Earlier this month I had the privilege of attending the funeral of Melinda Manikas.
She was a Liberal Councillor for Balmain ward in Leichhardt Council. I addressed the Parliament on her fight against cancer and spoke a little about her life. Find the the extract from Hansard HERE
Mr JAMIE PARKER (Balmain) [12.43 p.m.]: Today I pay tribute to the life of Melinda Kim Manikas, nee Mustac, who was born on 22 June 1975 and died on 7 May 2014. I put on the record of the House, the permanent record of this State, her life and her passing. This morning I attended Melinda's funeral at St Augustine's Catholic Church in Balmain. The church was full to the brim with people on both levels—a testament to Melinda's life and her achievements: her colleagues from Westpac and Leichhardt Council, her friends and relatives, colleagues from her husband's work as the Chief Executive Officer of the Institute of Quantity Surveyors and her many friends and supporters from the Liberal Party.
Melinda was born in Canterbury Hospital and died at the too-young age of 38 years. A child of a Croatian immigrant family, she was the mother of Victoria and the loving wife of Michael. I represented the Balmain ward on Leichhardt Council for more than 13 years and I met Melinda during her campaigning for the council elections in 2011. Anyone who met her would have seen her passion for life, and she brought that passion to her commitment for public service. In 2011 she was successfully elected to Leichhardt Council representing the Balmain ward. While she brought exemplary service to the council, her sickness—the cancer that afflicted her body—meant that her participation was cut short.
Melinda wore her heart on her sleeve. She was an energetic, vivacious and—I am sure she would not mind my saying—very stylish woman and she brought a special kind of pizzazz to politics in Leichhardt Council. She had a second chance of life when her cancer went into remission, and she took life by the scruff of the neck and lived it with integrity, honour and courage. I acknowledge the work of the doctors who cared for her, the nurses, in particular those at the Mater Hospital and the Hallwang Clinic and Medical Centre in Cologne, Germany. Politics can be a very divisive business but Melinda was a witness to the love of community that unites us all. Her commitment not only to the community but to her family was clear for everybody to see.
Today in the church service, which was led by Father John Camilleri, we sang hymns, read from scripture and acknowledged Melinda's life. During the service it was clear to all those present, across all the parties represented in the church, that the life of the individual, the life of those who put themselves forward for public service, is often criticised and under a microscope, but there is a sense of unity amongst all of us. We all share a commitment to public service, to representing our communities and to the life and vitality of our local areas. At 38 years old, Melinda was taken from us far too young. Her commitment to the community was clear in her election: pushing her pram throughout the local community with her young daughter, Victoria, talking to everyone who would listen about her policies and her views on what should be happening in our local community.
Today Melinda's husband, Michael, told us of their love. He first met her when she was just a high school student. When he finally summoned up the courage to ask her out, they went out for a wonderful dinner, where she seemed to eat far more than her small frame indicated, and he wondered how he would ever be able to pay to continue going out on additional dates with this vivacious young woman. But they did, and after five years of dating he realised it was time to pop the question. Today Michael told us how he got down on one knee and sang her a song, and she said yes. Their life together was interrupted cataclysmically by breast cancer.
During a general health check during her thirty-fifth week of pregnancy the lump was found. Melinda's child was induced and was born happy, healthy and well, and her fight against cancer commenced. As I said, she was blessed to go into remission for a short time, but the cancer returned aggressively throughout her body and finally to her liver. She fought that cancer with great courage. Today I take the opportunity to wish her and her family the best. May God bless her and her family, and may she rest in peace.
Mrs JILLIAN SKINNER (North Shore—Minister for Health, and Minister for Medical Research) [12.48 p.m.]: As the health Minister I thank the member for Balmain for his descriptive message about Melinda and her family, and the importance of all of us joining together, as we all do on occasions, especially when we are looking after our local communities. I share the member's heartfelt message to the family and about her courageous fight against this insidious disease. His comments about the wonderful care that Melinda received are reflected by many comments of patients who undergo treatment for cancer. Fortunately these days most people battle and succeed, but for some it is not to be. I hope we all remember people like Melinda for many years to come. I thank the member for Balmain.