Tribute to Stan Neilly

Clayton Barr - Private Member's Statement

I pay tribute to one of Cessnock’s greatest ever individuals, a gentleman by the name of Mr Stan Neilly. As I will get to, Stan was a member of this Parliament. But that is not what made Stan great. Stan was going to be great—a great servant to the community—whether he entered this place or not. Stan spent his entire life before he was an MP, during the time he was an MP and after he was an MP—right up until his death—helping community groups. I should note that Stan’s father was also a member of this Parliament and a member of the other place—he was both an MLC and an MLA. Stan was raised in and around the Parliament. His studies took him to university, where he studied accountancy and became a qualified CPA accountant.

Stan not only toiled as the clerk of Cessnock council but also offered his services to dozens of community groups whose books needed auditing each year, as required under various Acts. Stan would give his time to those community groups and there was never any consideration or thought of him receiving a dollar or a cent for his countless hours of work. Stan did this for some organisations for almost 60 years, and he was the auditor for dozens of other organisations for well in excess of 40 years. He volunteered to serve various community groups for more than 40 years—that was Stan Neilly. Barely a week would go by when Stan was not auditing the books of one, two or three community clubs. We know, having been involved in various social clubs, that sometimes the person who takes on the role of treasurer is not necessarily the most qualified or skilled for that role. Sometimes they are just the last person to step back. Reconciling the books of any community group or organisation can be difficult at times, but Stan gave of his time tirelessly.

However, that was not the only string to Stan’s bow. He also spent countless hours supporting disability groups in our area, making sure that they had the transport options and services they needed. Stan worked with other community-minded members to establish our own local registered training organisation, to offer some of the facilities, services and courses that our local TAFE did not. It operated for somewhere in the vicinity of 40 years before it was wound up early in the term of this Government, which decided not to fund organisations like that any longer. Stan also worked for and assisted senior citizens’ community transport groups. He spent some time at the local showground and helped keep it afloat, making sure it was running well and, indeed, assisting with the bookkeeping during his earlier days. Stan had an enormous brain and a great capacity for numbers and figures and for making the difficult look incredibly simple.

As I mentioned, Stan spent some time in this place. He was elected for the first time in 1981, and served from 1981 to 1988. Unfortunately, he was swept out as Nick Greiner came to power. But Stan was not swept out because of anything he had done; it was the very unpopular Barrie Unsworth gun laws that had been introduced by the Labor Party, which was about to get tipped out of power. Folklore goes that countless people approached Stan on the street, and even at the polling booth, to say, “Look, Stan, we are really sorry, mate. We are really, really sorry. We love you. You are fantastic. But we cannot vote for a party who is introducing these laws.” To his credit, Stan continued to be the patron, supporter and associate of many gun clubs in my local community. He was re-elected in 1991, and served here until 1999. Stan was struck down early with polio as an 11-year-old. Towards the end of his life he was frustrated with anti-vaxxers who will not adhere to modern medicine advice. He was a champion and a great, great man. That word sometimes gets overused, but not in this case. Vale, Stan Neilly.