House debates

Thursday, 30 October 2014



10:36 am

Photo of Craig LaundyCraig Laundy (Reid, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

If you are in any way interested in horseracing—and let's face it, next week there are not many of us who are not—you would know the Callander name. The Callander family have been involved in horseracing in this country for a long time, predominantly through the pioneering work of Ken Callander, and of late his son Richard has followed him into the TVN TV arena. The Callander family and my family go back a long way and Richard lives in my electorate.

Four or five years ago he was on a panel on TVN, and he got an email from a New Zealand viewer when the soccer World Cup was on asking his opinion of whether New Zealand could draw or beat Italy. Richie, being Richie, said that if they beat Italy he would retire from TV for good and if they drew he would walk between the four racetracks in Sydney—Warwick Farm, Rosehill, Canterbury and Randwick. Lo and behold, New Zealand drew with Italy. Richie, being Richie—he not only has a big heart, but a big girth to go with it, so you do not understand what a challenge this would be, 57 kilometres on the odometer—set about honouring his word. But he took it one step further: he started a charity. With the help of his amazing wife Kaye, his two beautiful daughters Brooke and Jess and some other close mates, he formed 4Tracks4Kids.

Later that year he commenced his first walk—and he made it. I did not think he would, but he made it. He got the help of TVN, Toyota, the Australian Turf Club and some high-profile personalities. I have now done this with Richard and the team three or four times and my father has very kindly donated to all these wonderful causes. He had people of the ilk of Daniel Geale, the world middleweight boxing champion—who obviously walked the 57 kilometres a lot easier than Richie and myself—and Johnny Ruffo, who would be known to a lot of our younger female members of parliament and to my daughters especially as a famous Home and Away actor, a singer, you name it, a lovely, lovely guy. And a heap of jockeys and trainers put their shoulders to the wheel.

So far, in the years that he has done it, he has raised $3 million—and the best thing about this charity is that every cent goes to the front line. Through the hard work of Kaye, his daughters, Richie and his board nothing goes to administration costs. The money goes predominantly to the children's hospital networks throughout New South Wales.

This year it will be particularly important and, with next week fast approaching—obviously a big week of horseracing—the walk has been renamed 'A Walk for Nathan', in honour of Nathan Berry. Nathan Berry tragically died in April. He got married in February and two months later, while he was jockeying in Singapore, died of Norse syndrome, a very rare form of epilepsy. In fact, he is the first ever to die from it in this country. He leaves behind his beautiful wife of two months, Whitney, as well as his twin brother, Tommy, who is also a jockey and was also walking for us on this day.

We raised $500,000 on the day. Richard had it well organised: the ATC gave us the finishing straight at Randwick racecourse and we walked down it in between races and did a big cheque presentation. We did some media and then, when we thought we had the 57 kilometres nailed, we turned around and walked up this never-ending hill, because the children's hospital is at the top of the racecourse, beyond the back straight. What you do not need after stopping at the end of 57 kilometres is to restart and walk another kilometre up a hill, but we did it. The people at Darley opened up their doors afterwards for a big barbecue, all at their cost. It was well and truly a great place to be to have a beer with a lot of other wonderful personalities.

To Tommy Berry, a special mention. Next Saturday is obviously Derby Day. It will be a very emotional week: last year he and his brother were both riding in the big races of the week but this week he will do it alone. I know we have seen some amazing scenes in racing—cast your mind back to Damien Oliver crossing the line and winning the Melbourne Cup a few weeks after his brother had been killed—and this will be another one of those occasions.

I would like to pass on my best wishes to Whitney, his beautiful wife; I hope that this week holds many fond memories for you. To Tommy: I wish you good luck. To Richard, Kaye, Brooke and Jess and to all involved with 4 Tracks 4 Kids: it is a wonderful initiative; long may it last and long may you raise truckloads of dollars. If anyone is interested in the story of Nathan Berry, I know that Tara Brown is doing a story on it this Sunday night on 60 Minutes.