Bert Collins

Thank you Deputy Speaker. I’d like to tell the House about my mate Bert Collins.

Bert is the sort of bloke who deserves to have his name and his story etched into the record of this place. Bert was born almost a hundred and four years ago and he’s still with us. He’s still ticking. He’s a pretty extraordinary bloke. He’s the oldest member of the Labor Party at least in the Bankstown area. He’s the oldest member of Bankstown RSL. He’s been a member now for 58 years. He was the oldest veteran to march in the Anzac parade in Sydney this year.

He’s part of that very special generation of Australians that helped to fight, defend and save Australia in our darkest hour. And it cost him. He was hit by shrapnel but survived. He’s a pretty tough bloke but he didn’t just survive the war didn’t just survive being hit by shrapnel. He had a heart attack a couple of years ago and he survived that. He’s had a stroke and he survived that. Two years ago he was diagnosed with stage four malignant melanoma. The tumour had spread to his brain to his liver to his bones to his lungs. And he survived that.

He’s the oldest Australian to survive melanoma to survive skin cancer through a special drug called Keytruda. I went over to see Bert on Friday and as well as being a tough bloke it’s important that the House knows that he’s also very gentle and loving bloke. I asked him what’s the secret to a long life?

He said two things first. First – don’t eat too much. And the second is be nice to everybody. Tomorrow is my little boy Jack’s third birthday and Bert, 100 years older than him, has made him a music box for his birthday.

And Bert got a present himself last week. There’s an organization that it’s important the House knows about called Quilts of Valour Australia set up about eight years ago.

It makes quilts as the name suggests. They can take months to make that cost hundreds of dollars to make.

They’re made by volunteers and over the last few years they’ve produced over 1000 for veterans and their families here in Australia and veterans serving overseas. And last week Bert finally got his. It’s a beautiful quilt. A beautiful gesture for such a wonderful man as he heads into his 104th year. A man that I’m very fortunate to call my friend.