Ben was a great Labor man. At his funeral last week his daughter Sharon told us that as proud as he was to become a Member of the Order of Australia, and receive the Centenary Medal, his most treasured honour was his life membership of the Australian Labor Party. Ben had many identities throughout his life.
In his youth, he was Ben the St John’s altar boy, where he caught Beryl’s eye. They were married for more than six decades.
As a young man he was Ben the mechanic, with the garage at the top of Galloways Hill.
He was Ben the Bushman – traveling west, and across the continent, on wheels, and making friends wherever he went.
In public life, he was Ben the Minister, standing up for northern Australia and for returned servicemen and women, and he was known for fighting for the right of Vietnam Veterans to march on ANZAC Day.
Most importantly, he was always Ben the family man. He and Beryl had lots of joy being surrounded by their five kids and later their grandkids. His family loved him deeply and he returned that love throughout his life.
The family would want me to record thanks to the Hon John Brown AO for speaking at the funeral, to the Hon Paul Keating for the kind message he sent, and to the Very Reverend Dr Peter Catt for officiating.
May Ben rest in peace.