08 October 2020

Everyone who serves in this place knows that they are able to be here as elected representatives only because of the support provided by their family and friends. Today I want to reflect on the life of someone whose family I became a part of a little more than 20 years ago. The remarkable extended family of Walter Murdoch King farewelled this wonderful gentleman last week, on 1 October. After a short illness, Walter died at the age of 88 in the loving company of his wife, Adelphe. Walter is the father of my husband, Jamie King, whom I first met 21 years ago and married soon after. I was warmly welcomed into the King family and into their significant and joyful extended family.

As was said last week in the memorial service to his life, Walter was interested in people and what they did, and he was always an enthusiastic conversationalist. Never lost for words, particularly when one was trying to leave a family gathering, Walter was kind, supportive and welcoming to me as a new member of the King clan. It should be no surprise that Walter King was a stellar conversationalist, given his father, Alec King, was a lecturer in English at UWA and his mother, Catherine King, was a much loved broadcaster on the ABC in Perth, responsible for the creation of the women's sessions and the development of kindergarten and early childhood education in WA.

Walter was born as the depression of the 1930s was setting in and, like many who grew up in those tough times, he was modest and frugal and learnt to make and repair things, a trait that his son Jamie has inherited and taken up enthusiastically. The toolkits and tool chests and all manner of powered gadgets in our garage attest to his enthusiasm. For most of the time I have known them, Walter and Adelphe have lived in the historic town of York, the oldest inland town in WA. Their shared love of the country saw them purchase 10 acres on the outskirts of town, and they called it Jarvisfield. Together they undertook the herculean effort of transforming a redundant wheat paddock into a comfortable home with a quite remarkable garden of mostly indigenous trees and plants, restoring the land from the devastation of agricultural clearing of many years before.

York is as pretty as a picture in winter but can be unbearably hot and dry in the summer. But, if you follow the dedication and commitment of people like Walter and Adelphe and you plant literally thousands of trees and you work and work at it, a transformation of the land can be had. Tomorrow the community of York will hold a second and final memorial to the life of Walter Murdoch King. For the decades they lived there, Walter and Adelphe were committed to the service of the local community. They were enthusiastic volunteers in the Holy Trinity Church, which occupies one of the oldest Anglican church buildings in the country, as well as in many local associations. They were stalwarts and servants of a community that loved them both.

I have Walter to thank for making me and Jamie keen keepers of bees. Walter got us a used beehive, set up our very first queen bee and got us a nucleus hive from his very expert neighbour, Kingsley Dixon, the former head of the Kings Park and Botanic Garden. It would be fair to say that Jamie and I were terrible beekeepers to start with, but 10 years later we've got better and better and have learnt much, and I doubt we would've become beekeepers without Walter and Adelphe getting us started.

Walter and Adelphe have been very supportive of our decision for me to run for parliament some five years ago and were always interested in our travels together. Walter raised fine children—a good woman, Mary-Ellen, and three good men, Matthew, Simon and the love of my life, Jamie King. You'll be sorely missed and fondly remembered, Walter King, now resting with God. Vale, Walter.