Mr KENNEDY (Hawthorn) (16:20): As principal of Loyola College, Watsonia, I knew John Cain for a long time as the member for Bundoora. He was a diligent local member and most supportive of constituents and the local community, including Loyola. Ceremonial duties that he put up with, I should say, ranged from opening Loyola’s B block in 1983 to being the guest of honour at annual art shows and presiding at debutante balls at Heidelberg town hall. Indeed it was the work of John Cain and Jenny Macklin that inspired much of my initial regard for the Labor Party, I have to say.

It was lovely for Bronwyn and me to catch up with Nancye and John in the parliamentary gardens after the opening of the 59th Parliament. Having accepted the invitation to my inaugural speech in the Legislative Assembly, health issues precluded John’s attendance on the actual day, with apologies delivered as always by personal contact, such was his style. Very briefly I will just read from the message that was left in my office, and you will recognise this as vintage form and content, I am sure:

John Cain called the office and is an apology for Wednesday night.

He wishes you his best but has mobility issues post an orthopaedic operation and 6.30 is quite late for him.

He did want to pass on however that he believes you have a real role to play—

and it then went on about various things in possible association between government and non-government schools and so on. That was the sort of trouble someone like that would take when many of us would simply hand in the apology and be done with it. I just felt that in some ways the tone of it all summed him up.

Whilst awaiting a flight I remember bumping into John and Nancye at Sydney Airport. They were also en route to Melbourne but their journey had originated in Brisbane. John explained that the direct Brisbane–Melbourne flights were full. I was surprised that Qantas could not have found something or helped the busy Premier in this respect. That is John explained. Nancye explained, ‘You don’t know him. John will simply not do that sort of thing’. Point taken.

John Cain chose not to belong to a political faction as such, but his Labor values were unmistakable in word and deed. We salute him as a person of integrity with abundant and generous leadership vision and achievement.