful experience. I was working for Ten Days on the Island at the time and doing the publicity for Fiddlers' Bid in the northern part of the State. Fiddlers' Bid, the group members, were staying at Wrest Point and as they were in the lift the member for Launceston got in the lift and said, 'Hello, how are you? Where are you from? What are you doing here?' blah, blah, blah - just making general conversation
Mr Wing - What do you mean, 'Blah, blah, blah?'
Members laughing.
Mr FINCH - You know what I mean, general conversation, and invited them to come here. They were from the New Hebrides and you said, 'Bring your instruments and come to Parliament House and join us for dinner'. It was just a wonderful night. Just recently two of the members of the group were made welcome by the member for Launceston back in Launceston again and we went to the football and explained how it all works and again Don has maintained that contact. I think that is a wonderful -
Mr Parkinson - It has never been put on the record but they played in here much to the disgust of the Clerk of the House.
Mr FINCH - I did not want to divulge too many details of what occurred but Don maintains his contact with people. It is not just fleeting friendships or contacts, he does and like he did with you, member for Windermere, and others too. I think that we can all take a leaf out of your book in the way that you maintain contact with people and develop those links with people that become, as you have experienced with students you have helped here, you are now helping their children and you are visiting those people and they have their families and now it will be grandchildren next thing. Those links and bonds are something that I think is in some ways unique to you. I was looking for a key word in respect of when I think of your qualities and a lot have been mentioned here so I will not go over those. I think the word that came to me is 'consideration'. I think what you have is consideration for other people. Their lives, the way that they live, how they are developing, troubles and turmoils or the highlights of their lives. You are considerate of their situation and you are interested in people - you like people. I think that is a powerful part of who you are.
Your qualities too in respect of coming back on the Floor from being in the position of President: I think it was with interest that people watched your situation where you decided to come back on the Floor and how you would deal with that, and if it would represent, as you suspected, an opportunity to get up and speak and have your say on behalf of your constituents. We have witnessed that. You have been a fantastic orator in respect of the way that you present your debate and your contributions to the debate. You do adopt the public speaker's motto of making every word count.
I think it must be your lawyer's training but you are very good with the use of the English language and we fully understand where you are coming from and you do explain yourself quite fully. In fact, I have a journalist friend who says that 'Don is a clear speaker with the style of a statesman but it is hell getting a 10-second grab out of him'.
Members laughing.
Mr FINCH - We have appreciated watching your performances back on the Floor and it has been wonderful to have had those. We have gone through the list of your passions, the LGH, UTAS, the Tamar River, road safety, your independence - and you talk about it so often, probably not one here that you have talked about but certainly in our community, the reinstatement of the post office in Launceston, the retention of the Royal Flying Doctor Service in the north, tourism, the Cataract Gorge and of course another community project, another theatre for Launceston.
These are the things you do not just show a passing interest in; you drive them, you follow them and we remember the strength of your argument. I was quite surprised, though, in looking at your inaugural speech going back to your discussion about the numbers in this House.
Mr Wing - It changed completely.
Mr FINCH - Yes. It was interesting to read that, that your thoughts have changed on it and it is good to see somebody who has not held their ground on that and that you have been prepared to change your thinking and express to us your opinion and leave that implanted in our minds as we prepare for the future.
Dr Goodwin - Surely you have not forgotten AFL football?
Mr FINCH - No, I did not want to upset you.
Dr Goodwin - How could anyone forget AFL football?
Mr FINCH - It goes without saying. There is no need to even mention it. I am looking forward very much to tonight and the conviviality that will ensue in the farewell for you. I am looking forward to sharing that time with you again but, as the member for Elwick and others have mentioned, you will be a great loss.
You are taking away nearly 30 years of corporate knowledge and you are somebody we could seek advice from and follow your example so you will be a great loss to this House. I have really appreciated spending the last nine years with you.