Death Of Anthony Kenneth Doyle, A Former Member Of The Legislative Assembly
DEATH OF ANTHONY KENNETH DOYLE, A FORMER MEMBER OF THE LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY
Mr CARR (Maroubra - Premier, Minister for the Arts, and Minister for Ethnic Affairs) [4.51]: I move:
(1) That this House desires to place on record its sense of the loss this State has sustained by the death of Anthony Kenneth Doyle, a former member of the Legislative Assembly.
The triumph the Australian Labor Party feels at its victory on 25 March is tinged with sadness at the loss of one of our colleagues, a colleague respected by us all, a colleague who was part of the rebuilding of Labor in New South Wales after the defeat in 1988, a colleague who was part of our lives and a colleague whom we miss deeply. Tony Doyle was born in Sydney on 8 May 1953 and schooled at Ku-ring-gai High School. He subsequently obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of New South Wales. He worked on the staff of former Premier Neville Wran and former Attorney General Paul Landa. After Paul Landa's death in February 1985 Tony Doyle was elected at a by-election for the seat of Peats.
I and many of my colleagues well recall campaigning for Tony Doyle in that electorate during the summer and getting to know the people of that part of the central coast as we put the case for the election of Tony Doyle. It was not a hard case to mount because Tony had been part of the life of that region and had already achieved a great deal by way of service to local communities, especially to older people. We were thrilled when Tony was elected. He comfortably assumed his duties as a member of this Parliament and began to set an impressive standard of service as the honourable member for Peats. It is not surprising that, following our defeat in 1988, Tony was elected to the shadow front bench. I made him shadow minister for planning and, inevitably, for the aged. Tony's work for older people was well recognised. In fact, on that score, many of us recall the huge celebrations he organised for older people on the central coast - the great barbecues and gatherings. No-one else could have done it as well as Tony. He had a genuine concern for older citizens and they responded to that. His advice on State government policy as it affected older people was always sound. He was in contact with all the organisations that serviced older people. He would have made an outstanding minister, with the aged as one of his responsibilities.
He took on the responsibility for planning and involved himself in the development of policies to protect our coastline in particular - the protection of our coastline being a controversial issue in the Parliament between 1988 and 1991. Tony did very well at it. Following the 1991 election he volunteered his skills for the difficult portfolio of corrective services. On the eve of the last State election, at a time when Tony was very sick, I was able to release a policy on corrective services which was well received and widely recognised by all interest groups and lobby groups concerned about corrective services as being a practical and forward-looking document. It also received acknowledgment by the community and those with a specialist knowledge of this area, and will be able to be implemented by our colleague the Minister for Corrective Services, and Minister for Emergency Services, the honourable member for Blue Mountains. But Tony deserves credit for that policy document.
Tony took a keen interest in juvenile justice policy as well. He was keen to strike a balance between suitable detention and rehabilitation. That was reflected in the policy work he assisted with in Opposition. Tony's involvement with the central coast developed at an early age during his visits to his grandmother, who lived in that area. He had an
outstanding reputation in the community as an effective representative - a fighter - for the seat of Peats. He achieved a huge margin in that seat, which reflected the credit his electorate gave him for his work in that area. I mentioned earlier the great celebrations he arranged for older people. The Christmas concerts some of us attended and the enthusiasm of those who attended can be attributed to Tony's work.
I said at the service held for Tony Doyle that we do not know what he would have achieved as a member of this House if his health had held, if he had not been struck down so prematurely. I said at his service that we have no idea of the things he might have done, not only as a minister but also as someone continuing to serve his electorate and continuing to fight for the central coast region. But we do know - we know enough about Tony to know - what he achieved as a human being. That is on the record. We know it because we are the people who worked with him. I know, for example, how cooperative, how mature and how helpful Tony was during the dark days on our side of politics after the 1988 defeat. Tony lent all his weight to the task of rebuilding a party which, at that stage, was 20 seats behind in this Chamber.
Tony always had a smile; he was always good-spirited; he was always cooperative; he never had a chip on his shoulder and he never harboured resentment; and he was always looking at what he could do to assist in the political task of rebuilding. That is how I will remember him. Other honourable members will have different memories. In the shadow of that big defeat in 1988 that is my memory of him. My memory of him is the spirit he brought to bear as a member of my team and the help he was to me. I also recall, sadly, the dignity of his last conversation with me. He phoned just before Christmas to say that his health was such that he would be resigning from Parliament. I said, "Your colleagues and I can arrange help in your seat to carry on your work." He said, "Bob, I think it has gone beyond that at this time." He displayed an enormous amount of dignity and courage as he approached the last stages of his illness. As it happened, he resigned from Parliament on 20 December and died on 23 December.
His potential as a member of Parliament, serving his local electorate and working as a minister, will never be known, but his potential as a human being was known and realised. As long as there are members in this House who served with Tony, that memory will be alive. He will live in our memories. I remember him as a cheerful bloke, a cheerful colleague in a period of political disappointment and stress. He was a bloke who handled with unmatched dignity the illness that engulfed him at the end of last year. Tony is survived by his parents and by a brother and sister. At this moment we extend to them our heartfelt condolences.
Mr COLLINS (Willoughby - Leader of the Opposition) [5.00]: On behalf of the Opposition I join the Premier in extending sympathy to the family of the late Tony Doyle. Our sympathy is extended to Tony's parents and brother and sister in particular. Tony was a hard-working member of Parliament who, until the very last, gave his time to his constituents. In return, he was respected and trusted by those he represented in the State Parliament and by those he worked with. One indication of Tony's commitment to his constituents in his electorate of Peats was given in an article in the Australian shortly after his death. The article referred to an incident that took place about five years ago. A frail elderly lady on the central coast found her cat stuck in a tree. With no-one else to call, she dialled the telephone number of her local member of Parliament. Tony, local legend has it, went in the middle of the night to rescue the cat and comfort the lady.
Tony's dedication and conscientious nature compound the tragedy of his untimely death. At the age of 41, Tony, as has already been said, was not given the opportunity to fulfil his potential in what would have been a prominent career in New South Wales politics. Even when Tony was appointed Opposition spokesman for planning in 1988 he continued to be a strong advocate for his constituents, speaking out on issues such as development along the north and central coasts of this State. He had a clear set of objectives and it is indeed tragic that he died at an age when he was beginning to make a more significant contribution to the society in which he lived.
Following his appointment in 1981 as shadow minister for the difficult portfolio of corrective services, Tony spoke out on a number of issues relating to the implementation of justice in this State. He was vigilant in advocating that convicted criminals should comply with job release and work release programs, and he was determined to pursue the provision of adequate staffing levels in prisons. He very wisely supported amendments proposed by the Fahey Government to the Sentencing Act that were intended to give judges the power to ensure that murderers sentenced to life imprisonment before 1989 served a genuine life term, in effect closing the door on future applications for their early release.
Tony remained a member of Parliament until it was painfully obvious to him that he would no longer be able to fulfil his responsibilities. The fact that he resigned only three days before his death is indicative of the value he placed upon serving the public that elected him. It is perhaps some consolation that he was able to give a little more than a decade of strong representation to his constituents of Peats. Even during the most difficult time of his life, when it was evident that his health was progressively worsening, Tony considered his obligations to his constituents as being paramount. On behalf of the Opposition I commend this motion honouring Tony Doyle.
Dr REFSHAUGE (Marrickville - Deputy Premier, Minister for Health, and Minister for Aboriginal Affairs) [5.03]: I join the Premier and the Leader of the Opposition in marking the untimely death of Tony Doyle and extending our condolences to Tony's family and friends. Many of us will
remember when Tony first stood for Parliament during that heatwave in February 1985 and we were out doorknocking. It was not only a very important fight for us, it was a fight that we took up with relish and one that was much appreciated by Tony. Every person who turned up to help was made to feel that it was he or she who turned the extra votes that made it possible for the Labor Party to win Peats. Tony went out of his way to ensure that all those who turned up at his office felt that they were the extra special help that made it all possible. Tony was like that - he was very much a people person.
Although Tony was a politician - and descriptions of politicians abound - he never forgot that it was the electorate that elected him and that it was the electorate that he was primarily responsible for and primarily responsible to, and he always worked primarily for his electorate. Tony never forgot his Labor traditions and the philosophy of Labor, and they always melded with his commitment to his electorate to make sure that in any discussions - whether in shadow Cabinet meetings, in caucus, in his work in Parliament or in his work in the community - he was fighting for social justice, fighting for a better deal. Tony never forgot those who did not vote for him; he recognised that the local electorate always deserved his full effort, and he gave it. As the Premier has said, Tony was a man we came to know well and a man we came to respect. We saw his human side and we saw his potential as a human being.
We are all very sad that Tony's potential as a minister, as a leader on the government benches, will never be realised. It certainly would be a better State if he were sitting with us here now as a member of the Cabinet. Tony's illness was obviously painful for him and it is a tribute to his courage that despite the obvious physical pain he was suffering for so long he kept on doing his duty for his electorate, kept on attending the Parliament and kept on making sure that the needs of his electorate were being catered for. Tony always said that people come first. It is important that we never forget that.
Mr ARMSTRONG (Lachlan - Leader of the National Party) [5.06]: I join the Premier, the Leader of the Opposition and the Deputy Premier in expressing sympathy to the family of Anthony Kenneth Doyle on the loss of a son and brother. Tony Doyle was a diligent worker in this Parliament, as has been said by previous speakers. He was a man who, to the observation of the National Party members of this place, was loyal to his party, loyal to the Parliament and conscious of the position to which he had been elected by a majority of voters in his electorate. They are indeed admirable tenets. We should never forget that we are elected to this place by a majority of our constituents, and we should repay that confidence. I am sure that Tony Doyle was a person who respected that. On those last few occasions that Tony was in this Chamber we all felt for a man who was obviously very ill but was stoic in his demeanour and was going to carry out his duties to the last, despite the torrid ill health that he was suffering. Death is always sad - always sad - but when it comes at the age of 41 it causes an increasing sadness that touches each and every one of us. The National Party expresses its sympathy.
Mr FACE (Charlestown - Minister for Gaming and Racing, and Minister Assisting the Premier on Hunter Development) [5.08]: I should like to add to the condolences conveyed today to the family of the late Tony Doyle and to offer my sympathy and that of all those who knew him, especially those in the Hunter region. I first came in contact with Tony when he became a member of the staff of Neville Wran and, later, of Paul Landa; so I knew him long before he became a member of this House. From the outset one warmed to Tony and his pleasant disposition. He was not a complicated person and he always tried to assist wherever he could. Tony's entry into Parliament followed another tragedy, the death of the Hon. Paul Landa.
The seat of Peats was established in 1973 and comprised a large portion of the former electorate of Gosford, because of the burgeoning population in the area at the time. Keith O'Connell - who, I might add, does not enjoy the best of health himself these days - was the first member for Peats. There followed a very short period of incumbency by Paul Landa, and Tony was the next member for Peats. The 1985 Peats by-election, in the middle of the summer, was hard fought. Tony was so disturbed by various incidents that he made reference to them in his maiden speech. He was not the sort of person to seek recriminations, but he was obviously disturbed by various antics and incidents at that time. I probably know better than anyone else; I was sent there to assist him. I did the usual things around the clubs and hotels, I played lawn bowls and did other things I have been known to do in by-elections.
One could not help but be moved by the fact that Tony was respected. Many people thought he came to the central coast by accident. In fact, he had been there with his grandparents from the time he was a small child. He loved the place so much he used to say that once he crossed the Hawkesbury River he thought he was home. He loved the local environment and everything that was linked to that electorate. Though Tony was barely 30 years old at that time he had an uncanny ability to deal with aged people. That is a requirement in Peats, in which probably 50 per cent of the residents are more than 55 years old. He worked for the benefit of those who had come to know him. He also enjoyed travelling around his electorate. When I was a shadow minister and subsequently when the Labor Party was in government I became aware of his ability to identify the needs of the community.
I came to know Tony because we shared adjacent rooms for the past six and a half years whilst in Opposition. The obituary in the Australian of 30 December 1994 by Sid Marris encapsulates the life of Tony Doyle. Although many people thought they knew him, he was an immensely private person - and that was the way Tony wanted it. Pat Rogan and I
were probably closest to him, and when contacted by a journalist we were able to pass on a few things about him. In his early days in Parliament he liked to go to the Wentworth Hotel. On a cross-factional basis a few of us used to wander down there when the House rose. One night I said to him, "You like coming here, Tony." He said, "When I came back to Australia from Bali I worked in a pub to put myself through university, and I have always had an attachment to pubs; I like to get away from the hurly burly. It is good to walk out of the House and have a breather." That was the way Tony expressed himself. That is one of the great memories I have of Tony Doyle. More often than not I took his good advice and made a point of getting out of the House, because one tends to be locked up here.
In recent years a number of members have been taken from us prematurely. In fact, the number that have passed away in the past five or six years is unbelievable. The present Opposition was faced with a similar situation just after taking office in 1988, when one of its number was taken. As the Premier said today, "What if that person's potential had been really reached?" I have often said that a lifetime is not judged by its duration but rather by its donation. In his 41 years Tony made a significant contribution not only to the community he represented but to life generally. It is a great pity he was taken so early, but although his life was not long he made a considerable contribution to the community, to this State and to his fellow human beings.
Mr WHELAN (Ashfield - Minister for Police) [5.14]: It is with great sadness that I speak to this condolence motion to a friend and colleague, Tony Doyle. Tony and I shared a great deal. Indeed, yesterday, 1 May, was the nineteenth anniversary of my election to Parliament, and it would have been 10 years since Tony first walked into this Chamber as the member for Peats. The Parliament Tony entered was not unlike the Parliament today - controlled by a Labor Government and with a Liberal Party-National Party Opposition. Tony was quick to distinguish himself as the representative of the Peats electorate and as a member of the Select Committee upon Small Business, which I had the privilege to chair. His acute mind gave him the ability to cut quickly to the nub of an issue, to tease the subtleties of an argument and to express them in a sophisticated yet succinct manner.
As well as mental agility Tony had a delightful sense of humour - one that he used to ensure that he and those around him enjoyed situations that others may have found a little stressful or tiring. In Opposition Tony excelled in his performances in the Chamber and as a member of the shadow ministry. His longstanding commitment to the environment was reflected in his becoming the shadow minister for planning in 1988. After the 1991 State election Tony revealed his true grit when he went to the Leader of the Opposition and asked for one of the toughest portfolios - corrective services. During the period he was the shadow minister he remained pre-eminent in the portfolio. His intelligence and insight were evident in the corrections policy that was launched earlier this year by the Premier as a tribute to Tony Doyle. That policy is a testament to Tony's perseverance and character. It exemplifies his commitment to justice, social equality and integrity in government. I am sure its implementation will bear further proof of the contribution made by Tony in his public life.
Tragically, Tony died a few days after resigning from Parliament, two days before Christmas and only months away from an historic Labor victory. I do not think anyone here would begrudge Tony the pleasure of the electoral victory for which he fought for so long. It is often said of people who have died that they struggled against their illness. Anyone who knew Tony will know that few have struggled harder. The lightness of being he brought to that struggle - in which he retained his sense of humour and his determination to enjoy life throughout - was truly remarkable. In that way he provided us all with an important message about how life should be lived. Those characteristics made Tony the man he was: a private man, a truly warm man, a fine parliamentarian and colleague who enjoyed his life and helped others find enjoyment in their lives.
Mr HARTCHER (Gosford) [5.16]: Those of us who attended the funeral service for Tony last December will remember the words that Premier Carr put so well that day: although Tony did not achieve his potential as a politician he certainly achieved it as a human being. Tony was a person of great generosity of spirit. He was a person with a deep love for his electorate and a deep care for the aged, but he was a person of genuine personal warmth. I had the good fortune to experience that personal warmth in my electorate on a number of occasions. We were not on the same side of the Chamber, but we represented neighbouring central coast electorates and we worked together for the benefit of that region. I recall Tony's courage and I recall the way he happily worked with me for the benefit of the central coast.
I recall our last conversation, just two months before he died. He wanted traffic lights to be installed at the intersection of the Pacific Highway and Woy Woy Road, and he was worried that money would be taken from that project and put into the Gosford railway bridge program. He asked me for my assistance, which I was glad to give. When the lights were installed he telephoned me and said, "How about you and I go up there and turn on the lights together?" We went and we turned on the lights and posed for the camera. He had never discussed his illness with me, but suddenly on that occasion he said, "You know, I have not been very well lately." I said, "I didn't know. Are you better now?" He said, "I don't know, but I just have to manage things from day to day." That was the only comment he ever made to me about his illness. As has been said today, he faced the last 18 months of his illness with extraordinary and stoic courage.
Tony Doyle never complained. He continued to carry out his responsibilities to his electorate, he continued to do everything he could to the best of his ability, he continued to represent his people and he continued to fight for them up until his very last days. Tony's generosity of spirit extended throughout his electorate. It was evident in the way that he treated people from all political persuasions, and it was especially marked by the way that he treated the elderly. The famous barbecues that the Premier referred to today will continue. Frank Walker has sponsored the first such barbecue, called the Tony Doyle memorial barbecue. It is a lunch that is open to all the elderly on the Woy Woy peninsula; indeed, people come from all over the central coast. It has become famous and it will rightly be a tribute to Tony. As I said, Tony's generosity of spirit extended even to a new member of Parliament such as me.
When I was first elected, the National Heart Foundation decided to sponsor a swimathon and asked Tony and me to participate; people would pay money for each lap that we swam. Unknown to Tony or me, the foundation then decided to publicise the swimathon as a great challenge - Liberal versus Labor, Hartcher versus Doyle. I was not a particularly good swimmer and, anxious that I not shame myself or my party, I embarked upon heavy training. Tony said nothing to me. On the great day, I arrived and everyone I thought would be there was there. But there was no Tony. I did my 50 laps and came out of the pool absolutely exhausted. It was the greatest challenge of my life. I hasten to add that it was only a 25-metre pool. Afterwards I received a phone call from Tony. He said that I did very well, and I said yes, that I was pretty pleased. I then asked him how many laps he did and he said, "75 laps". When I asked him why he was not there, he said that swimming was his game, that he suffered from asthma and did a lot of swimming, and that he did not want it to be a challenge between him and me - a challenge out of which I would have come off second best.
That is the sort of person that Tony was. He was quiet and unobtrusive and did not like publicity. I will always remember his generosity of spirit and always honour his memory. Tony had close friends on the central coast. Kay Ryan was an especially close and devoted friend. I pay a special tribute to Tony's parents, Mr and Mrs Doyle, who supported him and stood by him, and were always proud of him. Until his death, Tony was faithful to his beliefs, his ideals, the principles that he served all his life, and the people of his electorate. I believe that he will rest in peace.
Ms ALLAN (Blacktown - Minister for the Environment) [5.22]: There are very few moments of sadness when one wins government. Members on this side of the Chamber have obviously enjoyed being in government for the past month or so, but one of the real moments of sadness is that Tony Doyle, the former member for Peats, is not here to be in government with us. Many of my colleagues, especially those who served with Tony for a number of years, are feeling that sadness acutely today. Tony Doyle was one of the more complex people in the Parliament. He was very self-effacing, which is unusual for a politician. I add to that quality all the other qualities that members have attributed to Tony this afternoon. It is obvious that Tony Doyle was a fine human being. In addition to everything that has been said today and everything that was said at the funeral service, I consider Tony Doyle to have been a loyal friend in the Chamber since I was elected to Parliament in 1988.
I met Tony before I came to Parliament but I did not have any close memories of him. But when I was elected he told me that he remembered me from our days together on the Young Labor Council. He remembered me as a very bossy person - and, of course, that is a quality that I have managed to retain. As honourable members have said, Tony was a very hardworking member of Parliament. What was understated at the funeral service and in the debate so far was Tony's real love and affection for the good life. The Minister for Gaming and Racing, and Minister Assisting the Premier on Hunter Development touched on this in his reference to the Sid Marris article in the Australian, which documented some of the activities that Tony Doyle and others used to get up to during their time in Parliament. Undoubtedly, one of Tony's priorities was eating and drinking and enjoying himself, and he sensibly managed to combine that with working hard on behalf of his constituency and, of course, as a shadow minister.
As the Minister for Gaming and Racing said, Tony loved nothing more than going off to the Wentworth Hotel on Thursday night with the boys - and occasionally some of the girls - and having a few drinks after the House rose. He enjoyed going to the Hilton. Indeed, he enjoyed spending weekends at the Hilton and having dinner at the San Francisco Grill. He enjoyed going to some of the nightspots at Kings Cross with members of the lower House and certain members of the upper House. Keith Enderbury and Judith Walker were favourite party companions of Tony Doyle, and they spent many great hours in those places.
I suppose that confirms what the Premier said earlier- - that Tony Doyle had a wonderful sense of humour and mischief. Although he may have been supportive of the previous Speaker, he and I often shared a joke at his expense. He also enjoyed taking the mickey out of the honourable member for Gosford and other colleagues of his from the central coast, and a lot of other people in the Parliament as well. I was devastated by Tony Doyle's death. I will miss the twinkle in Tony's eye, whether across the table at a Cabinet meeting or in the Chamber. That twinkle was invariably there while he was working on behalf of his electorate. He was always aware of what was happening around him, and he approached life with that wonderful sense of humour.
Tony was also complex because, as well as being efficient, humorous and loyal, he was an anxious human being, and he often took the opportunity to
share his anxieties with us. But that did not take away from the other things that he liked to do. Tony also loved to travel, particularly in Asia; he preferred Asia to other parts of the world. He spent much of his life travelling and he was planning further trips. It is sad that he will not have the opportunity to do that. We have heard much about Tony's work on behalf of his electorate, but Tony was also an indulgent uncle and spent a lot of time with his nieces and nephews; he looked after them carefully. I am concerned about the impact that his death has had on his parents and his brother and sister. I feel for Tony's partner, Robert, and the sad loss that he is experiencing. We are all very much aware of the gaping hole that Tony's death has left in this Government. I can assure honourable members - and I can assure Tony, because I am sure that he is aware of what we are saying today - that we will always be thinking of him.
Mr MOSS (Canterbury) [5.28]: Having known Tony Doyle for a number of years, I feel that he would probably be the last person in this Chamber who would want to be eulogised. However, having known Tony as a gentle and humble man and as one of the more popular members of this House, if not the most popular, I feel that it is fitting that we honour his memory today with this condolence motion. I came to know Tony Doyle more than 10 years ago during his by-election campaign in 1985. The by-election was monumental because Peats was a Government-held seat - and a marginal seat, as well. I spent a week in Peats during that campaign. At the time the coalition Opposition threw everything that it had at us but Tony worked hard and managed to retain the seat for Labor, and did so again in 1988 and 1991.
Exactly 12 months after the Peats by-election I also became a member of this Chamber following a by-election. One of the first Government backbench members at that time to phone me and offer assistance during my campaign was Tony Doyle. Tony never forgot a favour and he returned it. If I could sum up Tony Doyle in just one word it would be "courageous". That is a fitting word to describe Tony. We all know he was ill for some time, and despite that he soldiered on. I say he was courageous because he never complained and he never sought any sympathy. If he was distressed - and obviously there were times when he would have been distressed - he certainly never showed it; he remained cheerful at all times. Tony Doyle rates as one of the most courageous people I have ever met.
Tony was a great local member and his work amongst the elderly has been mentioned by a number of honourable members today. The comments made by the priest who officiated at Tony's funeral were apposite. He referred to Tony's interest in children. Tony had a deep concern for two of the most vulnerable groups in society: the elderly and the young. He had a great fondness for children and often spoke about a niece and a nephew. Earlier in this debate the Premier said that we will never know Tony's full capacity. It is a fact that in his role as shadow minister for corrective services he produced an excellent corrective services policy, a policy that the Labor Government will now have the opportunity to implement. I extend my sympathy to Tony's family and to Robert, and hope that they will find some consolation in the fact that his memory will live on not only in their hearts but in the implementation of that corrective services policy. The memory of Tony Doyle will live on in this Parliament. The corrective services policy he produced will be a fitting legacy of his hard work. Tony Doyle will be sadly missed by all members of this House.
Mr HUNTER (Lake Macquarie) [5.32]: I offer my condolences to Tony's family. I had heard of Tony Doyle before I met him. My father, who was my predecessor in the seat of Lake Macquarie and a former father of this House, told me of Tony's great potential, how he had met Tony and worked with him during the campaign for the Peats by-election, which was necessitated by the death of the Hon. Paul Landa. My father told me that Tony had great potential to become a minister in government; he also in my father's eyes had even higher leadership credentials and could have gone further. I first met Tony in about 1989 when he visited the Lake Macquarie electorate with the current Minister for the Environment, Pam Allan. Tony was then shadow minister for planning. During a two-day visit Tony and Pam travelled around with local environmentalists and visited all the foreshore areas in Lake Macquarie that we hoped would be put into a State recreation area. After the visit Tony and Pam gave their full support to the implementation of that policy, which was a major issue in my election campaign of 1991. I certainly appreciate the work Tony did in helping me to be elected to this Parliament in 1991.
I know that Tony struggled through the last term of Parliament and that is when I got to know him very well. There is a third faction in the Labor Party that is called the Wentworth club; several members sneak out of an evening and have a few drinks at the Wentworth Hotel. I took part in those evening visits and got to know Tony very well. Last July Tony, the honourable member for Keira, Colin Markham, and I travelled to China at the invitation of the All China Federation of Trade Unions. We visited coalmines, power stations and a number of other government-run facilities. During that visit it was obvious that Tony was not well but he struggled on in 35 degree heat on the Great Wall. In searing temperatures in Tiananmen Square he still struggled on to fulfil the commitments we had given to the trade union movement in China.
When we returned Tony continued to work during the last session of Parliament. His attendance at the Wentworth club declined somewhat; however I know he worked hard to put forward the corrective services policy. One of Tony's colleagues, the honourable member for East Hills, Pat Rogan, who is not here today as he is attending a Commonwealth Parliamentary Association conference, would also like to record his condolences to Tony's family. As was said earlier, Tony had great potential. That potential
will now not be reached but, as I said, his policy work lives on. Tony's parents, his family, Robert and all of his friends can be assured that Tony was held in very high esteem by honourable members of this Parliament. He certainly will not be forgotten. Today I say farewell to a friend and again I extend my condolences to his family.
Mr SMALL (Murray) [5.35]: I join with my colleagues in this House in extending sympathy to the parents, family members and loved ones of the late Tony Doyle. Tony and I came into this Parliament after the election on 2 February 1985. At that time, having met Tony after we were sworn in, I found that we had a mutual understanding and friendship. Tony became a member of this Parliament consequent upon the passing of Paul Landa and I became a member consequent upon Tim Fischer, the former member for Murray, moving to the Federal seat of Farrer. We had an allegiance and a warm respect for each other, although we were from different parliamentary parties.
During Tony's last 12 months it was sad to see him suffer from his illness. However, he remained in the Parliament. At the time we were both elected, as he was much younger than I was, I expected that he would have been representing the electorate of Peats in this House much longer than I would have been representing the electorate of Murray. It is tragic when a young man, only 41 years of age, passes on and leaves this House. I pay the greatest respect to him for the work that he did in the electorate of Peats for the people he represented. On behalf of my wife, Judy, and myself I offer my condolences to his parents and family.
Mr KNOWLES (Moorebank - Minister for Urban Affairs and Planning, and Minister for Housing) [5.37]: The Australian obituary has been referred to by a number of speakers. It commenced with the simple and accurate headline: "MP fought tirelessly for community". The Leader of the Opposition has already spoken of the cat story. When one reads further one sees that the article states:
(2) That this House extends to the family the deep sympathy of the Members of the Legislative Assembly in the loss sustained.
It was a sight not often seen - a politician so accessible and trusted by his local community. But it was also contradictory because the public figure, Tony Doyle, State member for Peats, was an intensely private, at times shy, man.
I attest that the story about the cat is true, and that is a measure of what Tony Doyle did for his community; to him details were important. Knowing Tony as I did, I realised that it was also important for Tony to maintain his personal space and his privacy, which, in the context of this Parliament, we can all accept. I perceived Tony as a person who regarded this place as not necessarily an end in itself, but as a means to an end: a way of achieving things for his community and the people he represented. The Premier referred to Tony's contribution to policy.
Tony regarded the contesting of ideas as important in making his contribution as a member of Parliament and held the notion that good policy ultimately led to good politics. I think they were his hallmarks and his guiding lights. As the Minister for the Environment said earlier, Tony did not let the Parliament dominate his life, and for that I respect him. He put this place into context. I shall continue to respect his privacy, as he would have wished it. However, I should explain to his family - his mother, father, brother and sister - and to Robert that I was unable to attend Tony's funeral as I was interstate and simply could not get back. I am truly sorry for that. I extend my deepest condolences to them. We will all miss him.
Mr McBRIDE (The Entrance) [5.40]: I first came into contact with Tony in 1990 when I became a candidate for the electorate of The Entrance. He was incredibly helpful and sincere in his attempts to assist me. He gave me advice, assistance, practical help, generous support and, most of all, friendship. Tony was blessed with a sharp sense of humour and a very wicked wit, which I believe he always tempered with good humour and without rancour. His standing on the central coast as a politician is without peer. He knew his job and he did it well. He loved his job as a local member of Parliament, and he did it without equal.
Tony Doyle's reputation as a genuine, sincere, local member remains with us. Tony was the peninsula: the peninsula was Tony. His commitment to his duties during his illness was moving. He knew how sick he was, I knew how sick he was, but he never once acknowledged his suffering or sought sympathy. Tony's courage in such circumstances stands as an everlasting monument to his strength of character and unconquered spirit. I say to his family, his relatives and his friends that Tony's spirit will always remain in my heart.
Mr AMERY (Mount Druitt - Minister for Agriculture) [5.41]: I join with other honourable members in expressing my condolences to Tony Doyle's family, his mate Robert and all those who knew him. I think back to 1988 when the coalition Government was elected and we were thrown into Opposition. Without giving too much away, I recall a faction meeting when all but one of the former Labor Government Ministers were elected to the shadow ministry. At that meeting about four backbench members - including Tony Doyle, Brian Langton and me - were elected to the shadow ministry.
I would like to pick up on some of the comments made about Tony Doyle as an effective shadow minister, the professional side of his life in this place. One thing that Bob Carr did as Labor leader in 1988 and 1989 was to prepare Labor Party members for government. The shadow ministry attended seminars and lectures from senior public servants, media people and others around the State. Bob Carr would often draw the attention of the shadow ministry to examples of shadow ministers who had performed well in their
roles in the media or in the Parliament. On every occasion one example was how Tony Doyle had performed.
I recall Tony at Lady Macquarie's Chair talking about the Greiner Government's sell off of the coast around Sydney Harbour. More recently I recall the classic one-liner that Tony, in his role as shadow minister, had probably borrowed: John Fahey is running a walk-in, walk-out gaol system. Labor leader Bob Carr used Tony Doyle's expertise in getting the Opposition message across as an example to the rest of Tony's colleagues in the shadow ministry of how best to perform with the media. Tony Doyle was an effective local member who had all of the attributes that have been mentioned; he was also articulate and performed extremely well in the Opposition. When we were at Government House posing for that very sunny traditional Cabinet photograph - quite a few of us were squinting in the sun - a couple of us said that fate had dealt Tony Doyle a sad blow and robbed him of his place in the sun on that occasion.
I should make a brief reference to policy issues. I followed Tony Doyle as shadow minister for senior citizens. His work in that area made my job very easy. For the 1991 election he composed a policy entitled "Care, Rights and Respect for Senior Citizens". The policy contained many areas of reform promised by members of the then Labor Opposition, three of which are worthy of note. He gave a commitment that a future Labor government would introduce age discrimination laws, a Seniors Card and, to elevate the status of seniors politics, create the position of Minister for the Ageing or Minister for Seniors. Probably unintentionally, the successive Greiner and Fahey governments paid him tribute by introducing policies that were part of the 1991 Labor election policy document. That emphasises that he not only was an articulate spokesman and a successful media performer, but was effective in the difficult area of policy formulation. He certainly contributed to the Labor win a few weeks ago.
I agree with everything that has been said about him: he was easy to get along with, easy to talk to and had a great sense of humour. Not too many of us will forget the way he was able to mimic Ministers and media figures. His comments and interjections on David Hay, a former Minister for Planning, gave us all a bit of a laugh during some parts of question time, with respect to the then Speaker. I was not aware of the Wentworth faction that members have spoken about - we seem to be getting more factions than we can handle - but often in the late hours of the night we would turn up at Bob Martin's room, or "Martinios", for espresso coffee. Tony Doyle would always come back and we would have a yarn and a laugh.
Tony was never a vindictive person. He never seriously insulted any of his colleagues on either side of the House. Tony was very much a part of the 1995 great Labor victory. We will all deeply miss him. I am sure that if the former member for Liverpool, Peter Anderson, were here today he would also express his thoughts about his special friendship with Tony Doyle. Though the trappings of office may keep us all busy, when we look back on those times in Opposition, the late nights at "Martinios" with the sing-a-longs, it will be with fond memories of times that we all shared with Tony Doyle.
Mrs CHIKAROVSKI (Lane Cove) [5.48]: It is with great sadness that I speak in this debate. I speak not as a political colleague of Tony, but rather as a friend of the Doyle family. I have known the Doyle family for more than 20 years and have spent many a summer holiday on the beach at Avoca with Ken and Coralie. However, I did not get to know Tony until I became a member of this House. For some reason he did not share a great number of those holidays with us. But when I became a member of the Legislative Assembly Tony sought me out and came to speak to me. He said, "It is an interesting place, this Parliament. Understand that you are going to get to know a few people and you are going to make friends on both sides". He was right.
He offered his friendship to me and offered to give me help in any way should I need it, and for that I was very grateful. Most of our conversations tended to be about family and friends. We were always exchanging gossip. I doubt that we agreed on many matters of policy. The funniest conversations we had were about our families. At least I knew that my mother and father agreed with a lot of my politics. I do not know that Ken and Coralie always agreed with Tony's politics. But in all things Ken and Coralie were extremely proud of Tony. They were absolutely supportive of what he did.
As other members have said today, Tony displayed enormous ability in this House and he had great potential. He was respected by both sides of politics. However, we did not always agree with him, and it would be foolish of me to say that we did. But we all agree on one thing: Tony showed great commitment to his electorate. I am unable to comment on that from personal experience, except to say that on the one occasion when I was in his electorate he was warmly received by his constituents and he warmly welcomed me. Other members have spoken about the respect Tony had for his electorate and the people with whom he worked. I can say sincerely and absolutely that Tony had the same respect for his family. He was very proud of his parents and his family; he was deeply concerned about their welfare. I know that Ken and Coralie showed Tony the sort of respect that we would all like to have from our parents. I assure Ken and Coralie that Tony had the same respect for them. Vale Tony.
Mr MARTIN (Port Stephens - Minister for Mineral Resources, and Minister for Fisheries) [5.51]: It is a sad day when the New South Wales Parliament has a condolence motion for a good friend and colleague. I extend the sincere sympathy of the people of my electorate to the Doyle family. Tony Doyle was a mate. He sat on the corner of the Opposition frontbench. Tony had a sense of humour - when the going got tough, he always made our lives bearable. Tony was able to make light of the hardest going. My colleagues have mentioned
many of Tony's fine attributes. He followed the philosophies of two great politicians who graced parliaments of this nation. He followed the philosophy that you never complain, you never explain, and you never resign. Tony, to the very end, abided by that philosophy.
My room was next to Tony's room upstairs. We spent a lot of time in each other's company - we enjoyed a little refreshment, a coffee and a talk about the things that make humans tick. Tony was second to none. He also believed in the philosophy of warmth, strength and loyalty. He possessed those three great attributes, and he stuck by that philosophy absolutely. As we all know, Keith O'Connell was the first member for Peats; former Minister Landa was the second; and Tony was the third, following the untimely death of Paul Landa. Tony fought hard for his people. We will always remember Tony as one of the finest people to come through the portals of this House.
Ms ANDREWS (Peats) [5.53]: It is with much sadness that I join my colleagues in speaking to the condolence motion for Tony Doyle. When Tony became the third member to represent the electorate of Peats he faced a challenge. His two predecessors had made an indelible mark on the political scene of the central coast. The first member for Peats, Keith O'Connell, had shown an amazing ability to relate to the aspirations of central coast residents. He gained the support of people from all sides of the political spectrum. The second member for Peats, Paul Landa, made a rapid ascension to the Labor Party's frontbench. He displayed exceptional talent in the brief time he spent in the State Parliament before his untimely death.
It took someone with special abilities to fill Paul's shoes, but Tony did it - and he did it well. As shadow minister for corrective services Tony worked on Labor's policy documents until the very end. He knew that his life would end shortly; he knew that he would not be part of a Labor victory; but he never stopped working towards that victory. Tony is not here to share that victory today, but he is with us in spirit - he is still part of it. Tony will be remembered best, longest, and most fondly for his role as a caring grassroots member. He was a humble and likeable person who never rose above his constituents. I ran into Tony on many an occasion as he came home from parliamentary sittings. We would often meet at Woy Woy station, walk up the ramp together and exchange stories of the different activities in which we had been engaged. Tony was a very approachable person.
How many of us will have celebrations held in our honour after we have gone - gatherings at which those we have represented come together to mourn our passing, to praise our efforts, to rejoice in their good fortune in having known us and in having shared in our lives? That is how Tony is remembered. The Premier, Mr Bob Carr, referred to Tony's annual sausage sizzle. It was one of his better-known activities. It was an event which, like Topsy, just seemed to grow. The senior citizens of Peats looked forward to the annual sausage sizzle. More important, however, was Tony the person; the person behind those barbeques. Tony had a deep commitment to everyone he represented: the battlers, the pensioners and the everyday people into whose lives he always wanted to bring something special.
I believe that it would be appropriate to have a building in the electorate of Peats named in Tony's honour, as a testament to his deep commitment to the electorate. I am sure that we will be able to accomplish that in the near future with the cooperation of my ministerial colleagues. On behalf of the people of Peats I place on the parliamentary record our sincere appreciation and gratitude to Tony Doyle. I convey our deepest sympathy to his parents and family. It has been an honour to succeed someone as caring and committed as Tony. If before I leave this House I can earn the depth of warmth and respect from my constituents that Tony enjoyed, I will know that I have served them well.
Members and officers of the House standing in their places -
Motion agreed to.
His colleagues at State Parliament saw him as affable, direct and intelligent, but even those who regarded themselves as close friends confessed to know little of the man.