Wednesday, 1 September 2021
Gallacher, Senator Alexander McEachian (Alex)
[by video link] I rise to express my condolences on the passing of Senator Alex Gallacher. We all know that Alex had been unwell, but that didn't make the shock of his passing any easier to take. Many others who knew him better than me have said and will say many great things about Alex, all well-deserved and, I'm sure, better expressed than I could do.
For me, what I always appreciated about Alex was that he was a straight shooter. He always told it like it was. Importantly, he was also happy to share the benefits of his experience, to provide wise counsel and to provide guidance to us newer MPs. I always valued that about Alex, and I'm sure I'm not the only one.
Alex didn't feel the need to contribute on every issue and debate, but when he did you listened. His was always a considered contribution. That doesn't mean I agreed with Alex on every point, but I appreciated the way in which he always articulated a well-formed argument. His arguments came with passion, too—a real, heartfelt expression of how things really are and how policies would affect workers.
Alex dedicated his life to the interests of working people both as a trade unionist and as a senator. Politics didn't change him. He was no-nonsense and plain speaking. He wasn't going to let his illness stop him either. He was sitting in the parliament as recently as June. A little thing called cancer wasn't going to get in his way. Alex was a champion of common sense and fairness, and had one of sharpest minds in the parliament. He was, as many have said, a great bloke.
I can't speak about Alex without also speaking about my friend Senator Glenn Sterle, who was such a close mate of Alex's. They were two peas in a pod—or, as many of us thought of them, the Statler and Waldorf of our caucus, not just in demeanour but also in the physical location they took in the room! I must also acknowledge that I know Alex's passing is particularly hard on Senator Sterle. Both were truck drivers before working for the TWU and then becoming senators. They were also flatmates in Canberra.
The caucus, the TWU, the union movement, the Labor Party and, of course, Alex's family are all grieving his loss. Australian workers, especially truckies, and all road users are better off for Alex Gallacher's advocacy and dogged commitment. We lost Alex far too soon. Alex was also a family man who was dedicated to his wife, Paola, his children and his grandchildren. I express my condolences to his family and to his friends. Vale Senator Gallacher. May he rest in peace.