TRIBUTE TO DENIS BUCKNELL
The Hon. TREVOR KHAN
[11.08 p.m.]: I speak on the passing of the late Denis Bucknell, a long-time resident of Tamworth and a man of great humour and energy who worked tirelessly for his community. Denis passed away on 16 March. He is survived by his wife Beverly. He is the father of Tim, Sam, deceased, Paul, Nick and Jo. He is the grandfather to Rohan, Courtney, Chloe, Olivia, Elijah, Madi-Mei, Summer and Charlie. All can be justifiably proud of their husband, father and grandfather. I have known Denis for some years and we often met and had a coffee and chatted about matters relevant to Tamworth. I will turn to those issues shortly. What I was not aware of was some of his other interests. In an article published on 2 April 2012 in the Northern Daily Leader
, I read:
He had a longstanding relationship with country rugby union and cricket.
His love of rugby union developed from the age of 10 but it was his true dedication and contribution over the years that saw him become a life member of the Central North and Country New South Wales Referees Associations.
Friend and fellow Country New South Wales Referees Association life member Keith Hole said he had known Denis for many years during his long-standing commitment to the sport.
Mr Hole said:
I first got to know Denis in the early '80s, when I was a referee at country level and Denis was on the referee board which he has been since, I think, the early '70s. He was on it until the early to mid '90s and, when he announced his retirement from the board, we made him a life member.
Mr Bucknell had also played representative football at various stages throughout his playing career. The early 1970s saw him hang up his boots and step into more of a mentoring role as a referee and coach. Mr Hole said:
He was very well-known and was widely respected and valued for his knowledge and dedication to the sport.
The article goes on:
Mr Bucknell's love and devotion to his wife, Beverly, saw him take on the role as her full time carer more than 15 years ago when he discovered she had kidney failure. This led him to become a member of the New England Carer Support Service, where he became an advocate for carers within the community and a champion for renal dialysis patients in remote and regional areas.
He was also associated with Kidney Health Australia and his dedication to advocating kidney health saw him become one of the organisation's "angels" in 2010 recognising their extraordinary contribution to the kidney community.
It was his interest in issues relating to health that brought him and me together quite regularly to have coffee. He was a constant and committed advocate for the redevelopment of Tamworth Referral Hospital. Prior to the last general election he was regularly in touch with me to make sure that I was pressing the case within the Coalition for the redevelopment of the hospital. I must emphasise, however, that as a community champion he was prepared to speak to all comers. He had the ear of the former member for Tamworth, Peter Draper, and I have no doubt that Peter would join with me in acknowledging Denis's quiet persistence.
In addition, he was a committed advocate for an improvement to the Isolated Patients Transport and Accommodation Assistance Scheme [IPTAAS]. He saw that under the former Government the scheme had been allowed to languish and he pressed repeatedly for improvements to it. In this role he met more than once with the then shadow Minister for Health, Jillian Skinner. I have no doubt that his efforts played a key role in seeing the improvements to the scheme that have now been implemented. One improvement was ensuring that dialysis patients could create a cumulative weekly total of travel of 200 kilometres or more for renal dialysis. For example, a farmer from Gunnedah who travelled three times a week to Tamworth was not eligible for each individual trip, but three visits a week cumulatively now meets the Isolated Patients Transport and Accommodation Assistance Scheme criteria. Denis was instrumental in that change.
As I have indicated, Denis's further commitment was to Kidney Health. Denis regularly spoke to me about the particular problems faced by kidney dialysis patients across the New England north-west. Once again, I believe that Denis's work helped shape opinions within the new Government. We have lost a true champion of regional New South Wales. Vale and farewell Denis Bucknell.