Mr HUSIC (Chifley—Government Whip) (10:07): This morning I would like to pay tribute to a stalwart of the Australian Labor Party in my neck of the woods and a valued member of one of our local branches, the Marayong South branch, who recently passed away. Bill Henry was not just devoted to the ALP; he was a devoted family man and a devoted community member. His family recall that during his long working life he would work two and sometimes more jobs to help provide for his family. Bill was the product of Scottish stock, something he was very proud of, and he was born at the onset of the Great Depression, both of which help explain his strong work ethic. Bill spent a great many hours giving of his time to various committees, to the union movement, to the ALP and to first aid courses.
Despite his extraordinary contribution to the community, his family were never robbed of his time. He was a devoted husband to his wife, Patricia, and they had never had a night apart for nearly 61 years. He was always available for family christenings and confirmations and attending school plays and football games. Sport was also a big part of Bill’s life. In his younger days he was a fine Rugby League player and, growing up in the eastern suburbs of Sydney, was unsurprisingly a passionate supporter of the Roosters. He was a surf lifesaver at Bronte Beach and spent many hours as he was growing up in and around the water. He excelled at cricket and tennis and he managed and coached his kids’ football teams.
His children recall a father who was brave and kept them safe. When they were out swimming with him they did so knowing that they were safe if they ever got into any difficulty. Although he was never one to boast and was humble, Bill put aside his own safety a number of times to save the lives of others. In 1961, for example, he saved his neighbours from a house fire in Paddington and in the late sixties his family recall him showing great courage and suffering severe burns helping evacuate others from a devastating fire at his workplace. Another time he helped save a woman trapped beneath a train on his way home from work. Unfortunately, I was unable to get to Bill’s funeral, as parliament was sitting on that day. But I did think of him. Bill and I knew each other for years. He was, I remember, always there with a smile and an ear. He never spoke ill of others, as was reflected on the day of his funeral. He was generous with his time and with his support, and I will miss him. It has also been a difficult time for the Marayong South Branch, with the news in the last 24 hours of another long-term member, Don Yali. I pass my condolences on to his wife, Myrna. His funeral will be held this weekend.