Page 376 - Week 02 - Tuesday, 15 February 2005

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I just wanted to say that my childhood was affected a bit by the gentle man that John Dainer was, and my young adult life was affected also because he was a magistrate in the town that I chose to make my home.

It is worth recording the compassion that John Dainer brought to the bench in this town. I actually know quite a number of reasonably successful businessmen in this town who came before His Worship Mr Dainer on a number of charges varying from speeding and DUI to knocking off cars and all those things that wild young men do. His compassion and the way in which he treated these young blokes turned their lives around. None of the people I speak of went on to do anything more serious. More importantly, they actually got control of their lives and they are now pillars of the community.

I wish to record my condolences and the condolences of my family and to recognise John Dainer for the very quiet giant that he was within my life and within the community in which I live.

MR STEFANIAK (Ginninderra): Other members have gone through various aspects of the life of John Joseph Dainer, or JD as he was affectionately called by his friends. I would add one thing to his earlier life: I think he left school at 16 to become a junior clerk on the railways, to help out his family. While he was a junior constable in the New South Wales Police Force, he studied at night to become a member of the legal profession. In 1952 he married his wife, Bette, and they of course had Chris and Mike Dainer as a result of that union.

I first met John Dainer back in 1979. I had recently come back from Muswellbrook, where I had spent three years. I think I probably met him in the early seventies through-the sport of rugby union, as both his sons were good rugby players. I recall the first couple of cases I had before one of his colleagues, another reserve air force officer in the legal corps, Wing Commander Nicholls. JD was a wing commander and young Ron Cahill then was, I think, only a flight lieutenant, but they were all serving in the air force legal reserve at the time. I can recall losing the first two cases as a prosecutor and thinking, “This is strange. I thought I was meant to win now, having got used to losing up in the bush as a defence counsel.” I started appearing a lot in front of John Dainer, and Mr Hargreaves and Mr Stanhope are quite right about he contribution he made to the legal profession in Canberra.

It was always a pleasure to appear in front of JD. He was always very courteous. He was also a very good, practical, quick and fair magistrate. He had a unique ability to do shorthand and quite often he would embarrass many practitioners, me included, by saying, “No, no, no, that witness did not say that” and he would read out exactly what the witness said. No-one else in court could keep up with the note-taking that JD could do in court through his shorthand.

He brought to the bench the unique experiences that he had gained in life, as a young police officer, in the motor cycle squad especially, as a respected practitioner in private practice before he went to the bench and also those he gained through such pursuits as the Royal Australian Air Force and the sport of rugby union, which he also loved.

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