Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 07 Hansard (Tuesday, 1 August 2017) . . Page.. 2214 ..
has affected Canberra and how much Canberrans expect of their government. One day while here in the Assembly, Val asked Mr Corbell, the ESA minister at the time, a question about a rural fire we had had the remote firefighting team sent to the year before. Val could not hear a word of the answer, so the next day I printed out Hansard for him to look at. He sat there in his office looking at Hansard and he said, “Lies, lies. It’s all lies.” It really made him angry. He believed that in the bush you have to jump on a bushfire really hard and really fast—and clearly he is right—and it worried him that we were putting people in danger and people’s properties in danger unnecessarily and that our natural environment would be destroyed.
Last week Val was buried. His funeral was attended by a great number of people—hundreds. I saw many dedicated RFS and fire service personnel. He was known as someone who would put himself on the line when there was danger in his work on the Bushfire Council in its various iterations, as well as in his local RFS unit. At his funeral it was said that for a decade he undertook six-monthly checks of our various bushfire trails around the region and he really lamented that these trails had been closed or given less attention over the time since. He saw this as a cause of needless danger.
Val’s funeral was a really simple ceremony, held beneath two glorious golden wattles. The birds chirped overhead and it felt like even the overhead planes were there to salute him. He wanted a religious minister to administer his funeral, not because he was a religious person but because he believed it was the right thing to do. As my colleague Mr Wall has said, his coffin was made by local craftsmen of beautiful local wood, with bolts and washers from the old Tharwa bridge that he fought so hard to have upgraded. As we stood there looking out over the hills and valleys of Canberra, I pondered that there could not be a better place for Val to be laid to rest—looking out over the countryside which he so loved.
Val was a salt of the earth sort of man. He did not try to impress with brand-name clothing or shiny shoes. His actions spoke louder than any of that could ever have. In fact, I believe he may go down in history in this place as the only man to ever pull off the polo shirt with the elastic tie. In reality, none of those things really matter. When our lives are over, we will be measured by our love. Val loved his family and he loved his fellow man and his community.
Val was a man whose life is told in his actions and achievements for other people. He is and will remain a legend of our city and our region. Val fought for better fire safety from bushfire, for the repairs to the Tharwa bridge, for his community’s identity and for its local school, closed in 2006. He was well respected by people near and far and he will remain someone that this Assembly had the privilege of having within its four walls—not the other way around. Godspeed, Val. Even though you did not think it is there, I hope to meet you in heaven one day.
MS LAWDER (Brindabella) (10.30): I rise today to pay tribute to Val Jeffery OAM, AFSM. Much has been and will be said about Val, who was, amongst other things, the unofficial mayor of Tharwa, the proprietor of Tharwa store, a longstanding and highly regarded bushfire fighter and a short-term parliamentarian. Beyond these