House debates

Wednesday, 11 November 2020

Constituency Statements

Robertson, Mr Bruce, OAM

5:25 pm

Photo of Jason FalinskiJason Falinski (Mackellar, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Thank you to the member for Calwell. I join her in wishing the Indian community a happy Diwali as well.

Growing up on the northern beaches, I've witnessed the formidable work of our surf lifesaving clubs. Their volunteers form an integral part of the Mackellar constituency—

Photo of Matt ThistlethwaiteMatt Thistlethwaite (Kingsford Smith, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Assistant Minister for Financial Services) Share this | | Hansard source

Hear hear!

Photo of Jason FalinskiJason Falinski (Mackellar, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

and also the constituency of Kingsford Smith—and their mission to save lives, create great Australians and build better communities could not be more fitting. Bruce Robertson, Australia oldest surf lifesaver, hung up his cap this year at the age of 87. He has served my electorate for almost eight decades through his work with the Mona Vale and Bilgola surf clubs. Bruce has tirelessly devoted himself to helping the community, and a few minutes of conversation with him are enough to determine that his dedication and charisma make him an outstanding role model for our younger lifesavers.

Wider Australian society has also benefited from Bruce's hard work and passion. He was previously chairman of Taronga Zoo and co-chair of the Royal Botanic Garden. In these roles, Bruce was responsible for developing Sydney's coastal walkways, expanding Dubbo zoo and raising $7 million for Taronga's rhinoceros compound and species-saving program. Mr Deputy Speaker Gillespie, I know of your great interest in zoos.

Bruce attended Rozelle Public School and North Sydney Boys High School. He was a messenger boy for the Air Raid Organisation at Roseville during World War II. During this time he also commenced surf lifesaving. At the age of 18 he attended the Royal Military College at Duntroon, and graduated four years later as a lieutenant, while also serving as flag-bearer for Bilgola Surf Life Saving Club. After resigning from his commission, Bruce worked in a number of jobs such as for James Hardie, the fibre cement manufacturers, as well as becoming a senior executive at Hardie Grant Books.

Remarkably, throughout his working and family life, Bruce managed to maintain his community involvement and status as a distinguished surf lifesaver. He rowed at Bilgola while helping to construct the Bilgola club house, as well as playing rugby for and serving as president of the Gordon Rugby Club. He also held a number of positions such as volunteer director and treasurer of Keep Australia Beautiful, a not-for-profit group committed to conserving Australia's natural beauty and tackling issues such as littering. In 2008 Bruce was made an Order of Australia member as part of the Queen's Birthday honours for service to the community, particularly through the Keep Australia Beautiful program.

Bruce Robertson is certainly an inspiring character. His motto—to give back to society as society gives to you—has made him an exemplar Australian and an exemplar member of the Mackellar community. We would all do well to learn from his inspiring example, and I am proud to commend Bruce for his efforts over the years.