History Parliament

Condolences Hon John Hamilton Simson

10 June 2015

Mr WALSH (Murray Plains) — I rise also to speak on the condolence motion for John Hamilton Simpson. I congratulate the current member for Niddrie for doing such a great job in his contribution on a previous member for Niddrie. We always learn more about members who we do not know personally when we listen to condolence motions, and the member for Niddrie did him proud.

As has been said, John Hamilton Simpson was born in Essendon and lived there all his working life until retiring to Western Australia to be closer to his family. He left school early, at 15 years, and spent some time as a roustabout in shearing sheds and wool stores. Obviously that work did not appeal to him for the rest of his life. My sense is that having left school early his father probably sent him away to learn some life skills, which has been talked about, and which you would in shearing sheds. He came back to Essendon and learned to be a French polisher and, as has already been said, on the death of his father he took over the family furniture store in Moonee Ponds.

A lot has already been made of his football career with Essendon and then with Williamstown and with Brunswick. My understanding of that time is that there was quite significant rivalry between the Victorian Football League (VFL) and the Victorian Football Association (VFA). I would imagine that swapping from one to the other was probably not something he did lightly, but if it meant getting a game, perhaps that is why he did it. There were those in the VFA who felt they were better footballers than those in the VFL at the time, so it would have been an interesting time, as is the case when you change football clubs.

I note that in Jack’s inaugural speech, a contribution to the address‑in‑reply, he talked about a lot of things in his electorate. He talked about the issue of Essendon Airport, the Tullamarine airport and noise with planes coming in and out over the top of his electorate. He also touched on the fact that, at that time, there was a trial being approved for the Concorde aircraft to fly into Melbourne. It is interesting how times change, is it not? I do not think the Concorde aircraft is even in service anymore. I do not believe it did many flights to Melbourne as part of that trial.

As has been mentioned, Jack talked about the issue of quarry dust in his electorate. He talked about the issue of water quality and the Greenvale Reservoir and the fact that at the time there were high bacteria levels in the reservoir. The effective way of treating that is with doses of chlorine, and he said that a lot of people were bringing drinking water into the electorate because they did not like the taste of the water that was being provided by Melbourne Water. On being elected he went and met with Melbourne Water about trying to resolve that particular issue.

The majority of Jack’s contribution to the address‑in‑reply was around the issue of public transport for his electorate. If you go back and read people’s contributions on the address‑in‑reply when they first start in this place and you think about what things are topical and being talked about at the moment, you realise that a lot of the things they talked about are still topical. No doubt that is why we still all have a job being members of Parliament: to come here and advocate on behalf of our communities. As Jack spoke about, as his particular part of Melbourne grew so did the need for public transport and services in that area, and that is still the case as Melbourne continues to grow. I imagine we have quite a few members in this place who will continue to work on behalf of their communities as Jack did on those issues.

Jack had the opportunity to serve as a minister. I think everybody who comes into this place and gets the opportunity to serve as a minister appreciates the trust that is put in them by the people of Victoria who sent them here and in particular the trust that is put in them by the government of the day to serve in the ministry. As someone who was very keen on those issues of public works, to be able to have the opportunity to be a minister in that area no doubt would have been an important part of Jack’s life at that time.

I notice that in the Warrnambool Standard there was an obituary notice about Jack. It talks about the members of his family and finishes by saying ‘We have lost the CEO of our family’. Obviously he was viewed very strongly by his family as being the patriarch of the family — Big Jack, as he has been described.

On behalf of the Liberal‑Nationals coalition I offer my condolences to Jack’s family. He was obviously someone who was very proud to represent his community in this place, and he did that well, going by the contributions that have been made, particularly by those on the other side, who knew him a lot better than I did. My condolences to his family.

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