SHIRLEY PROVERA TRIBUTE
The Hon. MARIE FICARRA [5.26 p.m.]: Today I am honoured to pay tribute to the extraordinary life of a wonderful lady, the late Shirley Anne Provera. Shirley was born in Sydney on 28 September 1935 to Alice and Herbert Griffiths and was the oldest of four children. I acknowledge and welcome Shirley's sister Pauline in the gallery. The family lived in the Strathfield municipality and her father, Herbert, worked diligently as a council labourer to support his family. Shirley's great grandparents, the Whalebones, were free settlers from England and Ireland. In Australia, Richard Whalebone became one of the founding fathers of the western plains wool industry based in Wellington, New South Wales.
Shirley often talked about the love of her life, her husband Peter "Pierino" Provera, whom she met at a party when she was 18 and married one year later after being romanced intensely and successfully. Peter and his family were migrants from Casale in Piedmont, Italy arriving in Australia in 1937. The Provera family settled in Queensland as cane farmers based in Ingham, where many still remain to this day. Peter Provera was proud to have had the chance to work with American Air Force engineers building the Townsville airport as part of our national defence base for the Battle of the Coral Sea during World War II. Married in April 1955 with a grand reception held at the then very chic Australia Hotel, Shirley and Peter charmed the two family cultures, Aussie and Italo, over the many years of her happy and colourful married life. Two beautiful children followed, Leyanne Salvina and Peter Deone Felice, known as Leyanne and Deone. Shirley was filled with joy and pride.
Being a gifted student with a passion for Latin, Shirley gained a place at the selective Fort Street High. We remember her beauty and it comes as no surprise that Shirley was a finalist in the Miss New South Wales quest at the age of 17, but was forced to withdraw due to ill health. Shirley always sparkled when talking about the time she ran her own fashion outlet Xanadu at Wynyard. Shirley and Peter moved successfully from operating the Miller Hotel in Fairfield to the retailing world of fruit and vegetables, and then onto the fashion arena with Shirley operating other boutiques in Auburn, Burwood and Bexley. Having a strong sense of community service and encouragement of effort, Shirley become involved with Quota and other organisations assisting women to establish themselves in business. The best was yet to come, as eagerly recalled by daughter Leyanne, Shirley always considered the years spent in the New South Wales Liberal Party from the late 1980s as the best years of her life.
I want to acknowledge the incredible reciprocal respect and devotion shown to Shirley by the many friends and admirers she had in the New South Wales Liberal Women's Council and indeed the New South Wales Division. I especially mention Mary-Lou Jarvis and Teena McQueen—Shirley once described them as the Thelma and Louise team from women's council executive—and I acknowledge their presence in the gallery this evening. Nurtured and encouraged by Shirley as president of the Rose Bay branch, the two forged a strong and supportive friendship with Shirley. They were fearless during the electoral campaigns of Malcolm Turnbull and Peter Debnam, their local members.
Women such as Shirley have been and will always be the backbone of the Liberal Party. Indeed, Shirley gave so much support and encouragement to so many within the party and her community, where she felt they were capable of giving more of themselves, just as she did, to make this country a better place to live. Shirley was fiercely Australian. She valued free enterprise and believed in meritocracy. An intelligent, kind and generous, astute and intuitive, diplomatic lady of style, wit and charm, Shirley will always be remembered by her famous greeting "Hello, darling" as she would open her home, her heart and herself to all around her.
I especially remember Shirley's grandchildren—her treasures in life—Brooklyn, Benjamin, Joshua, Sarah, Sienna and Jared. She loved them, lived for them and talked about them incessantly. Shirley battled cancer courageously for so many years but she died peacefully having had the chance to visit with Leyanne and her beautiful grandchildren in England. Shirley was taken from us on 26 September, just two days before her seventy-third birthday. Heaven has warmly welcomed Shirley Provera and we know that she is assisting Saint Peter and his angels in getting the job done well. We salute the wonderful life of Shirley Anne Provera.