Alister Henskens portrait
Alister Henskens portrait

Tribute to Geoff Selig

Hearts in the sky

Mr ALISTER HENSKENS (Wahroonga) (17:55): I rise to deliver a tribute to a former North Shore businessman, Geoff Selig, who is one of the best people I have ever known. Geoff unfortunately passed away recently in tragic circumstances in Spain, too young at only 59 years of age. Over a thousand people attended a service in memory of Geoff at Doltone House at Jones Bay Wharf last week, on 27 May 2024. It was a great celebration of an extraordinary life, organised by Geoff's family. Even a legendary no-nonsense character like Geoff was probably impressed as he sat on a rainbow observing proceedings.

The people in attendance were a who's who of Geoff's life and the broader community. Outside of Geoff's family, people in attendance included the Governor-General of Australia, His Excellency General David and Mrs Hurley. In addition, there were many significant political figures including former Prime Minister John Howard; Premiers Gladys Berejiklian and Barry O'Farrell; Geoff's very close friends Brendan Nelson and his wife, Gillian, who flew from London especially to attend; Rhondda Vanzella; Paul Fletcher; Di Woods; and many more people from all of the aspects of Geoff's life that I will refer to. The event had Geoff's old friend Rob Lloyd as master of ceremonies and Lloydie did a great job.

Geoff's parents and his brothers and their children were in attendance. Geoff's brother Paul told us about Geoff's life growing up in Normanhurst, in my electorate, where he attended Normanhurst Boys High School, being elected school vice-captain. Geoff's early life included piano playing, tennis, skiing and camping holidays. Paul and Geoff and their father worked together for many years in the family business, which had many different manifestations over the four decades Geoff worked there, after filling in for a few weeks as a qualified accountant while they recruited a new chief financial officer.

Geoff met his wife, Jane, at Macquarie University when he was studying accounting. Jane and Geoff shared a great and happy life together and produced three wonderful daughters, Steph, Sarah and Amy, who had the most wonderfully close relationship with their father right up to his death. It was hard not to admire the way that his daughters spoke and their beautiful tribute to their father. Even after the end of their marriage, Jane and Geoff had an incredible relationship, holidaying together and being great parents to their daughters. One of the songs that Geoff sang to the girls when going to bed while they were young was The Muppets songRainbow Connection, which Marcus Hurley performed. A rainbow was on the wall of the hospital where Geoff left this world in Barcelona, just a few weeks ago.

Long time friend Craig Karpin spoke of the great times that their group of friends had at university and afterwards, which continued up until Geoff's death. He told some great stories, including that Geoff was a registered Australian tennis professional in his late teen years and at one tournament won the singles and doubles after beating a nine-year-old Pat Rafter in straight sets in the singles final. In Geoff's adult life, he was incredibly successful as a business leader. Matt Aitken, who is the CEO of the IVE Group, shared many stories, including the incredible growth that Geoff was able to drive in gross earnings and staff numbers after the company went public. Matt also explained how the family printing company grew, was taken over by Bluestar Printing, was purchased back by the Selig family and was then floated again as a public company, with Geoff as the executive chair.

Gladys Berejiklian spoke of Geoff's contribution to political life. Gladys served with Geoff on the executive of the Bradfield Federal Electorate Conference [FEC], which is the context in which I met Geoff in the early 2000s, after Gladys had gone to become the member for Willoughby. Geoff and Rhonda Vanzella were very supportive of my membership in the Liberal Party and, although there was no plan, I reflect that it was Geoff who asked me to be part of a secret Reform the Liberal Party group when he was State President of the Liberal Party from 2005 to 2008, after three years as the Bradfield FEC president.

He then appointed me to the party's disputes panel where I made rulings against every group in the party and ultimately, after several attempts, convinced me to become the Federal electorate conference president of Bradfield. Without any of that encouragement, I would not be speaking in this Chamber today, and that says nothing about the way that Geoff supported me since being elected to Parliament. Jeff Weeden spoke about Geoff's incredible philanthropy over the years to numerous causes including the Heart Foundation, the Lysicrates Foundation, led by John Azarias, who also attended the memorial and other major charities. After coming out in late 2014 as a gay man, Geoff became involved in the gay marriage campaign of 2017 and the Pinnacle Foundation which provides scholarships, mentoring and opportunities for the gay community. Those are just some of the remarkable dimensions of the man and his incredible life. We will all remember Geoff. He had a way of improving the life of everyone that he knew. Vale, Geoff Selig.