In the autumn of Hobart April 1969, Vanessa Goodwin was born. The only child of Edyth and Grant Goodwin.
My father was one of the first to visit new mother Edyth to celebrate the arrival. In another maternity ward across town, I was enjoying my first days on earth.
From that day on, our lives have been closely connected.
And like everyone here today, and in our close community, I am heartbroken Vanessa’s life could be cut so short.
For Vanessa Goodwin was a very special person. Kind, clever, and dependable.
A close and loyal friend to many, at the school she loved.
A bright spark to be around at the University of Tasmania, where we both studied Arts and Law, though where a lecturer at the time, one Kate Warner, would no doubt recall our academic achievements bore little resemblance.
On graduating, Vanessa took on the much coveted role of Associate to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, the Honourable Sir Guy Green. Someone she held in the highest regard as a mentor and an inspiration, and who she later followed to Government House to work for as his research assistant.
She then travelled further afield to England, and while I was there battling it out in the courts of Wiltshire, she was gaining a Master of Philosophy in criminology, at the University of Cambridge.
Vanessa returned to Tasmania and commenced what was a somewhat unlikely spell with the Department of Police and Emergency Management; initially a three month appointment, it lasted nearly twelve years, and Vanessa loved working in research and policy around the causes of crime, putting theory into practice.
And while I was then working in our courts trying to save people from a stretch in Risdon Prison, Vanessa spent hours in cells with many of its inhabitants, finding out first hand why they’d got there, and working out what can be done do to prevent it happening in the first place.
A very innocent-looking young Vanessa, on the inside, interviewing hardened convicted criminals, was indeed an intriguing image; but it was serious and important work that she was committed to, an passionate about, throughout her working life.
But even while working, an avid appetite for learning remained, and Vanessa was also able to complete a PhD at UTas, coincidentally under the supervision of Professor Kate Warner and Professor Rob White – and she became Dr. Vanessa Goodwin.
It was around this time Vanessa and I formed a support group for the children of over-the-top parents – I hasten to add, certainly not Grant or Marian – but I refer of course to the hilarious but often embarrassing double-act that was Michael Hodgman and Edyth Langham. Themselves, both long-term friends with a great love for life, the Liberal Party, horse racing, raucous partying and outrageous antics.
Not always easy for Vanessa and I, and we would count the times we were told that we weren’t a patch on our two colourful parents.
But it was with their enthusiastic support that we both eventually chose to run for election, in the great seat of Franklin.
It took Vanessa three attempts to win a seat – a reflection of her commitment and determination to serve in our Parliament.
Though it was as the Member for Pembroke, Vanessa was elected in 2009 receiving over 50% of the votes after the distribution of preferences.
She immediately became a vital part of the small Liberal Opposition team that I’d not long been leader of.
Very close bonds were formed in what was, after some tough years in Opposition and a lot of hard work, to become a much larger team that in 2014 became the new Tasmanian Government.
Vanessa was an obvious choice to be our Attorney-General, and Minister for Justice, Corrections and the Arts. Portfolios that she embraced with passion.
She was also Leader of the Government in the Legislative Council, and typically exceptionally in that important role as well.
And all this amounts to a massive workload, with enormous pressures. But she took it in her stride, and typically delivered with composure, skill, and the respect of all her Parliamentary colleagues.
For those of us in the ‘House of Commons’, we were often a little bemused at the close connections she struck with her other ‘team’ - the Members of the Legislative Council. No matter their political persuasion, Vanessa had a great affection for them all, and managed to hold their affection and respect while fearlessly advancing the government’s agenda.
And all the while managing to find the time to be a very active part of her electorate - the community - she loved. A true local member.
She was dedicated to the loyal staff in her Ministerial and Electorate offices, and they to her.
And she was to me, a very close confidante; the calm in a crisis; remarkably dependable… not necessarily always the case in our line of work, it was always so with Vanessa.
And so it was, that I couldn’t help but notice a Cabinet meeting early last year when Vanessa was unusually quiet. And I’d received reports that Vanessa was not quite on her game during a media interview.
Something was wrong, and we soon learned that Vanessa was seriously ill. It stopped our Parliament in its tracks, it stunned our community.
It shook us to the core, and we’ve carried our concern for her every day since then.
True to her word, she fought it with everything she had.
She courageously declared publicly that she would make the most of the time she had left.
And she did. Traveling to visit old friends; watching her beloved Kangaroos; attending local events; keeping a very close eye on the Parliament and the community she loved.
Supported by a very close group of family, friends, and wonderful medical staff.
She fought with dependable courage, dignity.
But it was - on all days - Election Day 2018 that we would lose her.
In a way that not even Edyth nor Michael might ever have dreamt up, we said goodbye.
And today, our State says goodbye and thanks to our dear Vanessa.
Rest in peace.