Distinguished Liberal Senator Warwick Parer died suddenly on March 15 just a few weeks short of his 78th birthday. This is part of a eulogy delivered by his daughter Carolin Morahan at his Requiem Mass and State Funeral on March 21 at Our Lady of Mt Carmel Church, Coorparoo.
DAD was born in Wau in Papua New Guinea in 1936.
His mother, Nance McGahan, was matron of the Mt Perry Hospital near Bundaberg till she was swept off her feet by an adventurous aviator, Kevin Parer.
Kevin owned Parer Air Transport in New Guinea and this is where dad was born.
When the Second World War intervened their idyllic life ended.
Dad recalls being excited about getting on the big boat when his father stopped him, gave him a hug and said “if anything happens to me I want you to look after your mother”.
This was the last time Dad saw his father and the conversation resonated with him for the rest of his life.
Grandma, pregnant with Aunty Helen, Dad and his siblings Kevin and Mary-Pat were evacuated to the Darling Downs.
Dad had fond memories of his time in Warwick, with all the McGahan and Portley clan and often spoke to us of “riding bareback through a ploughed field” , the “horse and sulky trips with his Puppa” and “ filling his bicycle handlebars with warm water to warm them for the icy trip to school”
Dad’s time in Warwick developed his love for the rural lifestyle and he remained a frustrated farmer for the rest of his life.
Believing Dad and Kev needed more male guidance, Grandma relocated the family to Holland Park in Brisbane so that the many Parer uncles could be part of their lives.
Here, he attended St Joachim’s Convent and met three lifelong friends whom he has remained close to and who are here today – John McCarthy, Tony Medland and Pat Finnimore.
All four continued their education at Nudgee College with many of Dad’s cousins including Rob, Michael and Terry Parer.
Dad played a lot of sport and managed to do just enough to pass Senior.
Thinking he should follow the example of his uncles, Dad enrolled in a Medical Degree at the University of Queensland.
By second year he had lost interest and coincidentally met a beautiful physical education student named Kathi Martin.
Dad relocated to Melbourne to work with Uncle Stan, and Mum and Dad continued their courtship by mail for several years – only seeing each other once or twice a year.
On a trip back in 1958 Dad presented mum with a ring and infamously said: “If you like that, you can have it”.
Mum was understandably unimpressed, so dad came back six weeks later, and received a more favorable response.
In Melbourne, Dad worked for his Uncle Stan at Stanford X-ray.
Over the next 10 years he completed a commerce degree at Melbourne University, attending lectures after work.
He began his own company and had six children.
We all lived in a little house in Kew, money was tight and obviously Dad was busy but it was a happy time.
Our family made some special friends some of whom are here today – The Estellas, Rankins, McBrides, Clellands, Clausens, Bellamys and Duggans.
In 1968, Dad sold the business and in 1970 we relocated to Brisbane and this is where Rohan was born.
Dad took a job at the mining company Utah and had 10 great years overseeing large expansion in the Bowen Basin.
His job required considerable travel and in one year he went to Japan 12 times to negotiate coal contracts.
We all used to put on our Sunday best and take him to the airport then do it again a week or two later to pick him up.
But we loved it as he always returned with weird and wonderful toys for all of us.
During his time with Utah, Dad had many dealings with the State and Federal Governments.
In 1984 when a Queensland senate spot became available and was offered to Dad, he jumped at the chance to actively make a difference.
Again, Dad and Mum made many wonderful friends in politics – the Howards, Brownhills, Calverts, Herrons, Gibsons, Shorts and many others.
In 2000 Dad left parliament but remained actively involved with the Liberal Party.
He began to explore Australia, and with Mum he had some wonderful holidays driving around and marveling at our beautiful country.
They bought a big old boat with my brothers, Bill Taylor and Brian Gibson.
It was the vehicle of many near death experiences, but lots of fun.
But this didn’t stop him working.
In 2002 he chaired and presented an Energy Market Review for the Commonwealth, in 2005 he became president of the Queensland Liberal Party and was instrumental in the amalgamation with the National Party to form the LNP.
In 2010 Dad took over from Senator John Herron as chairman of the Royal Brisbane Women’s Hospital Foundation.
He was proud of the achievements of the foundation.
In 2012, with the change of Government, Dad was approached to chair the board of the Stanwell Corporation and loved every minute of it.
He continued in both of these roles till last Saturday.
Dad was a believer and once he believed, there was almost no changing his mind.
He believed in his faith, he believed in his way of life and he believed in his love of family.
Dad recently wrote an autobiography.
In it he describes the life, as interesting and rewarding.
And then he wrote: “Undoubtedly the greatest achievement of my life is to have a family of confident and talented children, who have each found their own unique strengths and developed their own attributes in their own life journeys – seven great Australians”.