Death Of Paolo Panella
Mr GAUDRY (Newcastle—Parliamentary Secretary) [6.13 p.m.]: Today it was my honour to deliver the eulogy at the funeral service held at the Sacred Heart Cathedral in Hamilton for Paolo (Paul) Panella, to celebrate and remember the life of this outstanding man. Paul was a passionate man who was well respected in the Newcastle community. He was a funny man, with a loving and caring personality. He was a giver and not a taker, a man who reflected the experience of many migrant people who have come to this country. Paul came to Australia in 1967 from Villa Valla Longa in Italy as a 19-year-old married man. For the first 10 years Paul worked as a rigger for EPT, along with many of his compatriots. During that period he was an outstanding worker for that company. Unfortunately, at the end of that period Paul had a serious accident which forced him out of that work force. He invested his money in a restaurant in Newcastle, Arrividerci's at The Junction, which became a watchword for late-night eating in the Newcastle area, an absolute family restaurant. The years that Paul was in Arrividerci's transformed late-night eating in Newcastle. It was a place one could go to where there was always lots of fun; a feeling of being at home. Whether it was hockey teams or football teams, or just people out for a good time, they could find that at Paul's Arrividerci's restaurant.
I noted the attendance at the funeral service today of Bib Price, the wife of the honourable member for Maitland. I first met Bib at Arrividerci's restaurant, as I did many other people in the Newcastle area. Paul then moved to Hamilton and took over the Little Swallows restaurant. It was there that he once again brought to Beaumont Street a tremendous sense of community. I remember Paul in front of his gas burners with his fine cooking skills. I also remember that every morning retired members of the Italian working community would meet at Paul's restaurant to discuss politics and have their coffee. Paul would preside, mostly just to serve the coffee, but at times in his strong and forceful way to put forward his own point of view.
I pay tribute to the impact of Paul Panella, not only in terms of the restaurant trade in Newcastle but also in bridging the two communities. In fact, today's service was conducted by Father Francesco of the Scalabrini Centre in both English and Italian. Paul moved between those two communities with great ease. He would hold a discussion in Italian with the Italian men's club, as they were called, and at the same time converse with someone else in English. He was a wonderful man. Indicative of that was the fact that Paul asked that there be no flowers at the funeral today but that donations be sent to the palliative care centre. His son Angelo clearly expressed the respect he held for his father.
On behalf of the Newcastle community I extend my condolences to Paul's wife, Filomena; to Frank, Dino, Angelo, Kirsten and Lauren; and particularly to Lefta, who in the last two years gave great love to Paul in the period when his illness made life more and more difficult for him. It was good to see that Paul’s sisters, Columba, Gessida and Agnese, were able to attend the funeral in honour of their brother. Paul Panella made a significant contribution to our community, in the love he showed for people, the ease with which he mixed, and the contribution he made to both the Italian and English-speaking communities of Newcastle. We honour his name today.
Mr FACE (Charlestown—Minister for Gaming and Racing, and Minister Assisting the Premier on Hunter Development) [6.18 p.m.]: It is true to say that one of Newcastle's great people passed away this week, culminating in a service being held for him at Hamilton Sacred Heart Catholic Cathedral this morning. Paul, as he was known to everyone, arrived in Newcastle from Italy in 1967. He, like so many people who arrived from Italy, worked as a rigger, before buying into Arrivederci at The Junction in what was then my electorate, in 1979. He was a successful restaurateur and became quite an identity in The Junction when it was merging into what is now a very trendy suburb. This flamboyant cook then went on to buy the Little Swallows in Beaumont Street, Hamilton. Of course, that is where he really became an identity as one of the great catalysts of the Beaumont community, which is the Lygon Street of Newcastle. He operated a restaurant until last year, when he retired and passed over the reins to his son, Angelo.
Paul was diagnosed with cancer in 1992. He accepted his long battle with illness with great dignity. His son, Angelo, describes his father as a warm and outgoing man who believed that everyone deserves an opportunity. Angelo says that everyone loved Paul, and that is true. He was a warm and friendly person who was certainly very popular. One of his great attributes was that he always gave people an opportunity. The remarks made by the honourable member for Newcastle about Bib Price, when she lost her first husband, Doug, reflect the type of person Paul was. Paul took meals to Bib, who lived opposite, in her time of grief. That is the type of person he was. I met him through the Highfield-Azzuri Soccer Club and a recreation club that I was involved in establishing many years ago. Paul was a prominent identity in its establishment but he also put his hand in his pocket, so to speak, along with many other members. Paul was certainly a great person. I extend my heartfelt sympathy to Lefta, to Paul's sons Angelo, Frank and Dino, and to his grandchildren, Lauren and Jayden. [Time expired.]