Legislative Council: Wednesday, September 27, 2023


Salvemini, Mr L.

The Hon. C. BONAROS (15:42): Today, I wish to speak very briefly in memory of a larger than life man I had the privilege of knowing and calling a friend. We met in the worst circumstances following the death of his beloved son Jack, and he is known to many of us in these corridors as Mr Lee Salvemini.

It is fair to say that Lee's remaining years after Jack's passing were spent not just stricken with grief as a parent having lost a child but also doing his level best in terms of advocacy in relation to our work safety laws. He spent many years consulting with many of us in this place; Madam Acting President, you included; members of the crossbench; members of the opposition; and members of the government. He became almost a permanent fixture in this place in his own quest.

But I do not want to focus on that today. What I want to focus on is the friendship that I had with Lee, and it was a special friendship. He was very much a larger than life man. His voice alone was enough sometimes to intimidate people. I laughed yesterday when I attended his funeral—a packed funeral with 300-odd people—in hearing the memories that were shared by his son Gavin of all the things that Lee had achieved in his life but also all the funny moments.

I reflected with his daughter Maria and his wife, Carol, also a very dear friend, about our screaming competitions on the phone, because Lee would raise his voice and I would raise mine a little louder, and she said you would almost have to kick him under the chair when you took him to a meeting to get him to calm down and stay in line and stay focused.

Above all, and I have not come prepared for this today, I just want to wish and extend my condolences once again to his family: to his beloved wife, Carol, who we know he absolutely adored; to his children, Maria, Francine, Gavin and Carlee-Ann; and of course, in memory of his loving son Jack.

We know what impact Jack's death had on Lee. He said at one meeting, 'We will fish the great oceans of heaven, and I will be able to see his big smile. We will be able to laugh about the big one that got away. This is my light at the end of the tunnel.' When I received the phone call to say that Lee was close to falling asleep, I know that everyone I spoke to said that, finally, he will find the peace that he deserves, and he held on to that hope of being reunited with his son and finally having some peace in his life. That is what we wish more than anything for Lee.

Once again, I extend my heartfelt condolences to his family, and I think I speak for all of us when I say that. Lee was, above everything else, a very simple, hardworking, loving man who loved his family, who loved his children, who loved his grandchildren, who loved his great-grandchildren. I know on a personal level that the friendship he showed me and my family is one that I will treasure forever. I certainly hope that he reaches Heaven's pearly gates and is reunited with his son, that they can fish those great oceans again and that he finds the light at the end of that tunnel.