18 July 2017

The Passing of a Tharwa Icon

| Mark Parton MLA
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Jeremy Hanson and Val Jeffery

Jeremy Hanson and Val Jeffery.

There will never be another Val Jeffery. They just don’t make them like Val anymore.

The ‘mayor of Tharwa’ was a straight up and down, tell it like it is, no nonsense country bloke who advocated strongly for his community for decades. I was deeply saddened by his passing today for so many reasons.

For me, Val was one the strongest remaining links to the old Canberra. He represented the mountains and the trees as much as he did the people of Tharwa.

I live in Bonython, about 12kms up Drakeford Drive and Tharwa Drive from the Tharwa General Store. I would often the ride the bike from my place to Tharwa and then stop for a chin-wag with Val about anything and everything. We’d talk about the weather, about the bushfires…more about the weather, then politics…some more about the weather and then I’d hop on my bike and ride back to town.

He’d get fired up about the issues that riled him but he was never short of possible solutions to each and every one of them. He didn’t despise those who didn’t share his view, but more felt sorry for their lack of intelligence for not coming around to his position.

When I ran as an independent in the 2008 ACT election, I was partly bankrolled by the late Jim Murphy as was Val. We attended a number of functions together and I was always fascinated by Val’s outlook on electioneering.

“Are you doing any doorknocking Val?”

“No bloody way Mark. People don’t want this face knocking on their door. Everyone knows who I am and if they don’t want to vote for me I don’t think it’s up to me to convince them otherwise”

History shows that Val Jeffery did exceptionally well in the primary vote department in 2008 but didn’t quite get enough to be elected under the Community Alliance banner. It was similar story in 2012 as a Liberal. When Zed skipped across to the Senate in 2013, Val narrowly missed becoming an MLA on countback and then finally entered our parliament a year ago following the departure of Brendan Smyth.

I thought it was a very special gift for this man who gave so much of his life to his community to get a brief stint in the Assembly as an elected member. He will surely always hang on to the titles of ‘oldest elected member’ and ‘shortest parliamentary tenure’.

When you search Val Jeffery online you end up with the Wikipedia post which lists him as former Liberal politician. That will never truly represent who he was. He ran the Tharwa General Store for more than 60 years and was captain of the local bush fire brigade for over 40 years. They’ll be laughing and telling stories about Val down south until well and truly after the cows come home. And I’m sure there’ll be many tears too as that little community comes to terms with the loss of an icon.

Don’t you dare utter a bad word about Valentine Jeffery in Tharwa because they love him and they always will.

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Popped into his store a few times in the 90-s for a pie after a bike ride. Nice bloke. Vale Val

I have stopped off a few times to peruse the second hand books and other things, and buy an ice cream. Bought many books there. Have a pile of them sitting behind me as I write this. Val was always there, until the last few times, when I discovered someone else serving. The books were also cheaper each visit as though they were attempting to get rid of them, so I guessed an era was soon to end. He will be missed in Tharwa. I wonder what now for the shop and pub.

I popped into his store a few times for a hot chocolate while bike riding and had the odd yarn about bush fires and the like. I thought I was anonymous to him, until one day he commented “bought a new bike have we?” Amazing man who will be missed by everybody who ever had the good fortune to have met him.

I remember Val in the general store in 1970 as a kid riding my bike. You never had to lock up your bike there or worry about it being vandalised. You always felt safe with him around. Even when I drove my car there as an adult in 1987 there was still that link to the old Canberra in the general store. Thanks Val for always being there and making Canberra a kinder, gentler place for a lot of us.

niven said :

Well said Mark !
And let’s also remember his persistent and successful fight to save the Tharwa Bridge, to the great benefit of Tharwa and all who love to venture south.

So, lets ask the government to rename the bridge the Val Jeffrey Bridge. I can’t think of anything more fitting and after all, we have a precedent already with The Jim Murphy Bridge on the GDE over Ginninderra Drive.

Well said Mark !
And let’s also remember his persistent and successful fight to save the Tharwa Bridge, to the great benefit of Tharwa and all who love to venture south.

Robert of Braddon9:47 pm 18 Jul 17

A nice article, Mark. Val made good the expediency of Brendan Smyth who, unlike Val, continued on the gravy train ride to London doing a non job.

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