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race for the prize

18 December, 2012
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We started Houses & Motions in late 2006, and much of the material we’ve posted over the last six years has been from the period 2006-2012; we’ve occasionally dipped into the wider archives, particularly over summer when Parliament is not sitting, but not to the extent that retired members from pre-2006 have been regularly featured here.

As is no doubt apparent from our posts last month, we started this site in part because we found the parliamentary poetry of Grant Woodhams and wanted to more widely publicise that and other weird things we found in Hansard; however, Mr. Woodhams was not the first, and will probably not be the last, to wax lyrical in Parliament. Valedictory speeches, in particular, are prime occasions for reciting an original work in a member’s final address to their House; in addition to Mr. Woodhams’s farewell, we’ve previously noted Ernie Bridge’s goodbye song. Today, we have another valedictory poem to add to the collection: that of the former member for Roe, Ross Ainsworth, from November 2004:

Mr R.A. AINSWORTH: […] I am about to finish my speech with a little poem that I have written. Writing poems is something I do quite often, but I do not always read them into Hansard. This poem may border on the unparliamentary in some respects, but take it as it comes, as it is something I wrote. I wrote another poem about a year ago because of something that happened in the House, something I took seriously. I wrote the poem and read it at a National Party dinner that is held with the media each year. Apparently it went down well. This year when the dinner was about to be held, Peter Kennedy asked me whether I had written another poem. I told him that these things do not just happen. If something triggers it off, it happens, otherwise I cannot be forced to write a poem. On the morning the dinner was to be held at Parliament House – I was in Esperance – I was having a shower thinking about what was to happen during the latter part of the day and was suddenly inspired; a few lines flashed through my head. My wife got a great shock when I rushed out of the shower and dripped water on the kitchen floor while I grabbed a pen to write down those lines. When people get older – as the member for Dawesville knows – their short-term memories fade. I had to write down the lines while I was still in the mood. The poem was fleshed out on the plane trip and finally this is what I read out that night at the dinner. It has a sporting connection too, which Arthur will be pleased to know. My poem goes like this –

The old racing stables of Gallop and Co
have horses in every race run.
But winners have been rather scarce for three years,
and the punters aren’t having much fun.

In the Western Power stakes, the favourite broke down –
he was carrying maximum weight.
But when Ripper was challenged, he ran out of gas,
and suffered a terrible fate!

He fell in the straight and was carted away –
the crowd thought he should be put down!
They had to restrain about 10 volunteers
who wanted to strangle the clown!

Now, their horses are normally beautifully groomed
but in one race the stable slipped up!
It entered an unprepared filly – “Alannah” –
to run in the Hairdressers Cup!

The jockey who rode her was taken aback
when she bolted like mad down the straight.
But his shock turned to joy as she ran through the field,
and won by a head at the gate.

His joy was short lived – a protest was lodged –
as it turned out, a jolly good job.
Alannah was banned at the end of the race
for returning a positive swab.

The next race to run was the Schoolteachers Stakes.
The favourite – in his estimation –
was “Alan the Lad”
who’d distinguished himself by causing some great consternation.

His connections – the teachers – had suffered abuse and taken a beating in class.
While training, young Alan had just run amok and kicked almost everyone’s arse!

For the Hospital Cup – a very big race
they entered a nag called “Big Jim”.
By repute a strong runner who never broke down
It’d take a brave horse to beat him!

But “Big Jim” had bad luck at the barrier draw,
then stumbled before the first turn.
He was cut off by “Bypass” and then “AMA” –
’twas a lesson he needed to learn.

They say that “Our Clive” will be put out to stud.
He’s run his last race so it seems!
But of glories now past, like his verbal hysterics
he’ll look back on proudly and dream.

Now Clive as a stud is a thought that’s perverse,
And the picture it conjures quite freaky!
There’s even some fear he’s not up to the job,
you all know what makes a voice squeaky!

The dud of the stables, “Young Geoffrey” himself
was given short odds when he started.
The bookies, impressed with appearance and form,
were not keen from their cash to be parted!

Now they are quoting him 50 to 1,
his form has been so unimpressive.
Broken key promises abound by the score
and a bag of high taxes regressive.

The really big race, only held each four years,
comes up in a month or two’s time.

This is the unparliamentary bit –

Will we re-elect losers who can’t tell the truth,
and whose standards are down in the slime?

The public need better – they can’t afford more,
Of arrogant high-taxing waste!
So the race to the line will be crucial this time. Place your bets – but don’t do it in haste.

That was written as a light-hearted poem. It also highlights the fact that Parliament is a serious place. At times some of the things that have happened in this place have concerned me regarding the standards of behaviour of members of the House. A lot of things could be said that are probably inappropriate in a valedictory speech. Suffice to say that I have great faith in the future of this place.

Subject: Recognition of Retiring Members’ Service [Legislative Assembly – Motion]

Date: 9 November 2004

Hansard reference: pp. 7737-7739 [online (pdf)]

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