House debates

Tuesday, 21 August 2018

Constituency Statements

Griffiths, Mr Bill

4:35 pm

Photo of Brian MitchellBrian Mitchell (Lyons, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

None of us gets to this place alone. We arrive here only with the support of dedicated volunteers and party members—people who spend time on the phones, at the booths and on the doors. Bill Griffiths is one of those people. He's a dedicated member of the Labor Party and, more importantly, continues to be an active member of the Bridgewater community in my electorate. Bill recently celebrated his 90th birthday, and I had the great privilege of hosting a morning tea in my office to celebrate the occasion.

When you spend a few minutes with Bill, it can easily turn into half an hour or more. His life story is remarkable. Born in Liverpool in England, Bill experienced a rough childhood. Like so many working-class families in the industrial northern English cities of 1928, Bill's family suffered from the twin evils of extreme poverty and alcohol related violence. His twin sister was sold when she was two, and, at the age of eight, on the eve of World War II, Bill was kicked out into the streets with only his dog as company. Young Bill visited orphanages and convents for food and to wash, and he lived on the streets until he was old enough to enlist. He started an apprenticeship as a piano and organ repairer and says he did well at it, but one day he was a bit mouthy with a customer and was fired.

After the war ended, Bill, barely out of his teens, arrived in Australia and it was a new world of opportunity opening before his eyes. For years Bill worked in Tasmania's mining sector. Bill has spent the majority of his life, so far, in Tasmania, but he was able to reconnect with his twin sister some years ago. She had stayed in Liverpool all these years with her new family. He also met his older brother, who lives in the US. Both are gone now, and Bill treasures the short time they were able to spend with each other.

Bill settled in Bridgewater, then a new suburb north of Hobart, where he started his own family. His adult children have since spread across the state, but Bill has stayed put in Bridgewater, where he remains an active and well-loved member of the local community. Bill's commitment to helping people is unmatched. He is heavily involved in local schools, where he conducts woodworking workshops and is an advocate for Tasmania's Indigenous people. He is a regular visitor to my Bridgewater office, where we enjoy a cup of tea and lots of talk. He is enormously respected, and, despite the hardships that life threw at him in his early years, he is always cheerful, always positive and always willing to lend a hand. So I say to Bill: thank you for the services you have provided to the Labor Party over your lifetime to date, and, especially, for your ongoing dedication to community. Many happy returns, Bill.