Page 1438 - Week 05 - Tuesday, 3 May 2016

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colleague Dr John Kaye. Very sadly, Dr Kaye was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer in only February this year.

Before his career in politics, John taught and researched electrical engineering at the University of New South Wales, where he specialised in sustainable energy and greenhouse issues. John was elected to the New South Wales upper house in March 2007, where his portfolios included education, energy, consumer affairs, water, and racing and gaming. During this nine-year period as an MLC, he worked with all parties to secure the best possible outcomes for a fairer New South Wales.

John Kaye was known within the Greens for being a tireless champion of public education, leading the national debate on education funding with an unflagging commitment to TAFE and public schools.

John’s achievements in the New South Wales parliament include securing a ban on political donations from the alcohol, tobacco and gambling industries and securing a cap on donations to individual parties and candidates, making the New South Wales campaign funding laws the most comprehensive in the country.

Even while battling cancer, John was campaigning hard to save the steel industry of New South Wales, working closely with unions to save the blast furnace at Port Kembla and to save over 4,000 jobs in the Illawarra region. His passion for saving the Australian steel industry was well known and respected by all sides.

John was a passionate anti-cruelty campaigner and one of the loudest voices against greyhound racing in New South Wales. He was also a key agitator on egg labelling issues, working hard behind the scenes on the issue of national hen stocking density labelling for eggs.

One of John’s proudest moments was defeating the environmentally damaging and expensive Tillegra dam proposal, which would have destroyed vast tracts of prime agricultural land in the Hunter Valley. The Tillegra dam fight brought together John’s core interests of water sustainability, the environment and economic fairness. He was a formidable campaigner and advocate on these issues, as well as taking action to prevent damaging climate change, a cause to which he devoted so much of his life.

I would like to briefly quote from John’s maiden speech from 2007. He said:

… politics is much more than just parliament; it is about how people think of themselves and their community and the possibilities for making life much better. Creating a real democracy is about engaging everyone in determining the future. It is about making sure that wealth and cultural resources do not buy power over those who have much less of each.

I think there is a lesson in these words for each of us. John was always focused on his passions, even when falling ill. He refused to feel sorry for himself. When he was hospitalised recently, Premier Mike Baird rang John to ask if he could assist in any way, to which John reportedly replied, “Yeah, mate. You can stop gutting TAFE.”

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