Championof equalityand regionremembered
Born: Sydney, 1954
Died: Albany, aged 62
Former State Labor politician Robert John “Bob” Thomas died last Tuesday after a three-year struggle with mesothelioma, aged 62.
Mr Thomas was born in Sydney on October 17, 1954 and moved with his family the following year to Western Australia.
As a child, he lived with his family in the infamous former asbestos mining town of Wittenoom for a few years, where it is suspected he contracted mesothelioma, a disease that can lie dormant for several decades.
Mr Thomas was elected from a supposedly unwinnable third position on Labor’s South West Region Legislative Council ticket.
Former colleague and friend Guy Wroth described Mr Thomas as a “top bloke” who loved to have a laugh, a good curry and a glass of red wine.
“He was interested in traditional Labor values of equity and fairness,” he said.
“This is a bloke whose father left his mum and seven kids at an early stage, so he was driven by everyone having equal opportunity and making the most of that opportunity through hard work.” In his valedictory speech to Parliament in 2001, Mr Thomas spoke of this commitment to a fair and equitable society.
“It has been a privilege to represent the Labor Party in this Parliament as a person with a strong commitment to equity and social justice and a desire to make the Western Australian community a fairer, more equal society in which people can advance themselves based on their ability and willingness to do hard work, rather than rely on the affluence of their family,” he said.
In the same speech, Mr Thomas also relayed his affection for the region, describing Albany, Denmark and Walpole as “the most special places in the world”.
Mr Wroth said Mr Thomas would be remembered as a passionate advocacy for the Great Southern region and for his genuine willingness to help people.
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