Vale Russell Trood


My late mother was Russell Trood’s number one fan, before he even by a flukiest of flukes got into the Senate. Sometime more than 15 years ago, another Liberal Party state convention was coming up and our factional allies in the Sherwood branch in the federal electorate of Ryan (whose internal party politics for decades resembled the Queensland version of Game of Thrones) needed to recruit more members to get more delegates. Rising to the call, I signed up my mum, who while a Liberal voter since she came to Australia was never particularly interested in politics. Hence, I expected her to be just a stack, a paper member, but she actually went to a Sherwood branch meeting soon after becoming a member, where she met Russell who was then the member and one of the leaders of the branch, and I guess she developed a Platonic friend-crush on the future Senator, because she kept on attending those meetings. She always had an eye for a nice guy.

Just about every private obit I’ve read of Russell, who passed away yesterday after losing a battle with cancer, inevitably includes the word “gentleman”. It is a sad statement about politics – or perhaps about life in general – that this quality is now considered so exceptional that it has to be expressly mentioned and underlined. However rare nowadays, Russell was it. But he was more than that, an ever rarer creature – a moderate who was also a decent human being: genuine, loyal, honest, without secret agendas or insatiable ambitions. His political involvement having started with working for the legendary Jeremy Thorpe, the leader of the Liberal Democrats in the 1970s’ Britain, Russell undoubtedly was a man of small “L” liberalism – hence probably his friendly references to Hitler Youth and black-shirted storm-troopers whenever we bumped into each other and he asked me about my Young Liberal circles. Russell also spent his life as an academic, which added another layer of the very unusual in politics and at the same time very endearing unworldliness. He was not in politics for any of the wrong reasons that so many mad, bad and ugly get involve for, and when he was unexpectedly elected as the third Liberal on the ticket from Queensland at the 2004 landslide, he spent the subsequent six years as a Senator being there for all the right reasons too, perhaps the most un-Machiavellian and wonkish member of the upper chamber.

I didn’t know Russell as well as many others who will read these words, but I knew him enough to know that he will be very genuinely missed.