House debates

Thursday, 18 October 2018

Statements on Indulgence

Collings, Mrs Esther and Mr Ronald

2:00 pm

Photo of Scott MorrisonScott Morrison (Cook, Liberal Party, Prime Minister) Share this | | Hansard source

on indulgence—I do wish to inform the House about a wonderful anniversary that is taking place tomorrow—and it is a very unique one. It doesn't happen often in this country. 103-year-old Ron Collings and 102-year-old Esther Collings from Goolwa, South Australia are celebrating their 80th wedding anniversary tomorrow. Let that sink in—80 years. This doesn't happen very often. Those who organised the congratulatory messages, as the Leader of the Opposition would know, say there have only been a handful of such anniversaries in the history of the country. So it is, I think, a very special moment for Australia. When Mr and Mrs Collings got married, Joe Lyons was the Prime Minister and John Curtin was the opposition leader. So they've seen a few since then.

Opposition Members:

Opposition members interjecting

Photo of Scott MorrisonScott Morrison (Cook, Liberal Party, Prime Minister) Share this | | Hansard source

And they saw a few on your side too, I can tell you! They saw quite a few on your side too! They've been watching this for a long time, so nothing's new to them. There's nothing new under the sun.

But, to the serious nature of what I'm talking about today: Ron and Esther met each other at the Ozone Enfield picture theatre when Ron was selling sweets. There must have been something wonderful in the water at Goolwa, because Ron kept his driver's licence until he was 100 years of age. Esther says the secret to a successful marriage is giving each other space to pursue your own interests, and it's about compromise as well. When asked what the anniversary means, Ron said, 'It means we've been married a very long time.'

I've been married for 28 years. We celebrate birthdays every year just by living another year, but to celebrate an anniversary you've got to work at it. You've got to work at it to make marriages work. And we're all very grateful to our partners and our wives and husbands outside of this place who enable us to do this. But in Mr and Mrs Collings we have an inspiration to every married couple in this country.

And so, on behalf of the government and the country, I want them to have a very happy anniversary tomorrow. I know the member for Mayo is attending the celebration. I am sure she will convey the joy of this parliament. May God bless you both and may you have many more years of good health, love and happiness.

2:03 pm

Photo of Bill ShortenBill Shorten (Maribyrnong, Australian Labor Party, Leader of the Opposition) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank the Prime Minister for that very generous motion. All of us, as members of parliament, have the privilege of congratulating our senior constituents on their well-earned milestones. It is pleasant, actually, to take a moment to congratulate Ron and Esther Collings, two of Australia's more than 4,200 centenarians, as they celebrate the rare and remarkable feat of achieving their 80th wedding anniversary tomorrow. It means that they're now about two years or so away from the current Australian record.

As honourable members would know, traditionally anniversary gifts begin with paper for one year. They work their way up: silver for 25, ruby for 40, gold for 50, and so on. Apparently the traditional gift for the 80th anniversary is oak. Now, looking online, a lot of places recommend an oak photo frame, symbolising endurance and longevity. But, fair warning: nothing stands still. There is a new movement out there to change the 80th anniversary gift to 'a combination of diamonds and pearls'. Ron, if you're listening to this or watching this, I'm confident that Esther will be perfectly happy with a nice frame!

In your long lives together, I'm sure you've had thousands of sparkling diamonds of happiness and countless pearls of joy and laughter. Congratulations from all of us. Enjoy your afternoon tea tomorrow. Best wishes to you and all your family for the time ahead.

2:05 pm

Photo of Rebekha SharkieRebekha Sharkie (Mayo, Centre Alliance) Share this | | Hansard source

Mr Speaker, thank you for allowing me to speak on indulgence on this very special moment. Like every member here, I have the great pleasure in writing congratulatory letters for 50th and 60th wedding anniversaries, and last year couple Jack and Fay Miller from Victor Harbor celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary. However, an 80th wedding anniversary is extremely special, and I'm looking forward to visiting Ron and Esther Collings from Goolwa tomorrow. Prime Minister, I very much look forward to taking with me the best wishes of the parliament for that special milestone.

After meeting at the picture theatre, they married in 1938 at just 23 and 22 years of age respectively. The Depression was still being felt by many Australian communities. Esther was a dressmaker, and Ron a travelling salesman. Now Mr and Mrs Collings are Australia's oldest living married couple, and may I add that they are happily married. They've been blessed with three children, six grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.

What always strikes me when I talk to couples who have been together for decades and weathered the storms of life together is: what is your secret to making such a successful relationship? I'm told it's compromise and communication. Mr Collings loves his footy—regrettably, he loves the Sydney Swans and not the Adelaide Crows—while Mrs Collings prefers yoga. Both have given each other the space and time to support each other's own pursuits. I think they're a good example for all of us here in the parliament, and I know all of Mayo is very proud of them. So I congratulate Ron and Esther Collings on reaching their 80th wedding anniversary, and I look forward to sharing in their wonderful celebration tomorrow.