Mr Albert (Bert) Collins

Mr CLARE (13:30): I rise to farewell my old friend Bert Collins.

Bert was 105. He would have turned 106 next month.

He was a lover and a fighter.

Bert loved ballroom dancing, and he was good at it. He won plenty of tournaments.

He loved making music boxes. He made one for my little boy Jack. He loved talking—and boy did he have the gift of the gab!

And he loved Peggy, the woman he waltzed around the dance floor.

But he was also a fighter.

He fought in the Pacific in World War II.

He fought and he beat cancer. When he was 101, he was diagnosed with stage 4 metastatic melanoma. He was put on a trial drug and he beat it.

And he fought for ordinary people. He was a union rep at Farmer’s Department Store, what was later known as Myer. He was a member of the SDA for 90 years.

And until yesterday morning at half past one, he was the oldest living member of the Australian Labor Party.

Two weeks ago, Bert fell over at home chasing cockroaches around the house. He was rushed to hospital, but he never recovered.

Yesterday, I got a call from Bert’s great RSL mate, Jim Rigley, that Bert had gone.

Jim also told me that he went over to Bert’s house and in the corner where he fell over were two dead cockroaches.

They don’t make them like Bert Collins anymore.

Rest in peace, old friend.