Tuesday 13 March 2012

Hansard of the Legislative Council


MR FINCH (ROSEVEARS) - The memories are flooding back as I listen to other members making their contributions and I remember my own development as a parliamentarian. I did receive some approaches when I had my media company after leaving the ABC and I felt that the lower House was really not for me, so I made the investigation about what happens here in the Legislative Council. I felt that that was where I was destined to play a role if the opportunity came my way and so I made some investigations about Ray Bailey, the President, to see whether he was going to stand again in 2002 and the message that came back to me was that he was going to stand again, so that put paid to my political career and I just went on with the job.

However I remember driving up Wellington Street. It was nine weeks before the election for Rosevears and the news came on that Ray Bailey had announced his retirement so I decided to stand for the seat. I did talk with Ray about the job at hand and what it entailed, seeking his advice, which was forthcoming. I recall his saying to me that he and his wife, Lynne, doorknocked every street, every house in his electorate of Cornwall to be re-elected, and that would have been in 1996. He used the electoral roll to match up the people in the houses where they were doorknocking so that they had the list of every person who lived in every house in their electorate. So of course my immediate question was, 'Have you still got the list?' But of course that electoral roll information was not available to me as an unelected member. But Ray Bailey was so accommodating in that first meeting.

I want to quote Michael Bailey, who is a nephew of Ray, and Michael is now executive officer of the Launceston Chamber of Commerce. He says that Ray was an amazing uncle. He was a gentleman in every respect. Words that come to mind when I think of Ray are fair, thoughtful, funny, hardworking and with a sense of obligation to those around him, a family man. Ray was hardworking and loved to work on his farm at Cleghorn Avenue in Riverside fattening cattle. As Michael said, 'I always felt he was most comfortable in manual labour'. Ray, as we have heard, was an outstanding sportsman, especially footballer, and in North Hobart's Team of the Century that accolade is not applied lightly and certainly, as the member for Huon mentioned, the champions who played for North Hobart had a very coveted position, particularly at centre half-forward.

Ray came on to play for us at the Launceston Football Club. A story that Michael wanted to mention to highlight the extent to which he was regarded many years after he finished playing football was that he was watching North Hobart play, and North Hobart at that time had a very talented footballer by the name of Patrick Bailey. He was no relation, but he was part of the team. Two elderly gents were arguing in front of Ray as to whether Pat was indeed the son of the great Ray Bailey. The discussion became more heated until Ray intervened and informed the men that Pat was indeed no relation. 'How the hell would you know?', shouted one of the blokes. Ray, in his usual understated way, pointed out that he was indeed Ray Bailey and should have some idea of whether Pat was his son or not. As legend goes the two gents, now very red-faced, watched the remainder of the game in stony silence.

Ray was exceptionally proud to represent the people of Cornwall. 'He never forgot his roots nor his obligation to his constituents.' That was said by Ray Bailey's nephew, Michael Bailey.

Madam President, I spoke with your predecessor, Don Wing, in respect of their very close association. He had a very high regard for Ray Bailey not only as a work colleague, a fellow lawyer, but also as both being members of the Legislative Council. Don said that one of his features as a member was the thoroughness with which he prepared to debate legislation, as we have heard. He used to irritate Michael Aird because he picked up so many points which needed debating in the legislation. Peter Rae mentioned at his funeral how well-reasoned his arguments were when he presented them on the Floor of the Chamber.

He had five years as President. During that time he was persuaded not to wear the robes of President. Evidently when he first started he would ritually wear the robes. The consensus from members here was not to wear them.

Mr Harriss - He asked our view as to whether they should be dispensed with or not.

Mr FINCH - Then the decision was made. I think when he got the consensus that people were not enamoured of that style of dress he acceded to that.

He was very conscientious in taking up issues for people. He had a firm view on issues and he took them on with a quiet vigour. These are the descriptions by Don Wing. There was great teamwork with Lynne and Ray. I mentioned before the 12 000 electors of Cornwall and he and Lynne, I failed to mention earlier, were a great team. They in fact did that doorknocking together. It is sad that Lynne now has her own health difficulties. Don says that Ray was a very sound person and very ethical in all that he did. I might point out that in recent years Ray and I had an association with New Horizons, the sporting club for people with disabilities. Ray and Lynne were patrons of that organisation. The way that they endeared themselves to the members, the carers and all the people there was a measure of the way that he conducted himself in the community. I might say too that with Ray I came here and I, like others, sat in the seat that the member for Pembroke is now sitting in -

Ms Forrest - It was the new member's seat then.

Mr FINCH - Yes, it was the new member's seat and, of course, I was being guided by the member for Nelson at that stage.

Mr Dean - That's a worry.

Ms Forrest - So was I.

Mr FINCH - Yes, how unfortunate, but I am being guided by the member for Nelson so obviously after the first couple of years I was getting pretty nervous about what it all meant.

Members laughing.

Mr FINCH - I remember seeing Ray in the street one day. He had gone back to his previous profession as a lawyer and I snavelled him as he came past Henty House and said, 'Ray, when do you get used to the procedures of the Legislative Council? When do you start to feel relaxed?' and he said, 'Kerry, after your first period in office. When you're re-elected you relax much more and you start to get more of a handle on the way things work'.

I would like to add those words with regard to my respect for Ray Bailey and the figure that he became as a representative of the community and of this Chamber.