House debates

Wednesday, 1 September 2021


Gallacher, Senator Alexander McEachian (Alex)

7:09 pm

Photo of Rob MitchellRob Mitchell (McEwen, Australian Labor Party) Share this | Hansard source

[by video link] Tonight's is one of those speeches you make that you don't want to make. We often rise in this place to talk about bills and motions and other things, but tonight we're talking about a mate. When I think about Alex, the only words I can say about him are that he was a mate, a good bloke, straight down the line, honest, as honest as the day is long and genuine. There aren't many people that you meet in this game of politics that you can say that about. I say that because, from the first time I met him at a pizza shop in Canberra on the first night I came here to the very end, wherever you were with Alex, he stopped, he spoke, he was your mate. As Matt Keogh, the member for Burt, pointed out earlier, we used to lovingly call him and Sterlie 'Statler and Waldorf', sitting in the caucus room and always putting in their two bob's worth. But you'd know that every time they put in their two bob, you got 10 bucks worth because it was always genuine gold that they'd give you.

I don't know what I could say that's going to change the pain or the feelings of his family. We think about what we've lost, but that's nothing compared to what they've lost. They've lost someone who was a husband, a father, a grandfather a brother, a cousin. We've lost a friend and a colleague. We look back and we think about what Alex did with his life: coming out here from Scotland, working as a rampie and driving a truck, being involved in the union. His whole story tells you about the genuineness of the person and what he believed in. It's very difficult to find words when you talk about someone like Alex on an occasion like this, which made me think about Linda Ellis's poem called The Dash. The closing lines say:

So when your eulogy is being read, with your life's actions to rehash, would you be proud of the things they say about how you lived your dash?

It's about the dash between the date of birth and the date of death. I really want to say to Alex's family, you can be very proud of the dash that Alex had. There are not many people who can go through life and just be a genuine, honest, decent person of moral values and integrity. He did that in spades.

As the member for Flynn said earlier, there was not a bad word you could say about Alex. If you did, you'd be wrong and you'd have a queue a mile long of people that would get up behind you to say, 'That's just not right,' because he was a remarkable person to know, to call a friend, to have a beer with, to have a chat with and to get an opinion from. But it wouldn't be fair to say goodbye to a Scottish person without a few words from Rabbie Burns. Rabbie Burns wrote a poem called Epitaph on my own Friend:

An honest man here lies at rest,

As e'er God with His image blest:

The friend of man, the friend of truth;

The friend of age, and guide of youth:

Few hearts like his, with virtue warm'd,

Few heads with knowledge so inform'd:

If there's another world, he lives in bliss;

If there is none, he made the best of this.

I think that poem sums up Alex perfectly. So vale, Alex. Thank you for giving me the privilege of being your friend. And to Sterlie, I can't wait to see you, mate, all the best. Thank you.


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