MANIKA NAIDOO

Mr PEARSON (Essendon)- I rise to remember a warrior, the late Manika Naidoo. I have met some great people in the Labor Party and the labour movement. The truly great ones are those who are of the movement, who devote their lives to living their values and who lift their backs in the fight for what is just. That was Manika. Manika had a quick and curious mind. She was fierce when waging war for something she believed in. She was kind and gentle too. These qualities came from the same part of her core, the part that loved others and hated injustice and prejudice. She wanted to make the world a fairer place, and she wanted it now. This loathing of injustice was an elemental force in Manika’s life, and it guided many of her actions.

Manika was born in South Africa during apartheid. As a girl in Australia she listened to her parents’ accounts of the horrors and daily humiliations there. Nelson Mandela became the little girl’s hero, and as a woman you could see it in everything she did.

I worked closely with Manika before the 2014 state election, when we opposed the east–west link. The proposed tunnel would have cut a concrete swathe right through the Flemington public housing estate, destroying the playground that children on the estate played in and that Manika’s daughter Alia used. Manika was furious and formidable. In the times to come I will remember Manika. I will remember her kindness, her fellowship, her compassion and her strength. The march towards a more just world continues, but the loss of Manika means the road will be just that much harder. Manika, you were loved, you were respected and you were admired, and you will be deeply missed.