Tribute To Godfrey Eugene "Rusty" Priest, AM

About this Item
SpeakersPerry Mrs Barbara; McManus Mr Ian
BusinessPrivate Members Statements


Page: 2889

    Mrs PERRY (Auburn) [3.31 p.m.]: Last night I had the privilege of representing the Premier at a function held at Turkish House in Auburn and hosted by the Consul-General of Turkey, the Hon. Niyazi Aydali, the President of the Council of Turkish Associations of New South Wales, Mr Dursan Candemi, and the President of the Turkish Welfare Association, Mr Besir Karasu, to honour Rusty Priest, retiring President of the New South Wales RSL. I take this opportunity to acknowledge the close ties between the RSL and the Turkish community, and the role that Rusty Priest has played in forging these invaluable links. In doing so I also pay tribute to Rusty Priest for his many years of devotion and service to our wider community.

    Rusty Priest, member of the Order of Australia, retired warrant officer class one, former army pilot and highly decorated soldier and private citizen, is known more formally as Mr Godfrey Eugene Priest—a fact which I dare say few could claim to be in possession of. Perhaps this seemingly trivial observation is indicative of more than we may ever know. A man of the people, yet a leader, a former soldier yet a peacemaker, and an Australian who embodies what it means to be an Australian, to be in proud ownership of a heritage, a legacy, a history, yet part of a wider, diverse community of different peoples all committed to respect, tolerance, the healing of past wounds and the building of intimacy, understanding and mutual enrichment.

    I thank Rusty for all his efforts and sensitivity, most recently displayed by the return by the RSL of the remains of a Turkish Gallipoli soldier to the Turkish community in Melbourne. I also wish to pay tribute to the truly remarkable gestures and initiatives taken by the Turkish community towards the establishment of good relations with the RSL. The Turkish Youth Association founded the Anzac Memorial Plaque Program, which is aimed at placing plaques throughout the RSL clubs in Sydney and dedicated to commemorating the soldiers, both Australian and Turkish, who lost their lives at Gallipoli. Furthermore, the Turkish community in Sydney is committed to forging links between young people of Turkish background and members of the RSL, a move most commendable for its wisdom in building bridges aimed at spanning both cultural and age divides.

    I would like to pay special regard to the Turkish Welfare Association and the Council of Turkish Associations, for not only are they amongst the oldest of the Turkish community organisations in New South Wales but, more importantly, they are amongst the most active. As an Auburn councillor and now a member of Parliament, I am uniquely placed to observe that these organisations are truly wonderful models of a people who in equal measures affirm their ethnic and Australian identity, who care for their own but also for others, and who are spearheading the creation of a stable, progressive and harmonious multicultural society. I thank them for their example.

    We are often reminded of the fact that Australia, particularly New South Wales, is home to one of the most diverse societies found anywhere on Earth. As people from unique and different backgrounds we are encouraged by our families and communities to cherish and sustain the life and traditions of our respective cultures. We honour the lives and efforts of those who form the basis and inspiration of both our shared and unique histories. This is indeed a truly valuable and important pursuit, but how often are we reminded that we have a shared future to anticipate and it is imperative that we strive in the face of an ever-changing, turbulent world to build an environment of true harmony, peace and prosperity which we, as Australians, can all proudly call home. In conclusion, I offer my heartfelt thanks to the members of the Turkish Welfare Association, the Council of Turkish Associations and Rusty Priest for working so tirelessly to see this vision of the future realised.

    Mr McMANUS (Heathcote—Parliamentary Secretary) [3.36 p.m.]: As a Vietnam veteran I moved an urgent motion relating to the matters raised by the honourable member for Auburn. I thank the honourable member for the sentiments she expressed on behalf of the Turkish community in relation to Rusty Priest, who is not only the former New South Wales RSL President but also a particularly good friend of mine. We are all saddened by Rusty Priest's retirement, and I am pleased that the Turkish community has joined with the rest of the New South Wales community in wishing him well. It must be said that the relationship between those communities has developed so well that the Turkish community gave the name Anzac Cove to the body of water where many Anzacs died. That action has been instrumental in binding friendships between the Turkish community and the Australian community. I thank the honourable member for Auburn for her contribution.