Minister for Sport and Recreation
CONDOLENCE MOTION – Dr Vanessa Goodwin
Wednesday 2 May, 2018


Mrs PETRUSMA (Franklin – Minister for Sport and Recreation) – Madam Speaker, I know I speak for all of us here in the House of our great sadness and heavy heart when we all found out about the loss of our beautiful, gorgeous, passionate, kind, generous and loyal colleague and dear friend, Dr Vanessa Goodwin.

Vanessa gave so much of her life to advocating for and helping others, from those in the prisons, her constituents, her great love of animals especially her dogs, horses and cats, her love of her parents Edyth and Grant, and her other great passions, the arts and sport.

Whether it was doing her doctorate as an associate for former Chief Justice at the Supreme Court the Honourable Guy Green, her research with the Department of Police and Emergency Management, being the member for Pembroke, the Attorney-General, the Minister for Justice, Minister for Corrections, Minister for the Arts, or Leader of Government in the Legislative Council, Vanessa had a quiet drive in her which touched all who knew her.

This drive was evident even before she was elected to the Legislative Council in 2009 in a by-election.  Like me, it was Vanessa’s third attempt at a seat in parliament after previously running on the Liberal’s Franklin ticket in the 2006 state election followed by challenging Julie Collins for the federal Franklin seat in the 2007 federal election.  On her third go, it was an election Vanessa won easily and which she again defended her seat in 2013 winning with 51.1 per cent of the vote.

To all who knew her, Vanessa was a quiet achiever, but the celebrations we had on both of those occasions were joyous, very special occasions that I will remember deeply.  I will never forget how proud we and her Mum, Edyth Langham, were of her on both of those nights.

It was during 2006 that I first had the privilege of getting to know Vanessa personally while we both campaigned in the 2007 federal election.  In 2009 we were both again campaigning hard for election, myself for a seat in the lower House and Vanessa for her upper House seat.  It was during both of those occasions that I experienced firsthand her ambition and drive, her passion for the disadvantaged in the community, her dedication to her work and her great love of Neighbourhood Houses, Rotary and her loyalty to everyone in the party.  These were all traits her family and friends already knew well, but traits the rest of Tasmania were to learn more about.

Vanessa was so well respected by all who knew her and her work was held in the highest regard.  Her work made a real difference to so many people.  She served her electorate of Pembroke and the Liberal Party with passion and dedication.

I do not think we will ever forget the week when Vanessa first started to show signs of the insidious illness that took her life, brain cancer.  During that week, she and I were at a function where I noticed that she was looking around the room and could not focus.  I said to her, ‘Why don’t you go home and I can do the next function for you?’, but she insisted that she was just tired from doing the Pollie Pedal.  Then on the Tuesday we were about to cross the road to go to Cabinet and she stopped so I went back and got her.  Afterwards I told her I was sorry I did not notice anything wrong earlier but Vanessa, with her great strength and resolve, said it would not have made any difference.

During those times when we saw her in hospital, at her house, at functions, or at the walk for brain cancer, it was Vanessa’s strength that also got us all through.  She had great determination that she was going to fight that illness, and fight she did, to the very last.

During the two weeks before the election was the last time I had the privilege of seeing her.  All she wanted to hear about was the election campaign.  She did not want the focus to be on herself at all, because by then she knew that the news was not so great.  All she was passionate about and driven by was to make sure she was there to see us at the end.  She wanted to hear everything about the campaign and how she could help.  We told her just her love and support and to know that she was there in our corner was all we needed.

It was a bittersweet day on 3 March when we all got the message from the Premier that Vanessa had sadly passed away.  To Vanessa’s family and friends, we want to say that she was loved and appreciated by all who knew her.  Everyone in Pembroke loved her.  I know that when I went around the neighbourhood houses after she passed away they were all so grief-stricken, as well as all her Rotary friends and colleagues.  It is testament to Vanessa of the deep impact she had on so many in the community.

Vale, Vanessa.  We miss you deeply and rest in peace.