Ms BIRD (Cunningham) (16:50): I want to take the opportunity in the House today to pay tribute to two local constituents. Firstly, and very sadly, we recently lost a very dear and valued member of the Bulli-Woonona-Helensburgh branch of the Australian Labor Party, Eileen June Sands. She was known to many as Eileen but to us in the Labor Party branches she was known as June. I want to extend my sympathy in this place to her older sister, Betty, and her younger siblings—Norman, Wally, Stephen and Julia. She sadly lost her husband, Owen, in 1986. She very much loved her sons, Steve and Nick, and that love extended to their partners, Kate and Laura. Her grandkids—Emily, Rose, Henri and Lily—were the light of her life. Indeed, Emily spoke beautifully at her nan's funeral, relaying stories of sleepovers at Nan's, spinach pies and Keno at the pub.
June was passionate about politics. She was passionate about the left of politics and she was a passionate unionist. Above all, she desired an Australia that was fair to all. She was a formidable opponent, as I know, in any political argument. She was very passionate and she could not see how anyone else could have a different and less compassionate opinion than her own. She will be very sadly missed by members of the Bulli-Woonona-Helensburgh Branch, particularly by branch secretary, Alison Byrnes, who loved the collection of newspaper articles that she believed had unfairly criticised Labor and which she brought along to branch meetings each month, demanding that something be done.
She was very passionate about animals and she dearly loved her little dog, Mattie. Many residents of Helensburgh fondly recall Betty, her sister, and June walking their lovely little dogs through the streets of Helensburgh. One of my fondest memories of June was when she and Betty met with Peter Garrett at a Labor Party function in Wollongong. I will seek your indulgence with a prop here, Madam Speaker. It will make it clear to you why it brought so much laughter and joy to people at the funeral. June and Betty fit very snugly under Peter Garrett's arms and it was a lovely occasion to see them all together. Peter is obviously known for his height and June and Betty not. The photo was a very valued one for her .
She was an active member of WAVES, the local Widows and Veterans Entitlement Service, and in retirement she also taught English and life skills to refugees. She marched against the Vietnam War, the privatisation of electricity and Work Choices legislation. It was mentioned in a eulogy that June may have been tiny but she was going to use every inch of her height to fight, as she said, to keep the bastards honest. Her son, Nick, says that she died during a ubiquitous news bulletin, so much a part of June's waking hours. It was showing a smiling Mr Abbott being sworn in. Nick has said that she was no doubt thinking, 'Well, if that guy's definitely in I'm definitely outta here!' We pay great respect to June, who will be sadly missed by all of us.
In the time I have left I also want to pay tribute to another Labor member, Chris Lacey. Chris joined the party in 2005 and is the president of the Thirroul branch and a delegate to our FECs and SECs. He has very strong support from his friends in the Labor Party. This was demonstrated at a dinner where he was joined by his partner, Kerryn Stephens, to receive the New South Wales Labor Rank and File Mackell Award. This was held last Friday night. We joined him with members of the Thirroul Branch, Cunningham FEC and Keira SEC. Other guests included branch president Paul Tuckerman and his wife, Kay, and Ryan Park, the member for Keira. Also in attendance was Keith Woodward. Woody is a life member of the ALP. He joined 67 years ago, in the 1920s, and has worked at every election since. We counted them up and that is 67 election campaigns in 67 years: 26 federal, 21 state and 20 local government. I am sure we all value people whose dedication to our parties is reflected in that sort of activity. Chris had taken on the task of writing the branch history. Again with indulgence, I want to share with the House an illustration of the cover of a book he has produced, Illawarra Agitators. It is a great story of 100 years of the Thirroul branch of the ALP. It took an enormous amount of work on behalf of his local branch members and it was very much valued and the reason for the particular award on the night.
So it is sad news and happy news for some local constituents.