10 May 2023

Parliamentarians pause to pay tribute to Billy Gordon

| Matt Nicholls
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MEMBERS of parliament from all sides of politics have paid tribute to the legacy of the late Billy Gordon.

The one-time Labor MP, who served as the Member for Cook from January 2015 to November 2017, died last year at 49.

Billy’s fiancee Olympia Little and his siblings and friends were in Brisbane to hear the motion of condolence in parliament.

In total, 10 MPs spoke about Billy and his legacy as both a politician and a man.

Both Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Opposition Leader David Crisafulli spoke about his tenure, however the best tributes came from lower-level colleagues.

“As the only two First Nations peoples in this place after the 2015 election, Billy and I shared a special bond,” Minister Leeanne Enoch said.

“We both understood the extra responsibilities we carried and the weight of these responsibilities, but for Billy when he joined the crossbench during a hung parliament where his vote was a defining one, he carried an extraordinary amount of responsibility – in many ways, more than anyone else in this place.

“The pressure on him at that time was physically visible.”

The late Billy Gordon and finacee Olympia Little, wearing their NRL team colours with pride.

Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey was visibly emotional when reflecting on his friendship with Billy.

“On most occasions during that parliament, Billy, along with the government, used his vote for reform on a wide range of measures which were substantial and lasting and will never be undone,” he said.

“Many members who have to leave a governing party involuntarily for the crossbench are often then a handful, to say the least, and few remain loyal or even civil at times to those that they are no longer with.

“Billy Gordon was a rare exception on virtually every occasion. As he said to a member of my staff over a late night sitting beer, ‘I’m a Labor man and I always will be sista.’

“Billy would be the first to say he was no angel. He was, however, a good friend and one I am glad to have had and to have shared part of my journey with.

“I saw Billy a number of times since he left this chamber. He was always the same – cheerful, interested, curious.

“I did not consider then that the opportunity to catch up with him would cease so suddenly and far too early.

“I half expect to run into him in the corridor and can still see him floating around these hallways, popping his head in the door with a cheeky smile and a quip.”

Other MPs who spoke included current Member for Cook Cynthia Lui, Katter’s Australian Party MP Shane Knuth and Deputy Premier Steven Miles.

Billy’s sister Megan Carpenter wrote: “Today was an important day for us. It was quite emotional but mostly heart-warming to listen to the many positive things my brother did in making things happen for First Nations people.

“He tried to Close the Gap not only in his electorate of Cook but First Nations people all over.

“Many of these things (they said) I didn’t know because he never talked about politics with us. I was delighted to hear these things and I am very proud of my brother’s accomplishments.

“Billy made an impression on so many people within parliament and that clearly showed today when 10 politicians stood up and took turns in talking about him and the kind words, they gave.

“Four of these politicians cried speaking about him and recalled fond memories they have of him, especially stopping to yarn with them and have a beer when he could.”

Editor’s note:Billy Gordon might not have had the legacy he wanted in politics, but his time in parliament was significant, nonetheless.

He was always happy to pick up the phone and have a yarn about politics, business or life.

Seeing the Broncos on top of the ladder with a 5-0 record adds extra pain because Billy was the biggest Broncos tragic out there.

His death is also a timely reminder for all of us to get a health check from a GP.

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