Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 07 Hansard (Tuesday, 1 August 2017) . . Page.. 2216 ..
MR PARTON (Brindabella) (10.35): It is always a very sad time when a great life ends. It is always very sad. But I think there is also joy that comes through as we remember what a great man Val was and we remember the amazing effect that he had on so many people. Tharwa will never be the same. There will never be another Val Jeffery. What a man. It was a privilege to know him.
I see Val as one of the last remaining links to the old Canberra. To me, he represented the mountains and the trees as much as he represented the people, but he also represented a generation of doers. I think one of the reasons I felt such a connection to Val is that he reminded me so much of my father. My late father never got to meet Val but, had they come together at a pub somewhere, I think they would have got on famously. They were both unashamedly old school in most of what they did. They both ran small country stores. They managed to connect to the entire community. They were both able to gather so much wisdom about the ways of the world as they made their journey through life.
I came to Canberra in 1999, when Val was in his mid-60s, so I did not know him as a younger man. It was a great pleasure to stand among the hundreds gathered at the Queanbeyan Lawn Cemetery last week and to hear stories from those who did know Val as a strapping young man—stories of the strapping young bloke from Tharwa who captained the cricket team. We heard stories about him hauling bags of super, building farm fences and going bush bashing, and the fire brigade stories, stories from people who grew to rely heavily on his expertise and his commitment to keep them safe. And keep them safe he did.
One of the stories I heard revolves around this place. There was a photo session at the time that Val came into this place. There was a photo shoot out the front involving Mr Hanson and Val, and Joe Prevedello was down there from the leader’s office. Now, Joe is a big lad. He is built like a front-rower, he has a voice like a foghorn and he does not take a backward step. The photo was about to be taken and, I am told, Val’s glasses were stuck in the top of his jumper. Joe stepped forward and said, “Val, we might just remove those for the photo.” Val apparently shunted him away and said, “Son, no-one’s going to change me. Don’t even try.” And Joe took a backward step and left the glasses there.
The stories at the funeral reflected the man that I knew. They were stories of hard work, ingenuity and integrity. I can understand why the village—everyone in it—is as proud as Punch of who he was. If not for Valentine Jeffery, Tharwa would have burnt to the ground in 2003. I have no doubt about that whatsoever. In Val we had a man who was prepared to make his mark on the world, not based on what he said but based on what he did.
Rob Lovett, my adviser, got to know Val pretty well after he was assigned to Val as his staff member during his short-lived stint in the Assembly. One of Rob’s tasks was as a taxi driver: to get Val from Tharwa to the Assembly and back on sitting days. During those 70-odd kilometre round trips, Rob got a few insights into Val. Rob tells me that he found a kind and gentle sort of bloke who never swore or raised his voice and never had a bad word to say about anyone. He revealed himself to be genuinely