We all meet people in our life, and particularly so when you're a member
of parliament representing all constituents in an electorate, but only a few will stand out and leave a lasting impression that will extend beyond a lifetime. Ronald Keith Ireland OAM was one of those people.
On Monday 24 July 2017, a great life came to an end. Ron Ireland passed away at the age of 90 after a long battle with persistent health problems.
I'd like to pay tribute to Ron for his outstanding community leadership and honour the many great achievements and legacies he's left behind for the people of Cairns, Far North Queensland and beyond.
Born in 1927, Ron started as an apprentice mechanic at his father's garage at the age of 15 before going on to become one of the most influential businessmen in Far North Queensland.
He was a true gentleman, very quiet, private, generous in spirit, community-minded and a great family man with very strong business ethics.
Although Ron wasn't the type of person who would seek public attention, it always managed to find him for his outstanding
work in driving the Cairns economy and inspiring leadership and philanthropy.
Ron was awarded the Order of Australia Medal in 1997 and was named as Cairns Citizen of the Year in 2001.
In 2004, Ron was awarded an honorary doctorate in commerce by James Cook University. Ron was the last surviving director of a company that built Lizard Island resort and was the former chairman of the Cairns Port Authority.
He also played a critical role in raising funds to establish the Cairns Regional Art Gallery.
Ron was a past president, vice president and founding patron of the Far North Queensland Youth Assistance Fund and helped establish the Drug Assistance and Referral Centre and the Mareeba Youth Farm.
Ron was an active member of the Chamber of Commerce and the Rotary Clubs of Cairns and a long-serving member of the Cairns Masonic Lodge.
He also worked as the patron, member and trustee for a variety of other community groups, including the Cairns Professional Game Fishing Association, Cairns International Speedway, Cairns Orchard Society, Cairns Combined Schools' Band and the Endeavour Foundation.
Lastly, I cannot forget the success of Ron's own business, Ireland's of Cairns motoring company, which is now run by his sons Richard and David. The company has amassed some 50 awards in the past 20 years for excellence in sales and service.
Ron leaves behind his wife Marion and five children, Rhonda, Tony, David, Wendy and Richard, 10 grandchildren and a great grandson.
Ron Keith Ireland, you'll be sorely missed, but your memory
will live on forever, mate. Rest in peace.