Snippets from A Tumultuous Life...

  • Sometimes it was very hard to write this book. I was forced to look back to my mistakes and how I’d hurt the people I love the most – my family.
  • My first day at the Brigidine Convent was traumatic. Mother Dolores – a small, dark nun with sharp features and bony fingers – led me crying into the middle of a group of frightened five-year-olds.
  • Darcy Farrell rang and offered me a job as a journalist at Channel 7 where he was the News Editor with a reputation as big as the sky.
  • When the last votes were counted, and recounted, I had won by 30 votes. The West Australian summed it up: “Balcatta, once the sort of seat politicians dream of, has become a Labor nightmare.”
  • In 1983 I led Labor to its biggest ever election victory. The record lasted until 1986 when we won with an even bigger vote.
  • Bill Hassell seemed lost for words. “I don’t think people actually dislike me. I think it is just that they like Burke … Burke’s cleverness is that he is a man of limited ability who has the capacity to appoint people to advise him and then he takes that advice.”
  • It was frightening. The confidential minute prepared for Sir Charles Court showed the debt from the North West Shelf Gas Project could bankrupt the State.
  • “Bob,” Paul Keating said to the Prime Minister. “It’s just not on. Just because Burkie’s got some harebrained scheme to mint gold coins in Perth, you can’t let him take over the Royal Mint’s job.
  • A final word: "I never saw anyone better than Paul Keating. Like the AFL footballer Wayne Carey at his best, Keating came closest to being the total package. Luckily for Labor, what he lacked, Bob Hawke had, and together they were unbeatable".
  • Alan Bond’s later life was shot through with sadness. Laurie Connell liked to portray himself as the working class boy, a battler who despised the establishment. Yet he craved the approval of society’s elite, and bought his way in. Robert Holmes à Court was just 53 when he died in 1990 of a heart attack so severe that, I was told, he could not have been saved had the heart ambulance been parked at his bedside. “Twiggy” Forrest is the best salesman I’ve met. He’s not as good as Robert Holmes à Court at financial engineering, and he’s not as personable and humorous as John Roberts, but he’s better than both of them at selling. As a school cadet Denis McInerney marched on display and his grandmother said: “Look at my Denis, he’s the only one in step.” Grandmother McInerney was right. Her grandson has always been in step, but just with himself not with the rest of us.
  • I don’t know where he came from – Mars, I think! Everyone knew Dallas Dempster who was propelled to prominence when he almost single-handedly conceived and built the Burswood Casino. But no one knew anything about him.
  • In the lilt of Irish Laughter you can hear the Angel’s sing...the family left for Ireland.
  • At Canning Vale Prison, it was hard to ignore the tinge of hot danger infecting everything that happened every day. Everybody was on edge. The "screws" rarely relaxed, and the prisoners, resentful and angry were unpredictable and often threatening.
  • .. the other 30 per cent of prisoners were mentally unstable and often very dangerous. At some time, we’ve all wondered how anyone in their right mind could commit such horrendous crimes. The answer is simple: they’re not in their right mind.
  • Bruno Romeo was the most frightening man I’d ever met. He carried with him an air of menace. Officers and inmates feared him. His reputation for unpredictable and murderous violence, as I would learn more about later, was known throughout the prison.
  • After the Court of Criminal Appeal set me free, no one apologised for the months I’d spent in prison ... I just packed all my belongings into one cardboard box and went home tired and worn out with worry. I really didn’t care much about anything and on the way home Sue and I stopped to watch our youngest son – Joe – at soccer training. That’s when it all got too much and I broke down and cried.
  • As the smoke cleared at the end of my bruising battle with the Corruption and Crime Commission (CCC), the Court of Appeal found the commission had acted unlawfully.
  • Of all the things that happened during the years I struggled with the CCC, there was nothing so distressing as the case of the father who killed himself just days before a public hearing.

    ... powers as pervasive as those given to the CCC should only be exercised by the best, brightest and most balanced minds. If the CCC is to benefit and not convulse the community, then it should not be a breeding ground for the power hungry or the complacent.

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