I have spent a few days trying to have a bit of a break from work and politics, and staying away from things like email, in part I think because of Grant McLennan’s death. While I had only met him a few times, he has strong links to various key aspects of my life and to Brisbane. Perhaps also once you hit your 40s, it probably has a bit of an extra impact when you hear of others dying unexpectedly – in his case at the age of just 48.
It feels to me something like a passing of an era, at least in my life and I’m sure in some others’ too. I couldn’t go to his funeral in Brisbane on Friday as I had to Chair a Senate Committee hearing in Sydney (which I should emphasise was quite interesting). There are some reflections on Steve Kilbey’s website which give one perspective on the funeral and afterwards. I did get back home in time to go along for a couple of hours to a wake of sorts at the Powerhouse at New Farm and caught up with a few people I knew. I also managed to get a resolution of condolence passed by the Senate, acknowledging his contribution to music.
I spent Saturday night having a bit of a footy-fest in front of the TV, which I haven’t done for quite a while, starting at 7.30pm with the Brisbane Lions in the AFL, who managed a win for the first time in six weeks, followed by some Rugby League with the Broncos (also winning), and ending off with the FA Cup, going through until after 2am with extra time and a penalty shoot-out (a thoroughly inadequate way to decide a game in my view).
Then on Sunday I heard the news that Rick Farley had died at age 53. He was head of the National Farmers Federation and the Cattlemen’s Union for some time, but his most significant work was as a Reconciliation advocate and in helping to initiate Landcare in Australia. I had a fair bit to do with him back in 1998 when I was the Democrats National Campaign Director at the federal election that year and he was the party’s Senate candidate in the ACT, which he came reasonably close to winning. I am fairly sure he was from Queensland originally, but if not, he certainly studied at the University of Queensland back in the 1970s.
He had been struck down with a serious brain aneurism around Christmas time last year without warning. I had heard he was slowly improving, but his death will be another big loss at a time when voices strongly promoting reconciliation are becoming fewer and less acknowledged, despite the need being as strong as ever.
On Sunday night I went to the Schonell Theatre at Queensland Uni to see a special session of the Go-Betweens’ DVD “That Striped Sunlight Sound” on the big screen. It was at this Uni that the two original Go-Betweens members got together, and the Schonell was a place where Grant McLennan hung around a lot. Just to add to the general sense of passing, after about 30 years, the Schonell Theatre is likely to close by the end of next month – predominantly due to the funding constraints caused by the passage of the federal government’s VSU legislation.
The documentary part of the DVD – an interview filmed in Brisbane last year – ended with Grant talking to the camera about what the future might hold, and all of the great possibilities that lay in front of him.