Page 308 - Week 01 - Thursday, 9 December 2004

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . . PDF . . . .

Peter Meyer was a rare connoisseur—he knew the value of most things but cared little for the price of anything. He lived his life intuitively—it was never about storing away social or economical capital in a calculated way. All his qualities, his wit, his courage, his kindness, his intelligence, his loyalty, his taste, his gentleness—his sheer presence—had nothing to do with self-aggrandisement … None of what fascinated him was mere affectation—he lived and breathed it. Whether playing pool or scrabble, drawing his fabulous cartoons, rediscovering painting, or sharing time with those he cared about. Common to us all will be a sense of gratitude for the privilege of having known him.

That is why Peter had so many people who loved him, cared for him and had no compunction about being his friend. Another friend of Peter’s, Nick Szentkuti, once said to Rosalind: “Rosalind, I am not Peter’s friend because I feel sorry for him. I am his friend because he is intelligent and funny and he is my best friend.” And he was.

Peter was very fond of good food but was always as skinny as a rake from walking everywhere. I remember Peter once recommending a restaurant to me in Surry Hills as a great place to go. He said, “The food is great and, even if you walk in looking like a beggar, they treat you like Jesus Christ.” He was quite right: the food was excellent and you really did get treated like the Messiah when you walked through the front door.

On another occasion I remember Peter had got his mother to drive him over to our house earlier than was required for dinner. He had great anticipation of my mother’s beef olives. I do not think Mum had actually made them that night, but Peter spent the entire evening enthusing and reminiscing about Mum’s beef olives.

Given everything Peter had to contend with given his schizophrenia, it would not have been surprising if he had become self-obsessed. But Peter was always considerate of others, and went out of his way to help them. Peter saved me from a very difficult situation at a critical point in my life. Without Peter’s intervention, I doubt that my sanity, and possibly my life, would have remained intact. For Peter’s actions at that time I will never have words enough of thanks.

On 1 January 2003, Peter killed himself. He could no longer live with all the voices that plotted against him, belittled and demeaned him. For the rest of the world, we are far poorer beings without him.

I have made this speech today because his mother recently released her book, A Window Into Schizophrenia—my brown bear and it makes for insightful reading for anybody dealing with a loved one who has schizophrenia.


MR SMYTH (Brindabella—Leader of the Opposition) (6.00): On behalf of the entire opposition, I would like to offer season’s greetings and good cheer to all 17 members of the Assembly and their families; to you, Mr Speaker, in particular, for the leadership you offer us and the way that you conduct the Assembly; to the Clerk, who is not present and is probably dreaming of Christmas with his new wife; and to all the staff.

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . . PDF . . . .