Page 1368 - Week 04 - Tuesday, 5 April 2011

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Charles was a lovely man; I am sure many Assembly members knew him. He was a fighter pilot, I think, prior to his life as a volunteer chaplain—but he came to live and work in Canberra and he was a very important member of the Presbyterian Church. I am sure all members of the Presbyterian Church are important, but he was a very active member of the Church of St Andrew in Forrest. He was elected as an elder in the church in 1968, which meant that he had a pastoral role which he shared along with the minister in looking after the care and wellbeing of members of the congregation.

Charles was part of the furniture at the Canberra Hospital. Many nurses who have been there for a long time were at his funeral. I do not think there was a dry eye in the place; he was such a kind and gentle man who believed so much in the good that the hospital did—and that dates back to Royal Canberra Hospital, Woden Valley Hospital in its former life, and the Canberra Hospital. He had had a period of quite significant illness in the lead-up to his death where he spent long periods of time at the Canberra Hospital and certainly when I went and visited him there he was very reluctant to be discharged from the Canberra Hospital as he felt that was where his true family were after his wife, Jean, had passed away a couple of years before. But Charles was a very gentle man who spent a long time supporting not just patients at the hospital but staff as well.

He was very well read, he had a very extensive library at his home in Canberra and whenever he and I met we often talked politics. He made no secret that he was on the left of the political spectrum and we always had some quite enjoyable conversations about that. He was always up to date; indeed, I visited him a couple of weeks before he died, on one of his last days at the hospital, and he was talking to me about all the fun and games that had been played over the hospital car park and he had just read the latest story in the Canberra Times I think the day before.

Charles was a true silent achiever, a local hero who deserved the award that he got and hopefully we can bring to the attention of others the tireless work that he did for members of the community, driven by his own faith but also just in a general sense he loved being part of the public health system and wanted to continue to invest in it. Even though he acknowledged it had shortcomings, he felt that it was much more important to look at how you improve things from the inside and he made a huge contribution. I know that everyone in the pastoral care area of the hospital is missing the role that he played, as I am as well.

Minister for Children and Young People—advice

MRS DUNNE (Ginninderra) (4.26): For two successive days in question time the opposition have been asking Minister Burch about text messages where people had made allegations about the potential for cover-up and corruption of the inquiry into Bimberi youth justice and other youth justice services, and the minister has given contradictory and obfuscating advice.

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