House debates

Wednesday, 23 November 2022


Moffatt, Mr Don, AM

7:30 pm

Photo of Ted O'BrienTed O'Brien (Fairfax, Liberal Party, Shadow Minister for Climate Change and Energy) Share this | | Hansard source

Last Thursday evening I had the great pleasure of attending a wonderful event in the hangar of LifeFlight at the Sunshine Coast Airport—that wonderful organisation. We heard the news that Jocelyn Walker, a giant of the Sunshine Coast, has become a patron of the organisation. I stand today, though, to talk about someone else who was referred to at that event.

When Rob Borbidge, the chair of LifeFlight took the stage, he looked across the hangar and made comment that one of the rescue helicopters was not in the hangar for people to look at that evening, and he was of course referring to the helicopter which has the name the Don Moffatt. Don Moffatt passed away on 11 August this year, and he was very close to Rob Borbidge, as he was to pretty much everyone in that room on Thursday night. The way Rob said it was wonderful. He noted that the Don Moffatt helicopter was not in the hangar, and in doing so he said something along the lines, 'The Don Moffatt's not in the hangar, but it's out there somewhere, no doubt rescuing people.' As I stood there my heart stopped, remembering that man, Don Moffatt, and I was able to give a gentle elbow nudge of acknowledgement to Karyn Moffatt, Don's daughter, who was standing next to me. Don Moffatt not only chaired LifeFlight; he was also the recipient of a Member of the Order of Australia for his service to the helicopter rescue service as well as the racing industry in Queensland.

I was enormously fortunate to forge a very good personal friendship with Don Moffatt. Don, for me, was a quintessential Australian mate. He would be the first to take the mickey out of you; but, I tell you what, if you ever needed a hand, Don was there. Don was as hard as nails—God, he was tough! But he was also the most gentle, soft fellow. He would fight to the end. He was as loyal as. He was a veteran. He served in Vietnam, and then he later taught, again using his aviation skills. The love that Don had for our region was quite something, and he served beyond his success in property. He served as chair of a unit trust. He served as chair of what's now referred to as Visit Sunshine Coast. But it was his capacity to love and to be a mate, and especially the love he had for his family, and my heart still goes out to Bridget, his wife; to Jodie and Karyn; and to Don's two grandchildren, Ulee and Scarlett, who miss him dearly, because they know that Don was always there. He was larger than life.

Don was a Liberal National Party member, and he rang me the night just before my first preselection in 2013. He'd already told me he was going to give me his support. I answered the phone and Moffatt said, 'O'Brien, I just looked at your CV again. You went to Nudgee College. Are you a Catholic?' I said, 'I am, Don.' True to form, he said, 'Well, I'm not going to vote for a damn Catholic,' and hung up the phone. I didn't know the guy that well, so of course I rang him back and said, 'Hey, Don, do we need to chat about this?' He said in that drawl that I came to know so well, 'Mate, just joking.' Don was there. Don was always there.

Our region of the Sunshine Coast is built on the shoulders of the likes of Don Moffatt. The current generation, and even we who are privileged to be in some form of leadership position, are there because we are on their shoulders. As much as Don Moffatt has passed and left this world, I say to Bridget, to Jodie and to Karyn: he is with us. He always will be. We miss him and we love him.