Paul Lockyer, just 11 days before the horrific crash, visited the township of Grantham, where he was doing a follow-up story. Eleven days beforehand was the last interview that I did with him and I feel sure, though I would need to check the records, that that was the last interview Paul did—the follow-up story on the Grantham disaster. In the short amount of time that I had to know the man, I could tell he was a kind bloke. He showed empathy and compassion, not only with the Grantham incident but also by being the first person on the ground when the floods hit. With his surname being Lockyer, he boasted jovially that he belonged to that valley and that he owned it. He had an ability to make people feel comfortable around him. As a new member I can only suggest that, in the presence of journalists, one is always on edge and cautious about what one says, however Lockie had an ability to make you feel at home and comfortable.
Lockie was born on a farm near Corrigin, about 300 kilometres away from Perth. His award-winning career spanned more than 40 years. Lockie had done everything from working in foreign affairs and as a political correspondent to covering the Sydney Olympics. He first joined the ABC Perth office on a four-year cadetship in 1969 and he quickly rose up the chain, moving to Sydney and then to Canberra in 1976. Three years later, Lockie was made ABC's South-East Asia correspondent. He was one of the first to uncover the full extent of the Khmer Rouge atrocities in Cambodia. After a stint in Washington Lockie returned to Australia to join the Nine Network in 1988. He reported on droughts in eastern Australia in 1994 and A Current Affair was given credit for the inspiring Farmhand Appeal. He returned to the ABC for a decade where his coverage of the Sydney Olympics earned him a Logie award for the most outstanding TV news reporter. In 2005 Lockie was the presenter for the ABC news in Western Australia.
Recently in this House a member made a fitting comment about another journalist who had passed away. He said:
I have been in this place for almost 21½ years and in that time I have interacted with many journalists, past and present. I can honestly say that you could number on my left hand the number of journalists that I would be prepared to speak about in a condolence motion. Rob Chalmers is one of them. I found him to be a good person. I found him to be a decent person. I found him to be a very ethical person. And I liked him.
They were the words of Daryl Melham, the member for Banks. Well, I liked Paul Lockyer and my condolences go to his family. I did not know the other gentlemen, pilot Gary Ticehurst and cameraman John Bean, and my sympathy and condolences go to their families and to the loved ones they leave behind. Having lost a father earlier in the year, I know losing a loved one is a tough gig. To the workforce they have left behind in the ABC family, my thoughts go to them and I know they will find strength and comfort in each other's company. Again, my total condolences go to those loved ones that Lockie left behind.