The political junkies, writing obituaries for “Mr. Melbourne”, Ron Walker, have made much of the fact he was the Liberal Party’s cash cow. The party’s national treasurer for yonks, he raised millions, maybe billions, of dollars for the Libs — and tossed in heaps of his own readies when times were tough.
Others have mentioned the squillions of dollars flowing from Crown Casino which he built with Lloyd Williams through Hudson Conway.
I think of Toorak millionaire Ron Walker in different money terms from my days at 3AW. Ron, never Ronald, Walker would often call me after I got off air and pick up on some fundraiser I was doing for a listener in dire straits.
If I was aiming for $20,000 for somebody whose uninsured house had burned down, or some kids who’d been left fatherless, he would inevitably say: “I’ll kick in $10,000 to push it along — but it has to be anonymous.”
That’s why I tweeted: “Goodbye Mr. Melbourne. Ron Walker. What a man. I valued his advice and friendship over 30+ years. And an often anonymous benefactor to many …”
I valued his advice so much, that the only person I told, in advance, that I was going to run for the Senate (apart from my partner and two friends) was Ron Walker.
I went to his St. Kilda Road office, past the wonderful gatekeeper. After saying “Is this wise?” Ron dutifully suggested I run for the Liberal Party but knew I wasn’t a Lib, nor Labor, nor a Green.
Ron Walker was a great champion of Save the Children and convinced me to go, on their behalf, to the Sudan to interview Princess Anne more than 30 years ago.
I thought of him only last week when I was in the Solomon Islands with Save the Children. He got me committed to them for life.
And, I almost forgot. Once we were No. 1 and No. 2 ticketholders for the Melbourne Football Club. But that was in another lifetime. Vale.
Peter Dutton’s recent comments on Melbourne’s restaurant habits (because of gang fears) copped a lot of flak including really injudicious comments from Judge Lex Lasry.
The restaurant jibe was political hyperbole, but, to a degree, he was right.
A notification tweet alerted me to a story I had done for Seven News before I jumped the shark and got into politics.
In a special report about African gang violence in Melbourne, I quoted a magistrate saying: “People are scared to travel on our trains.” And I concluded the report by saying: “It has to stop”.
That was not last week. Not even last year. It was more than five years ago, in October, 2012. It was sadly, spookily, prescient.
So, don’t let anybody con you by brushing this off as something new. Or a media beat-up. Politicians — and former police commissioners like Christine Nixon and Simon Overland — have let Victorians down. Badly.
I have mentioned before, how Nixon banned the use of the word “gang” let along “African gang” when police were struggling with African gang violence in Kensington years ago.
The replay of my Channel Seven report reached more than a quarter of a million people and was viewed 100,000 times.
A segue into state politics. That woman, “Laura Norder”, will feature heavily, predominantly, in the Victorian election in November. And rightfully so.
Law and order will be a major issue because, it seems to me that, for far too long, too many politicians and some head-in-the-sand senior police chiefs, have been mesmerised by the letters PC. As in Political Correctness. When the PC they should have been most concerned about stands for Police Constable. Or how about Protect Communities?
If they don’t think communities are worried about street crime, home invasions and imported African gang violence, and don’t think our police are under physical threat, then they are stupid.
You want proof — apart from the horror headlines about recent events in Melbourne? Take a look at my recent Justice Party Facebook post about a teenager who kicked a copper in the head and was bailed within days.
In that post I said: “This is fucking insane. A young policeman could have lost an eye. Could have been brain-damaged.”
The post reached more than 260,000 people in a couple of days and attracted more than 2000 comments.
I’m sure politically correct pollies and commentators will accuse those Australians of “dog-whistling” and of being racist.
We are back in Canberra on Monday. Can’t wait. Personally, I wish parliament had been recalled earlier but that was never on. One of my (seemingly minor) achievements last year was that I negotiated, successfully, with the government, Labor and the Greens to start a session two hours early one day in the last week to alleviate the logjam.
OK … from acorns, oak trees grow. I have a much bigger Senate reform agenda for this year. Under new president Scott Ryan. Stay tuned.