News Parliament

FEDERATION CHAMBER - GRIEVANCE DEBATE - BOLAM, MR BRUCE JOHN, OAM, HAYES, MR CECIL WILLIAM

When prominent citizens of our region pass away, it's important that their achievements and contributions are recorded. I wish to take the opportunity to do this today. Bruce Bolam passed away unexpectedly at the age of 77 earlier in the term of this parliament. It is fitting that his contribution to Australia and the city of Bathurst appears in our nation's Hansard. Bruce was a towering figure in Bathurst and central western New South Wales. He was a well-known businessman, former mayor of Bathurst, philanthropist and family man. He was born in Far North Queensland in 1939. Bruce, his wife, Rose, and their three young children, Megan, Melissa and Andrew, came to Bathurst in 1974 for a holiday and never left. They spent their first winter living in the old caravan park before Bruce went on to become one of the region's most successful business people. He was a true entrepreneur who was not afraid to take risks. Through his many business ventures he built wealth, prosperity and opportunity, not to mention employment for many, many country people. Over the course of his career Bruce ran several successful businesses, including a security business that expanded from one branch to 30 and became the largest privately owned security business in the country. He also owned and operated the motel and caravan park on the highway at the entrance to Bathurst. In fact, the iconic gold-panner that still greets visitors as they enter the city today was his idea.

Over the course of his successful career he helped, through many acts of kindness, a huge number of people who were in difficulty. The public never knew about them. His love of Bathurst saw him actively and successfully engage in public service through his role as mayor, an office he held for four years. While he only spent four years as mayor of Bathurst, in the 1980s, he never stopped striving to see Bathurst grow and develop. He later moved into property development. His developments literally changed the streetscape of Bathurst for the better. I spoke to Bruce and his business partner, Dave Pennells, about how proud they were that their developments were not only modernising the streetscape but also maintaining the heritage value of Bathurst. It's a legacy that will last for decades. His creativity was also evident in his love of gardening, which culminated in the grand championship of the Australia-wide national garden awards in 2001 for his home, Blair Athol. In 2014 Bruce was fittingly awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia for services to the Bathurst community.

Although I didn't know Bruce for long, I greatly enjoyed his company, and I highly valued his views on local and national politics. He had a keen sense of humour and was a real gentleman. I was proud to count him as a friend. He is greatly and deeply missed by his wife, Rose, and his children Megan, Melissa and Andrew. He is greatly missed in Bathurst as well. However, his vision lives on. Construction on his projects continues to this day. At his funeral, Bruce was described as a dedicated and true Bathurstian. He was. He was a true friend to many, a true visionary and a great regional Australian.

Cecil Hayes was a self-made man. He was the son of a blacksmith. He was an only child, born in Manildra on 22 May 1930. His father, also Cecil, was a blacksmith and his mother, Annie, was a school teacher. As a child Cec made his way around Manildra in his father's next-most-impressive creation, a magnificent wooden billycart finished with leather trim. The billycart was pulled around town by his pet goat, which young Cec trained himself.

Cec learned much from his blacksmith father. He was able to fix anything and he was always tinkering, making things or making things better. His formal education ended at the end of sixth class, when he was told by a nun that he would amount to nothing. How wrong she proved to be! Covering his 21st birthday, the local Manildra magazine described Cec as the most conscientious worker and a boy of upright principles who was a credit to his parents and popular with all walks of life in community. After leaving school, Cecil started out as an apprentice motor mechanic at Snell's Garage in Manildra. He inherited his lifelong love of trucks from his uncle Bill Boles, and at 19 purchased his first truck, which was a 1937 International D35. Just a month later, Cec was carting wheat to the silos in Manildra when the cab caught fire. He was always calm and pragmatic. He recovered the truck and managed to finish the job. He continued truck driving until the end of the harvest, when he rebuilt it from scratch. That truck stayed on the road, and it was the start of Cec Hayes Transport. He was as proud of it at the end of his life as he was on the first day the company began. At its height, Cec Hayes Transport, his family business, operated 10 B-doubles and expanded into fuel distribution as well.

He was 28 when he married Shirley in March 1959. Their first son, Michael, was born by the end of the year, and, in quick succession, they went on to have three more sons—Johnny, Barney and Paul. Though he himself was an only child, Cec was an inspiration to his sons. He enjoyed their respect and seldom had to raise his voice. He raised his sons to look out for each other, work together and enjoy each other's company, and they did. Cec was tough but he never complained. He was a true gentleman.

In the early 1980s, Shirley and Cec moved from Manildra to Orange. The house in Namatjira Crescent was a place where children, grandchildren, friends and neighbours would all drop in for a cup of tea or a beer to spend time with their Pa. When they moved to Orange, Cec established his trucking business in Leewood, and one by one his sons joined him full time in the business. Even though he was the boss, it didn't stop his love of being on the open road. He loved trucks and the trucking community, and he had great respect for everyone. He made some great mates and was universally admired.

Cec Hayes was the first to receive life membership of the Livestock and Bulk and Rural Carriers Association, its highest honour. Around 1990, after hundreds and thousands of kilometres on the road, Cec handed over the reins of his transport business and turned to his next love—farming and horses, in particular trotting horses. One of his trotters, Owner Operator, won two races at Harold Park, to his great delight. As a local member, I would often—and still do—attend harness racing meetings around the region. I would invariably see Cec at these meetings, and we would always get together with the program and have a flutter. We'd have a punt, and I would take Cec's tips on all of these races. Some days we had more luck than others, but I certainly enjoyed his company at those country race meetings, as did everyone else. He had a true love of harness racing. Many people on those country race tracks enjoyed Cec's company and enjoyed having him at the track.

But it was on the farm that Cec really enjoyed himself. He loved being outdoors, fixing things, and his grandchildren and great-grandchildren loved spending time with him out in the paddocks. For those who knew him, Cec was a wonderful husband, father, grandfather and mate. He could walk into a pub and have a drink and start up a conversation with anyone in the room. He was a true quiet achiever. He was humble and modest and measured in his thinking. He was calm and he was a kind man. He was a real country gentleman. I know that he's greatly missed by his family and friends.

You could see the depth of his community involvement by the number of people who attended his funeral. I was one of the attendees on that day. Afterwards, many of us gathered at Duntryleague Golf Club in Orange, where we swapped stories about Cec. There was a wonderful display of photographs at Duntryleague which recorded the various stages of Cec's life. He had a very rich and full life, and I think it's a life to which we should all aspire. He was, as I said, universally admired. He came from humble beginnings yet enjoyed great success. He was supremely modest and an inspiration to so many people. It's a privilege to be able to honour him in this Chamber this afternoon.