Minister For Sport and Recreation
CONDOLDENCE MOTION – Anthony John (Tony) Benneworth OAM
Wednesday 2 May, 2018

Mrs PETRUSMA (Franklin – Minister for Sport and Recreation) – Madam Speaker, I rise to express my own sense of sadness on the loss of Tony Benneworth OAM.

Tony will always be remembered for being a passionate, committed and great advocate for northern Tasmania, in particular for his electorate of Bass which he represented in our state parliament from 1992 to 1998.

Over the years, Tony has also been a great member, friend, colleague and mentor to so many in the Liberal Party.  A man who never lost his touch with everyday Tasmanians.

Today, I also want to speak briefly on his friendship and connection to my own family and on behalf of my family to express our condolences to Linda, Simon, Holland and Fiona.

I too grew up in the electorate of Bass and, for that reason, Bass will always be my second most favourite electorate after my own great electorate of Franklin.  Growing up I spent many weekends at the Riverside Cricket Club.  Tony and my father, Barry Harper, were great mates as Tony’s contribution to Tasmania went far beyond politics.  Tony was a former first class cricketer with Tasmania, president of the Northern Tasmanian Cricket Association, a former board member of Cricket Tasmania, and was also the president and board member of the Trevallyn Bowls Club, a division one selector and the president of Bowls North since 2008.

Before my father passed away, Tony was a lifelong great friend and teammate of my father at the Riverside Cricket Club.  When Tony first arrived at the club in the late 1960s, my late father, Barry, was the club captain at the time.  Both Tony and my dad, as well as being past captains, were also presidents and life members of the Riverside Cricket Club, members of the club’s Hall of Fame, state cricketers as well as being state cricket selectors and life members of the NTCA.

They were great lifelong mates and when my dad passed away, Tony did the eulogy at my dad’s funeral.  My mum, Pam Harper, told me that my dad stated that Tony’s talent as a cricketer was evident from the day he first walked in the door at Riverside Cricket Club.  However what my mum remembers most about him was that Tony was always a true gentleman to everyone who he met and was around.

My brother, Grant, remembers him as his coach and he said that he was a great coach of the cricket team and a great and wonderful personality both on and off the oval.  For me, growing up as the eldest of four kids and probably spending a bit too much time in the club rooms, for me at a younger age, Tony was what I always imagined Santa Claus would have been.  He was always jolly and happy and always had a joke.  He did dress up on occasions, but I always thought that he would be the ideal Santa Claus.

My mum also vividly remembers a conversation that she had with Tony’s mum Freda at the cricket one day.  We kids were all racing around the club rooms and oval.  Freda told mum to enjoy her time with us as kids because soon enough we would be grown up.  My mother always reflected on how right Freda was.  As I stand here today following in Tony’s own footsteps as a member of parliament, talking about his all too brief life, I also reflect on how quickly time does move on and it can move on too suddenly.

It was with great sadness that my family and I found out about the sudden loss of Tony in March following a boat accident at Ansons Bay.  My mum and brother were up at Ansons Bay at the time.  My mum has a shack there and it is usually a beautiful place where I have stayed at nearly every year of my life, but sadly that day my mother and Grant were out in the boat when the accident happened.  The sudden loss of Tony has hit us all very hard.  It was so hard to process that someone who was larger than life has now moved on.

Tony certainly was larger than life and that is why he was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia in 2014 for his service to the community of Tasmania.  He was also a former sales manager, a commentator and a journalist.  Most importantly, above all else, he was a family man – a husband to Linda, a father to Simon, and a stepfather to Holland and Fiona.

Men like Tony do not come along every day and Tasmania was very fortunate and lucky to have Tony, as northern Tasmania and sport especially are a better place because of his presence.

Today, though, my family and I remember him as a dear family friend.  I pass on sincerest condolences from myself and the Harper family to Linda, Simon, Holland and Fiona on the loss of a truly great man.  Rest in peace, Tony.