Shayne Neumann MP
Federal Member for Blair

Australian Labor
Facebook Twitter YouTube

Vale Don Livingston


I would like to pay tribute to a good friend of mine who passed away on 15 October this year, Donald Wallace Livingstone. He was known as Don to all of us. Don was the Queensland state Labor member for Ipswich West from 1989 to 1998 and from 2001 to 2006. Don was born in Kingaroy on 1 October 1948. He left school at 14 years of age and came to Ipswich at the age of seven. He worked in a variety of different jobs. Working in the power industry, he became active politically and joined the union. He became a councillor, then known as an alderman, in the Ipswich City Council in 1985. He was elected on that great day in Labor history, 2 December 1989, when Wayne Goss ended 32 years of conservative rule in Queensland.

One of Don's favourite sayings was, 'Hey, numbers beat logic any day.' I can recall him saying that on the way to state conference at his Yamanto home, with his grandchildren running around, over a cup of tea with a cinema-size TV facing him. I heard it from Don recently at St Andrews hospital in Ipswich and the Ipswich hospice as he courageously faced his mortality. With Don it was all about the numbers. He knew the numbers. He knew the number of dollars he needed as a state MP for Ipswich West for projects and community groups in his electorate. He knew the number of votes at each polling booth in Ipswich West at every election and how they voted, this way or that. He knew the numbers and the names of those he described as red-hot Tories. He was a master. For the Queensland state Labor conference, ballots, pre-selections, AGMs, branches and party units, Don certainly knew the numbers.

Despite his illness and infirmity, recently he asked me back to his hospital bed so we could talk and check the numbers for a recent internal Labor Party AGM. Despite his failing health, he attended his own Ipswich northern suburbs branch because Don knew the numbers mattered. Don could be hard and tough, but he could be sentimental and emotional as well. He was devoted to his wife, Cheryl, his daughter, Karen, his son-in-law, Matt, his son, Graham, and his beloved grandchildren. He told me many times that his greatest regret in leaving this earth was that he would not be there to see his grandchildren grow up. His eyes always twinkled and became moist when he laughed and his voice would break.

He was loved and loved in return. He loved his community. He was a great community champion. Yesterday, 300 people paid tribute to him, and I am pleased that I was there yesterday with the mayor of Ipswich, Paul Pisasale, his good friend, my campaign director, Peter Johnstone, and former Queensland cabinet minister Robert Schwarten, who paid tribute to Don's life.

After Don's successful stint as a campaign director in Ipswich, my first in-depth conversation with Don was when, curiously enough, Don asked me for his vote, even though I was involved in the Ipswich state electorate helping David Hamill win his seat—I actually lived and still live in Flinders View, in Ipswich West. When I told him I would have to speak to David about that, Don had a smile across his face because he knew that David was delivering the numbers for Don in Ipswich West. So he left my home in Flinders View very happy indeed, because he knew how I would vote. I accordingly cast my vote for Don in the preselection. It was then that an acquaintance became an alliance and I have been his political ally and factional mate for all of that time. He was a mate and a mentor to me and to many other Labor politicians in Ipswich.

Who can forget Don in his four-wheel-drive out in the country with his good mate John Staines, 'Stainsey' to his friends, with Labor signs everywhere, street meetings, door knocking, trailer behind—you name it, this dynamic duo was everywhere. Both of them are probably now in political glory plotting the numbers and campaigns in the future.

Don was relentless, unyielding, dogged and determined—he was all of these things. The votes he got in rural communities was simply amazing for a Labor candidate. I wish I could get those numbers, I can assure you. At the last state election, Don was there in Ipswich with his good mate Barry and his son-in-law, Matt. I think at one stage everyone on Don's campaign seemed to have the Christian or given name Barry. On one of his better days recently Don said he was looking forward to the 2016 Ipswich City Council campaign because, 'I may have half a campaign in me yet.' So Don was campaigning till the very end.

We loved Don. He was a mate. People opened up with him. Rest in peace, comrade. You have done the Labor Party and the union movement very well indeed.