Condolence for John Kaye

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I make a brief contribution to this condolence motion. This afternoon we have heard some absolutely fabulous memories recounted and some beautiful stories shared. I also acknowledge the late and great Dr John Kaye, an activist extraordinaire and Greens member of the Legislative Council. I believe we were fellow travellers on the road to social justice. Many people in my community, many of my TAFE teaching colleagues from the Blue Mountains and beyond, my union comrades, and all those who came in contact with John appreciate my speaking on their behalf today. 

At a rally some years ago, John and I shared a megaphone as we wandered down the street. We were talking to a whole range of people, including TAFE students and teachers. I remember thinking when he finished saying what he needed to say, "How on earth can I follow that?" At the time I was a casual teacher and a spokesperson for the Labor Party. One thing I will never forget and will always admire John for was his astute ability to pick issues with different parties and different groups of people. As he passed the megaphone to me, he directed a comment to whoever was representing the Labor Party, saying, "Why haven't you preselected this fabulous woman yet?" We spent some time having coffee and talking about TAFE and strategising. I will take a few moments to share some thoughts of my friend Luke Whitington, a Labor Party colleague who worked with John.


Luke said:

John was always an arresting and inspiring speaker and a sharp strategist. I had the privilege and honour of working with John on a number of issues. I first met him as an activist on the Free Burma campaign. John's clarity of thought, his depth of knowledge, and his fierce adherence to principles of solidarity and equality were admirable. He was fearless when others were compromising and he was always broadly informed, even on the most obscure local or international issues. He was also, unfailingly, kind and polite. He was interested in me and my family, in the struggles and the campaigns that we were involved in.

I saw him at hundreds of rallies and protests, and in dozens of debates and legislative fights and never once was he anything but a good bloke. The community of NSW is worse off for his passing, but it is better for his contribution. Rest in peace comrade, sorry to see you go.


John was a tireless advocate for TAFE. He and I marched the streets on this issue and we spoke at countless public rallies. We shared the values of public education and we loved speaking together. I remember Senator Doug Cameron being not very happy about the way I introduced John at a Blue Mountains Unions Council "Politics in the Pub" event. He said, "I hope you have some nice things to say about me too, mate," because he felt that I was a little too over the top in my introduction of Dr John Kaye. Today I express my condolences to his family and friends, colleagues and staff, and members of this Chamber. Thanks for your contribution, Dr Kaye, you were an absolutely fabulous human being. New South Wales mourns your passing. Vale.