MS TIERNEY (Minister for Training and Skills) (10:39:19) — I rise to honour Joe Pearl. Joe Pearl arrived in Australia in 1953 from rural Turkenagh in County Clare, Ireland. Joe’s Gaelic name, Seosamh ó Seoid, means ‘jewel’, perhaps explaining the family name, Pearl.
Joe looked to Australia for opportunity, bringing with him a lifelong love of learning despite limited formal education.
He did hard work all his life: he was a farmhand then construction worker in Ireland, a fettler laying railway tracks in Queensland, a rigger in Victoria. Joe was a committed unionist in a tough industry, a shop steward in the Builders Labourers Federation defending workers’ rights and safety. Despite a severe workplace injury and three years recovery, the construction industry and fighting for the betterment of his peers remained in his blood.
Joe’s deep belief in the importance of social justice led him and wife Wendy to become active ALP members. Above all, Joe believed in contributing to his community. Joe and Wendy were founding members, and later life members, of the Geelong Irish Society. In 2003 Joe was thrilled to be honoured with a Centenary Medal, recognising his efforts for Irish migrants in building a new life in Geelong while celebrating their culture. With his lovely Clare brogue, his favourite sayings and his warmth and genuine interest in those with whom he was speaking, Joe showed his love for people.
He and Wendy made a happy home in Corio with four children, embracing their extended family.
Joe’s biggest love outside his family and Ireland was greyhound racing, and Joe and Wendy were very successful. Their work saw them become life members of the Geelong Greyhound Racing Club and the National Coursing Association of Victoria.
Joe was a strong and resolute man, but above all a good bloke — a jewel. Vale, Joe Pearl.