Condolence motion – Anthony, Rt Hon. John Douglas (Doug)

Thursday, 4 February 2021

Mr PITT: I acknowledge the contributions of my colleagues through this debate, an acknowledgement of the great contribution of Doug Anthony. On 28 January we did bid farewell to a giant of the National Party. Certainly there have been any number of contributions about what he’s done for our nation; for regional Australia; the famous caravan. But I want to speak about character. Genuinely, Doug Anthony was a quintessential Australian. He was a man who had character, and that shone through at the memorial service last week. There were images of Doug at the beach with an Alvey reel and a bamboo creel and a surf rod and a dog. I know that half the people who might be listening to this broadcast probably don’t know what a bamboo creel is. He was quintessentially Australian, taking time to go fishing, to spend time with their families, to teach and provide knowledge and wisdom to their grandchildren. I think that really shone through at the memorial service, not only last week but in all the contributions that have been made here in this parliament.

He was a dairy farmer. He was a lifelong supporter of the National Party and a giant of our party. For me, my experience with Doug Anthony, as someone who doesn’t come from a political background or a political family, as someone who was a child through the 1970s and 1980s, was with DAAS Kapital, the Doug Anthony All Stars, that famous comedy group who were always out there on the cutting edge, tearing apart pretty much everyone in public life. Last week at the memorial, there was a clip played. It was an interview between the former ABC interviewer Libby Gore, the members of the Doug Anthony All Stars, and a live cross via satellite to none other than Doug Anthony. Libby Gore opened with a question and said, ‘So, Mr Anthony, what do you think of the Doug Anthony All Stars?’ And with a straight face, very, very calm, he said, ‘I think they’re the world’s greatest plagiarists.’ I think that was a real reflection on the character of the man that was Doug Anthony: ‘the world’s greatest plagiarists.

I want to acknowledge the contribution of Larry last week. There are very few things in life more difficult than doing a eulogy not only for a family member or friend but for your father. Larry spoke incredibly well, in my view. At the memorial, he spoke about his father’s humble upbringing, the influence of his wife, Margot, and how she shaped his political views. I get that. It happens to me as well. My wife will often say to me, ‘Well, at work they talked about this, this and this, and you’ve got this, this and this wrong.’ I’ve got to say that probably 10 times out of 10 she’s right. It’s good to have that level of support, and I’m very pleased that it was there for them.

He also said, ‘My father did not directly seek power. The power and responsibility came to him, and he discharged this with enormous capacity, enthusiasm, energy and wisdom.’ Larry said many of his father’s qualities were passed on from Doug’s own father through the battles that he had to endure during two world wars. But what grounded him was Margot, his farm, his family and his local community. His son said he believed and hoped that Australia is a better place because of Doug Anthony. We know that Australia and the Nationals are all better because of Doug’s contribution.

It was a great turn-out at the memorial service. I travelled with former senators Ron Boswell and Mike Evans, both of whom are well known to the people in the room. I certainly got a lot of stories on the road from Brisbane down to the service and back. But I think also of the contribution of John Howard. At 80, with no notes, he went straight to the lectern and delivered from the heart. He remembered Doug Anthony as a man defined by strength and decency, an emissary for the producers of Australia throughout a nearly three-decade career. John Howard said he was a man who respected the importance of the coalition. He didn’t bully people, but the strength of his personality and the strength of his arguments won through.

I couldn’t agree more with the former prime minister’s comments. Doug Anthony is one of the great Nationals. He is a great loss to his family, to Australia and of course to our great party. Doug Anthony is someone that we should all look to emulate in this place. We should all look to the history and the lessons that he has provided for us. I say: vale, Doug Anthony. May you rest in peace. We send our condolences to his family and friends.

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