Senate debates

Tuesday, 15 June 2010


Phillip Noel Eastwick

6:52 pm

Photo of Don FarrellDon Farrell (SA, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise tonight to speak on the life and achievements of a great friend of mine, Philip Noel Eastick, who died at the Royal Adelaide Hospital on 11 February 2010. I think it was the American essayist, Ralph Emerson, who said, ‘The years teach much which the days never knew’. It is true that we learn things that only the experience of years can teach us. There are joys to be drawn from the passing of the years but there is also sadness too. Chief amongst the sadness is saying goodbye to good friends who pass away before us.

My friend, Phil Eastick, died at the relatively young age of 55. Still, in those short years Phil achieved more than many and his achievements will benefit his fellow South Australians into the future. They were achievements he was scarcely known for at the time and achievements that he did not seek to attribute to himself. My hope is that this speech this evening will place Phil’s achievements on the public record in the nation’s Hansard.

Philip Noel Eastick was born in the Hutchinson Hospital in Gawler, South Australia on 8 August 1954. Phil’s father is Dr Bruce Eastick, a veterinary surgeon who also served in the South Australian parliament for many years as the leader of the Liberal opposition. His mother was Mary Dawn Marsh. Phil attended Gawler Primary School, Gawler High School and Adelaide University, where he studied law. It was here that I first met Phil and we formed a lifelong friendship that lasted until his recent death.

It was during his time at Adelaide University that the spotlight came up on the music industry for Phil and his law studies faded to black. Phil left university before graduating—I suspect much to the distress of his parents. Phil quickly earned a reputation for hard work, initiative and for being the sort of person you could rely on to get the show on the road. His reputation led him to being engaged by many of the leading bands of the day—and you will remember some of these, Madam Acting Deputy President Moore—Billy Thorpe and the Aztecs, Hush, MacKenzie Theory, the La De Das and Sebastian Hardie, to name just a few.

Photo of Chris EvansChris Evans (WA, Australian Labor Party, Leader of the Government in the Senate) Share this | | Hansard source

Senator Chris Evans interjecting

Photo of Don FarrellDon Farrell (SA, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Senator Evans remembers some of them as well. His work with Jands Concert Productions and his emerging interest in big stage concert lighting gave him the opportunity to tour with international acts such as AC/DC, Linda Ronstadt, The Beach Boys—again, to name just a few, and you will recall many of those.

In the early 1980s Phil signed up with the band The Angels and he wound up touring with them through the United States. When The Angels returned to Australia, Phil stayed on in the United States and in 1982 he met his wife and lifelong partner, Robin Sharee, in California. They married shortly after and their daughter, Sarah, was born in 1986, also in California.

Phil’s initiative and entrepreneurial drive led him to form Quick Cargo in 1985, a freight logistics business specialising in moving band and production freight all around the world. His company had offices in London, New York and Los Angeles, and some of his clients included the biggest names in the business: Jimmy Buffet, Alice Cooper—we were planning to go and see the Alice Cooper concert last August, until Phil got sick—and Robert Cray, Kenny G, Icehouse, Jefferson Starship, AC/DC, Willie Nelson, Guns and Roses, Red Hot Chilli Peppers and Metallica. Phil was awarded a number of platinum records for his work with these acts.

In 1992 Phil’s kidneys failed and he returned to his home in South Australia to avail himself of the groundbreaking and excellent work being done by the renal unit of the Royal Adelaide Hospital. Shortly after arriving home, Phil received the first of two kidney transplants. After his first transplant, Phil was back at work as soon as he could be—this time reinventing himself as an ICT/multimedia strategic consultant. In those days the internet and digital communications technology were at a fairly embryonic stage but Phil had the intelligence and foresight to see what lay ahead.

In 1995 Phil became involved in Ngapartji Multimedia Centre, which was born of the Keating government’s Creative Nation initiative. It was Phil who brought together many diverse stakeholders, including a consortium of state government departments, universities, local ICT firms, Telstra and Microsoft. It was said that Phil was the father of Ngapartji, an organisation which played a crucial role in the development of the multimedia industry in Adelaide in the 1990s. It was while there that Phil developed the famous definition of the ICT industry as consisting of ‘ferals, techno-terrorists and exploiters’.

When sold in 2008, Hostworks was the largest internet hosting company in Australia and it grew out of the back room upstairs at Ngapartji that Phil and Marty Gauvin shared as an office. They were working together in late 1996 as there was an opportunity to bring the Microsoft internet data centre for Australia to Adelaide. Phil’s leading role ensured the success of this project thereby shifting the centre of the internet in Australia to South Australia, where it remains.

Phil also assisted in the framing of the government’s outsourcing contracts with EDS. This was the first time that any government had outsourced the entirety of its IT needs. The EDS contract also led to the formation of the Playford centre as an industry development initiative. In later years Phil assisted the Playford centre to become a cornerstone of ICT seed and venture capital in South Australia. Phil’s achievements in the ICT industry were many and varied, and they have contributed significantly to South Australia becoming an internationally recognised hub for information and communications technology.

To the amusement of his friends and family, Phil often said his job involved him ‘drinking coffee for the government’. In drinking coffee for the government, among other things Phil drove the creation of the report Information economy 2002: delivering the future. He led the formation of the IT Council, an amalgam of 11 IT industry bodies in the state to form a new peak body, and he served as the founding member of the 2002 World Congress on Information Technology executive committee, an event which largely put Adelaide on the IT map along with cities like Austin in the United States and Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia.

From 2000 Phil had many private clients whom he assisted in their engagement with government and with their business and technology strategies. South Australian state governments also continued to seek his advice. He was a renowned pedant and his attention to detail improved hundreds of government reports.

Phil did all of this while maintaining—and I quote—that ‘he didn’t do geek’. Rather, Phil saw the application of technology with a unique clarity and had the unique ability to translate a vision for the future into something that could be digested by everyone. Phil’s first kidney transplant failed after about eight years, and for many years before his second transplant, in early 2009, Phil endured daily dialysis as well as procedures, minor and major, to correct this and that.

Over the last 12 to 15 years, Phil, John Schumann and I had lunch together once a month or so. We watched at firsthand Phil’s courageous struggle with his health—a struggle which lesser men would have shrunk from. John and I would often wonder to each other just how Phil kept going. When we asked him he would smile quietly and say, ‘Boys, it is what it is, and it’s all part of life’s rich tapestry.’

Phil is survived by his wife, Robin, and their daughter, Sarah. Phil Eastick was a courageous, intelligent and loyal husband, father and friend. He contributed much and sought little for himself. Our world is a poorer place without him.