House debates

Thursday, 24 June 2021


Pegg, Mr Duncan

11:44 am

Photo of Graham PerrettGraham Perrett (Moreton, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Assistant Minister for Education) Share this | | Hansard source

on indulgence—It's with great pride and much sadness that I stand to speak on the condolence motion for Duncan Pegg. I know that the last fortnight has been hard for many people on the south side. The member for Oxley would agree with that, because early in the morning on Thursday 10 June a real fighter, Duncan Pegg, lost his last fight. Sadly, a great community champion lost his battle with cancer.

Duncan was a fierce representative for his community since his election as the member for Stretton. About half of his electorate is in Moreton and half in Rankin. I thank the member for Rankin for his fine words last week. Electorally, Jim and I shared Duncan, but, in a way, most of the south side shared Duncan Pegg, because his efforts were all about keeping our multicultural community together.

Duncan was a colleague and also a friend. A tireless campaigner, Duncan increased his margin by five percentage points at the last election, something that I only dream about in terms of a political achievement. Maybe if the suburb of Inala or something like that came into my electorate, that might happen. It was an incredible effort from Duncan. Duncan's community is also my community, and I know how much they love him.

I had the pleasure of working alongside Duncan for the last decade. We jointly hosted many mobile offices and street stalls. In fact, it personally cost me about $7,000 when I sent out letters when Duncan was a candidate, but I do still believe that that was money was well spent. Duncan and I attended many, many meetings with grassroots community groups to try to help the volunteers with all that essential but unpaid and largely unrecognised work that they do, the glue that keeps this thing called Australia together.

Duncan was an energetic supporter of so many groups in his community, particularly sporting groups, but so many community groups. In a multicultural electorate like Stretton, which has the highest proportion of people born overseas in Queensland, community events take on a particular importance. They are symbolic and actual about bringing people together. I'm always honoured to attend these events, and I know Duncan was as well. We attended many local celebrations together, and I saw firsthand the love and respect that Duncan's community has for him.

Just over a month ago, I got to attend a community farewell for Duncan at the Sunnybank Performing Arts and Cultural Centre after he announced to parliament that he would be resigning. I am so glad that Duncan got to experience that night. The Premier and many other people were there. The love and respect for Duncan from community leaders and politicians at that event was overwhelming—a living eulogy, if you like, that Duncan got to hear with his own ears.

I'd also like to include in this speech the words of some local community leaders. One is a very good friend of mine, Lewis Lee OAM, who emceed that event and about a million other events. He said, 'My heart shattered into pieces when Duncan mentioned to the audience at the community farewell at SunPAC on 30 April 2021 that I had almost emceed every event he held over the years and this would be the last one.' To quote Janeth Deen, a great community leader from the Muslim community, 'The Muslim community will remember Duncan as a true champion who worked tirelessly for his electorate.' Ali Kadri, who's captain of my cricket team when we take on Rankin—I should mention that cricket match, because Duncan Pegg used to be the umpire for that cricket match between Moreton and Rankin—said: 'Most people live a lifetime without impacting anyone except themselves and those closely around them. Then there are those few whose actions shape the lives of many in a city, town, and country. Many of the latter spend a lot of time and energy to make a little impact beyond themselves, but Duncan Pegg was not one of those. In the little time he spent on earth, and even the little as a representative, he has left a legacy which will continue to impact those he represented and beyond. If anyone ever asked me to give an example of a life well lived, my friend Duncan Pegg's name would be right on the top of that list.' Well said, Ali Kadri.

I meet a lot of people in this job, Deputy Speaker Vamvakinou, as you know. I know many politicians, and I will say that we are a weird lot. This isn't the sort of building that suffers from a shortage of self-belief. That's fair enough; in the contest of ideas you need strong people with strong characters. I've been around this parliament for about 14 years, and I still love fighting for my community and a better Australia. To devote your life to such a noble cause is a wonderful thing. I proudly put on the record right here that Duncan Pegg was one of the best politicians I've ever met. He achieved in his too short life much more than most people ever achieve in a life of lying low. He stepped up when most stepped back.

I know that family was very important to Duncan. He was one of five boys in the Pegg family. Duncan studied law and was a solicitor before entering politics. He represented people who'd been injured at work. Not surprisingly, Duncan showed the same commitment to his clients that he did later to his community of Stretton. Duncan never forgot that experience, and when he had the opportunity as a member of parliament Duncan helped reverse reforms to the workers compensation system which were made under the Newman government. The Newman reforms meant that someone injured at work through no fault of their own could be lawfully terminated for being unfit to do their job. They had no right to any lump-sum form of compensation. That was incredibly unfair. Duncan was on the committee that reversed those reforms. I know he was very proud of that practical change in legislation.

Duncan said in his first speech in parliament that he was drawn to politics to provide a voice against the rise of Hansonism. He said:

Queenslanders are fundamentally decent, tolerant people. They deserved better from their politicians.

Duncan, I will continue that fight for you; I give you my word on that. Duncan lived the promises he made in his first speech. He was always a fierce voice against Hansonism. In the most multicultural seat in Queensland, this is, was and always will be particularly important. Duncan always stood up for the people of Stretton in the Queensland parliament. Duncan achieved so much for the people of Stretton and for Queenslanders and will be sadly missed. I'll finish with a bit of a nod to Duncan's very proud Scottish heritage with a quote from the Scottish poet Thomas Campbell:

To live in hearts we leave behind

Is not to die.

Duncan, you will live on in the hearts of so many in our community. Vale Duncan Pegg.

11:52 am

Photo of Milton DickMilton Dick (Oxley, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

on indulgence—I rise to give my remarks on the worthwhile life and commitment to the Queensland parliament and the multicultural community by the late Duncan Pegg. Duncan Pegg was a hero of the Labor movement and a champion for his community of Stretton, which he loved dearly. That community loved him back. Before his passing, I know he was touched when his office was inundated with cards from local schoolchildren, who took the time to hand make cards with their own messages wishing him well and thanking him for fighting for their schools and communities. I'm told those cards meant the world to Duncan. I want to thank those school students in particular for showing such kindness and thoughtfulness to their local member of parliament.

He loved and valued his community and the incredible diversity that came with it. As we've just heard from the member for Moreton, a great friend of Duncan Pegg, Duncan's electorate is the most multicultural state electorate in Queensland. He always made sure that he celebrated this. Duncan understood that multiculturalism is the heartbeat of our country, and he believed in the importance of passing on legacies and culture to families and children to ensure that their traditions were preserved. As MPs, we have an important role in uplifting and celebrating the diverse people, communities and cultures that we all represent in this place. We must show leadership in accepting and embracing all people from all corners of the world. This is how we maintain our treasured multicultural society. No-one understood this more than Duncan Pegg. He practised it every single day when he was out in his community and when he was on the floor of the Queensland parliament.

I, like many others, was incredibly moved by Duncan's valedictory speech in the Queensland parliament. He spoke of his pride in the diversity in his multicultural community and the spirit of the people of Stretton. He reflected on his journey in the Labor Party and politics, from being a fresh MP who got lost on the way to a caucus meeting, to achieving major wins for his constituents.

I had a very small role to play in his involvement in the Labor Party: I picked him up for one of his first branch meetings. He joined the Labor Club at Griffith University. He was in my local area on the southside, and I took him to a branch meeting at Mount Gravatt East. He was pretty quiet on that car ride, trying to suss out who someone was or what their story was, but I soon learned that every time he spoke he did so with conviction and passion.

He was able to achieve such extraordinary things for his constituents because he believed in the power of democracy, politics and parliamentary institutions to bring about real change, and he applied those every single day with an upbeat attitude and an incredible work ethic. He had a diverse range of political opinions crossing the entire spectrum. In his speech, he also touched on the public's cynicism about politics. This is something that I'm sure most MPs would have recognised and that many of us have tried to combat throughout our time as public representatives. I know he learnt a lot of these lessons from some of his mentors, and I recognise the late Con Sciacca, in whose legal firm Duncan worked and with whom he had a long association. I also recognise the Hon. Santo Santoro, who was particularly close to Duncan. I know both Santo and Con were very proud to see him elected, despite being on different sides of the political bench—Con being on Duncan's side and Santo being on the other side. They were enormously proud, and I know Santo has passed on his condolences to Duncan's family.

Duncan left us all with an important message: we must respect the institution and resist the temptation to lean into that cynicism. He believed in the power of politics to make the lives of ordinary Australians better. He saw it as a vehicle for improving the lives he represented. This is a message that I take to heart, and I encourage everybody in this House to take it to heart as well—to learn and take those lessons from Duncan Pegg. We're all here because the people in our communities put their faith in us to represent them. Duncan encouraged his colleagues to be engaged in politics and public life because it leads to better outcomes. In his final words to the parliament he asked parliamentarians to keep this in mind in everything that they do. Duncan didn't just speak these words; he lived them every day in his time representing the people of Stretton.

I thank Duncan for his wise words and for his contribution to the Labor movement and to Australian democracy, as well as for the amazing work he did for the multicultural communities of Brisbane and Queensland. Duncan, you will be remembered as a true gentleman of politics, an example to us all on how to use politics as a force for good and to always be adaptable when inside the political arena. You'll be dearly missed by the many people who've had the joy of knowing and loving you, especially your family. I extend my condolences to Lindsey, Graham and the entire Pegg family over this tragic loss. Vale, Duncan Pegg. You will be remembered.

11:57 am

Photo of Anika WellsAnika Wells (Lilley, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

on indulgence—It's an honour to be able to make the final contribution in this condolence discussion about Duncan Pegg here in the federal parliament today. I begin by acknowledging that you have to make a fairly worthy contribution in a state parliament for the federal parliament to recognise your untimely death. It gives me great pleasure to build on some of the remarks from the member for Oxley because I too came across Duncan Pegg through the Griffith University political scene. He was, in fact, the person who signed me up to the Labor Party. He was the one who produced the form at the right moment and signed me up. So you could say I am here in part due to Duncan.

He was someone who was extremely gregarious. As the member for Oxley has said, some of his particular qualities are things that were treasured by his community and that our community constantly asks to see in their parliamentarians. He always had time to talk to people. He always had time for a chat. In particular, he was someone who would always seek out the person sitting on their own who didn't have someone else to talk to, and he would be that person for them. I think there is a generosity of spirit in that which made him a very good parliamentarian. I know our communities would like to see more of that in this place.

He also learnt Mandarin to better understand and communicate with his community. I've been trying to learn Punjabi to do the same, inspired by Duncan's work. Again, that is the sort of quality our community seek in their parliamentarians, and we could all learn from that and do more to apply it in this place. I'll finish with another bit of Duncan Pegg wisdom. Whilst he had all of these earnest qualities that made him a great parliamentarian, he also was a very colourful character—

Photo of Maria VamvakinouMaria Vamvakinou (Calwell, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

The time for the statements has expired.