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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 01 Hansard (Tuesday, 12 February 2008) . . Page.. 106 ..

I am very pleased to be able to advise the Assembly that the Ainslie school choir has been invited to perform at tomorrow’s national apology to the stolen generations at Parliament House. This apology is one of the most significant events in modern Australian history and it is an immense honour for the Ainslie Voices Choir to have been asked to perform. I understand that they are the only school in Australia invited to sing at the ceremony.

The school’s choir is due to perform two songs. The group numbers 60 students and contains a mix of Indigenous and non-Indigenous students from years 3 to 6 at the school. I understand that the choir will be performing at the front of Parliament House, and the crowds, of course, are expected to run into thousands.

Ainslie school has a long and proud history of recognising Indigenous history, particularly during special events such as Reconciliation Week, so it is very fitting that they will be playing a key part in the event. I am sure I speak on behalf of all members of the Assembly in wishing the school choir all the very best for the event tomorrow. I pay particular tribute to Ainslie school principal, Jo Padgham, for her guidance of the school and the choir.

Mr Jim Lennon

MR SMYTH (Brindabella) (6.05): Mr Speaker, in this place in condolence motions we honour people who are assumed to be great, whether they be soldiers or statesmen, scientists or sporting heroes. I would like to bring to the attention of the house the passing of a gentleman called Jim Lennon. Jim would normally be called an ordinary Canberran, but his life was anything but ordinary.

Some may remember that in March 1996 a young mother of four was murdered here in Canberra by her husband, leaving four young children—Nadia, Naomi, Isaac and Amera. At that time their grandfather, one Jim Lennon, lived on the Gold Coast with his wife Norah. Jim and Norah at that time were 68 and 70. In the belief that they had an obligation to look after these children, they sold up everything that they owned in their retirement estate in sunny Surfers Paradise and moved to Canberra. Until Sunday, 3 February just passed, Jim and Norah raised those children as their own.

You would never have picked Jim for the fantastic bloke that he was. He was born in 1928 in Coatsbridge just outside Glasgow and grew up in poverty. He had a variety of jobs, interrupted by war service, returning after his service to the poverty that affected the United Kingdom after the war. Jim had something of the wanderlust in him, so he became a merchant seaman and sailed the world. Eventually he went back to the United Kingdom, where he decided to emigrate to New Zealand to be with his sister. Also on the boat was his future wife, Norah. They met a couple of weeks later at a dance in Auckland. A couple of months later they were married and a couple of months after that they found that they were expecting the first of their three children.

Those three children travelled the world with their father, constantly moving between England and New Zealand, with Jim running one business after another. He would make a small fortune and then either gave it away or spend it visiting relatives. The family commuted on a regular basis between Australia and the United Kingdom until the early nineties.

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