Bill's Speeches

STATEMENT ON INDULGENCE: JOHN BANNON AO

STATEMENT ON INDULGENCE: JOHN BANNON AO

 

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, CANBERRA

 

TUESDAY, 2 FEBRUARY  2015

 

*** CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY ***

On behalf of our Labor family, I pay my respects to a proud son of our movement and a great leader of South Australia.

John Bannon was a man apart.

An introvert, in an industry dominated by extroverts.

A traditionalist, who modernised his state.

A historian focused on the future.

A distance runner who rose to the Premier’s office at a sprinter’s pace.

And a modest man, with so much to be proud of.

When John was just 16, his family were rocked by tragedy, when his ten-year old brother Nicholas got lost on a family bushwalk in the Flinders Ranges.

Despite a massive search effort, his body would not be recovered for two years.

The loss left a deep mark on John.

Many friends believed his famous unstinting determination was drawn in part from a sense of duty to his brother’s memory.

As South Australia’s longest serving Labor Premier, John transformed the state into a competitive economy – and Adelaide into a modern city.

Arguably, he was the father of the submarine industry in Australia when he brought it to South Australia and Bannon cleared the way for mining work at Roxby Downs.

Along with a casino and a Grand Prix, he gave Adelaide a new sense of itself and a new sense of self confidence.

John’s belief in his state as a place worthy of big events did not end when he left office.

It underwrote his 15 years as a member of the South Australian Cricket Association board, just as his passion for progress drove his work on the National Indigenous Cricket Advisory Council and his belief in better engaging remote communities through sport.

As the Prime Minister said, at John’s funeral, his daughter Victoria spoke of her father’s life -long love of running.

Incredibly, between 1969 and 2007 he completed 28 Adelaide marathons – 11 of them under the 3 hour mark.

Victoria asked her father how he kept going, he replied:

“The decision to stop or keep going should never come up, you decide at the start how far you want to go, and that's how far you go.”

That is at the core, I believe, of the qualities that made John Bannon, a great Premier, a strong reformer, a champion for progress.

It gave him the fortitude and integrity to accept full responsibility for the collapse of the State Bank– when so many other individuals and events owned a share of that crisis.

Mr Speaker

John Bannon has earned his place in the pantheon of Labor heroes.

He has served his state with honour.

And he filled every unforgiving minute with sixty seconds’ worth of distance run.

We remember him, we honour him.

May he rest in peace.

MEDIA CONTACT: LEADER’S OFFICE MEDIA UNIT – 02 6277 4053