Tuesday 17 November 2015
Hansard of the Legislative Council


Maintaining Friendships



Mr FINCH (Rosevears)  - Mr President, most of our enduring friendships are cemented when we are relatively young at school, or in our 20s and 30s.  While we continue to gather friends later in life, the relationship is seldom as strong as those earlier friendships.  Our early friendships are stronger because of longer common experiences.  Friendships can weaken and even dissolve if you do not work on them or if you do not continue to communicate and make contact, perhaps because of geographical separation. 
It is obvious that keeping in touch, with electronic media, is much easier now than it has ever been.  Some of us can remember when a telephone call to say you have written, was cumbersome and expensive.  Do you remember, we used to have those delays of a couple of seconds before you could hear the answer back?  It was very awkward.  Most of us remember those flimsy blue paper aerograms.  I know Majella from Hansard used to print those out.  She worked at the Commonwealth Bank and she remembers those very vividly.  Now we have email, we have Facebook, video link, Skype and the ability to email photographs in seconds.  I suspect, Mr President, more and more early friendships survive in spite of those geographical separations.
That has many benefits, even beyond the personal.  Networking with old friends is easier.  Cheaper air travel means that your old Tasmanian friends can return and they can spread their experience to benefit their former home.  The world has become smaller and friendships stronger.  Connections have economic as well as social benefits, and I will get to that shortly.
I bring this subject up because some of you met people who were visiting me from England.  The Stringfellow family stayed at the villa at Fern Tree where I spent much of my childhood.  Margaret and Allan are visiting Tasmania from their home in Lancashire.  It is their fourth visit here.  I have been back to see them a couple of times.  When I was 21 I visited them at Standish near Wigan where I got a job in the Carrington and Dewhurst textile mill .
Mrs Taylor - I am sorry to interrupt but the lady in question said the other day that you were 'a bad 'un'.
Mr FINCH - You do not understand the English.  That does not mean what you think it means.
 Members laughing.
 Mr FINCH - A bad 'un is actually a good 'un.  There is a problem with the Lancashire accent.  I remember when I was going over there, I worked with a chap in the north‑west of Western Australia and he said to me, 'You won't understand a thing they say'.  I said, 'Of course I will'.  I will give you an example.  I went to work one day and the fellow said to me, 'Down at t'Legion night … Eee, it were a great night, no danger'. 
Ms Forrest - So what is Hansardgoing to make of that?
Members laughing.
Mr FINCH - I still don't know what he said.  It was interesting because when I mentioned the textile mill, they had actually come out to work at Silk and Textiles at Glenorchy , one of Claudio Alcorso 's visions.  Then they got homesick and went back home.  I stayed with the family for a long time and really absorbed that Lancashire way of life.  Then I went to the motorway builders, McAlpine's, on a pipe-laying gang on a motorway between Liverpool and Hull.  Then, inevitably, as young Australians did then, I went to London and to Earls Court .
Ms Rattray - And there you met the lovely Carole?
Mr FINCH - Yes, I shared a house with five Aussie blokes and they also had girls from a house in Fulham .  We have all intermarried, which is just like in Tasmania.
Members laughing.
Mr FINCH - We were from different families, but we are all still friends.  I am sorry, I do not want to digress too much as I will get myself into trouble here.  We are all still friends, 45 years later.
I recently attended the seventieth birthday at Pearl Beach in New South Wales for one of them, Brian Eggert, and all nine people at that reunion were together in London 45 years ago.  They had all travelled to broaden their horizons, to make new friends.  Tasmanians, I have always believed, travel well - whether it is in Australia or internationally.  We are friendly and we take care of others.  We have not been brought up in a dog-eat-dog world.  We work well in a team, we are keen to learn and I have always found that our young people have plenty to offer.  We are always aware that Tasmania is home.  That gives us a great deal of strength as we travel.  Many of us then return to bring our experience and our skills back home.  The connections are maintained to enrich our communities.
I want to highlight also the University of Tasmania; that is a classic example.  Former students bound together as alumni often work overseas, but they remain connected and they help grow our community when they return.  They stay connected wherever they are in the world in numerous ways, through the alumni website, the alumni magazine, e-news and the social media channels.
Alumni are encouraged to become active participants within their local networks which provide opportunities for alumni with a common link to connect and then keep in touch with each other and the university.  UTAS recently held an alumni Welcome Home Week in this its 125th anniversary year.  With alumni travelling from around Australia and overseas, 23 000 former students visited the university across the week.  Quite amazing.  Whether you are a UTAS alumnus, or a Tasmanian like me working overseas, it is all about connection and forming those long-lasting friendships.  All this can benefit the Tasmanian community, and even its economy, in the long term.