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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 07 Hansard (Tuesday, 1 August 2017) . . Page.. 2208 ..

Whilst we in this place will undoubtedly miss him, the people who suffer most during this time are his family and close friends. Our thoughts and sympathies are with them, particularly his wife, Dorothy, and son, Kevin, during this period of bereavement. On behalf of the parliamentary ACT Labor Party, I extend my condolences to the Jeffery family.

MR COE (Yerrabi—Leader of the Opposition) (10.05): It is with great sadness, but also pride, that I rise today to speak in memory of a former member of this place, Valentine Max Jeffery OAM, AFSM. It was a year ago tomorrow, on 2 August 2016, that Val entered the Legislative Assembly for the first time as an MLA, making his maiden speech, after filling a vacancy in the Assembly. I believe he was the oldest person ever to deliver a maiden speech in an Australian parliament.

While Val only briefly held public office in this place, we are all aware that his pursuits in life before he entered the Assembly are why he will be so dearly remembered. He was a community leader in Tharwa, a passionate advocate for the ACT’s rural residents, a fearless firefighter and a stalwart of our community. While he was in the Assembly for only a brief time, Val certainly did not waste any time in making his opinions known. His raw honesty and his nature to pull no punches should be recognised by all of us in the Assembly today.

Val was born in December 1934 in Queanbeyan and, as he described in his inaugural speech, he lived through the Great Depression, the Second World War and the impact it had on the Tharwa community. In that speech he delivered here a year ago tomorrow, Val spoke passionately about Tharwa and what he regarded as a growing disconnect between government and the people. I quote from that inaugural speech:

… Australia started moving from a population ingrained with get up and go after enduring a depression and two world wars to approach a generation of educated politicians and bureaucrats out of touch with the real world of those decades.

He went on to say:

… an active, vibrant rural community like Tharwa does not ask for much but expects a bit of respect, which has been completely lacking since self-government. Surely it is time for an ACT government to take a deep breath, open its eyes, look a bit outside the concrete bunker in Civic and recognise that there is an important rural part to the ACT.

As we are remembering Val today, these words should serve as an always timely reminder that we in this place are here to serve the people, not ourselves, and that the local government should not lose touch with its citizens, including rural citizens.

As a community man, Val played a leading role in numerous organisations in Tharwa, including the local progress association, the Tharwa community hall trust, the Tidbinbilla Pioneers Association, Junior Farmers in Tharwa and the Tharwa school board. He was also president of the Tharwa show society for many years. Of course, he also ran the general store for 60 years, taking over from his parents. In addition to being an accomplished dancer and poet, Val was also a keen shooter, and he played cricket and tennis.

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