An Appreciation – Don Randall MP -‘‘A Friend, who was there, when often no one else was there – A Friend indeed”
Posted on July 22nd, 2015

Chanaka Bandarage

Sri Lanka Support Group deeply regrets the sudden passing away of Don Randall, Australian MP.

Don died of a massive heart attack on Tuesday 21 July2015,while driving his car in his electorate of Canning.  He was driving to attend a duty as an MP.

The whole of Australia is shocked about the sudden demise of Don – a man with a very Big Heart.

Don was a very important person to Sri Lanka. From the mid 1990s up to his passing away two days ago, Don was undoubtedly the best friend of Sri Lanka in the Australian parliament.

When some Labor and/or Green MPs and Senators unfairly criticised Sri Lanka or presented somewhat incorrect facts about Sri Lanka, Don stood tall in the parliament confronting  them.  He was often the lone voice for Sri Lanka in the Australian parliament.

A fearless fighter, Don confronted MPs who failed to realise that Sri Lanka was facing a brutal terrorist war.  Don tabled Motions in the parliament, among other things, denouncing the LTTE.  He warned that there may be LTTE terrorist links in Australia.  He also worked hard in establishing business links between Australia and Sri Lanka.

In late October 2014, Don wrote to the UN High Commissioner of Human Rights in Geneva that he was happy about the elimination of Tamil Tigers from Sri Lanka.  He stated he was sad that they killed two of his very good friends; Lakshman Kadiragamar (the then Foreign Minister) and Major General Janaka Perera (former Sri Lankan High Commissioner to Australia).  Don stated that the killing of Janaka’ s wife, Vajira, in the same bomb attack was a tremendous tragedy.  In his lengthy submission to the UNOG-OHCHR, Don stated that during his travels to Sri Lanka, he spoke to Tamil people in the North of the country and they spoke to him very highly about the huge infrastructure development that the Government had commenced in the North and East of Sri Lanka, after the war ended in 2009.  He praised the Government’s resettlement of about 290,000 Tamil IDPs within a record time of several months.  He mentioned the successful de-mining operation which Australia funded (for which he lobbied).  Don admitted that some Tamil people criticised the Government for not solving their problems on time.

Don was the Chairman of the Sri Lanka – Australia Friendship Group in the Australian parliament for many years.  He led Australian parliamentary delegations to Sri Lanka.  To the writer’s knowledge, in the last five years alone, he visited Sri Lanka three times.

A keen golfer, it was Don’s great desire to play golf at the Nuwara Eliya golf course, one of Sri Lanka’s best golf courses.  He was able to fulfill his desire in 2013.  Every time he returned to Australia from Sri Lanka, Don came with nostalgic stories. When the writer met with him a few months ago, Don related the experience of spending a day at a Tea Planter’s bungalow in Sri Lanka’s hill country, where he studied the art of picking tea leaves and processing them in the factory.  He had simply cherished that experience.

Don ran his own small charity in Sri Lanka.

Don was a great friend of the Sri Lankan community living in Australia. He maintained close personal friendships with several Sri Lankan Australians.  They included Sinhalese, Tamils, Muslims and Burghers.  Don routinely attended Sri Lankan functions in Australia.  If invited, he seldom missed a Sri Lankan social or cultural event in his native state of Western Australia (WA).

Don actively attended Sri Lanka Support Group functions in Australia.  He worked tirelessly to make the ‘Sri Lanka Way Forward – After the War’ Seminar held in the Canberra Parliament few years ago a tremendous success.

To the writer’s best knowledge in the past 15 years Don did not miss a single Sri Lankan Independence Day celebration in Canberra.

Don was a dedicated MP for his constituents in Canning.  One of his rivals, Labor MP Gary Gray, who holds Don’s neighbouring seat of Brand, said “I have seen first-hand how hard he worked for that community. He worked tirelessly for his local community groups, veterans and aged care services, and for improved local infrastructure,”

“He was a thoroughly good and a decent bloke,” Mr Tony Abbott, Australian Prime Minister stated in a statement on Tuesday evening.  Foreign Affairs Minister and fellow WA MP Julie Bishop issued a heartfelt tribute to her dear friend and colleague” who had a giant personality”. She quipped With wide interests and an inquiring mind, Don worked to promote the national interest by building close links with a number of countries…. He will be remembered for his commitment to community service, his wit, his frank opinions freely shared and his abiding loyalty to his friends”.  Former Attorney-General and the Prime Minister’s Special Envoy for Citizenship and Community Engagement, Phillip Ruddock tweeted Incredibly saddened by the loss of my friend and colleague Don. ……… I’ll miss him greatly”.

The untimely loss of Don is a great loss to Australia.  It is also a great loss for the Sri Lankan community in Australia, and for Sri Lanka at large.

May Don rest in peace.

President, Sri Lanka Support Group (Global)

[email protected]

 

One Response to “An Appreciation – Don Randall MP -‘‘A Friend, who was there, when often no one else was there – A Friend indeed””

  1. dhane Says:

    A great friend of Sri Lanka and good Australian Gentlemen Politician. May Don Randall, Australian MP attain Nibanna & rest in peace.

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