Death Of Santo Nicastri
DEATH OF SANTO NICASTRI
Mr SULLIVAN (Wollongong) [6.41]: I pay tribute to Joe Nicastri, whose given name was Santo. Joe died at Port Kembla District Hospital last Saturday, 15 June and his funeral was held today, 19 June, with a requiem mass at St John Vianney's Catholic Church and subsequent interment in the Crypts of the Sacred Heart at Lakeside, Dapto. Joe was 54 years of age. He leaves a loving wife Angela and daughter Franca. Joe was born in 1941 in southern Italy, where his father owned a small farm. He has one brother, Nick, who also migrated to Australia and lives at Port Kembla. Joe arrived in Australia in 1964 and obtained work as a rigger, first with Electrical Powerline Transmission - EPT - an Italian owned firm that was a vehicle for many people from Italy to migrate to Australia because they were guaranteed employment when they arrived.
Later Joe worked as a rigger with BHP Steelworks at Port Kembla and because of an industrial accident - he was hit by a steel girder at work - was placed on light duties as a storeman. He retired because of health problems about eight years ago. Joe Nicastri was very active in the community and very deeply involved with his church, St John Vianney's at Fairy Meadow, where many of the masses and other activities were carried out in the Italian language. He was a founding member of the Falenese Association which organises a festival each year, the Madonna Rosario Festival. He was very active in the Port Kembla pollution committee and, when he was working, he was an active member of his union. Joe Nicastri joined the Labor Party in 1979 and was a very active member up until a few days of his death. He was an active member of the Fraternity Club which is the Italian-based club at Fairy Meadow in the Illawarra as well as a member of the Port Kembla RSL Club.
The question that could be asked this evening by members of the House is why am I raising this issue about Joe Nicastri? He was an ordinary man who lived an ordinary life and certainly had many, many friends. Joe and his family exemplify in many ways Australia's multiculturalism. Joe Nicastri very openly participated within the community. He was accepted by and worked with people in a whole range of organisations. He was willing to work with people from a whole range of backgrounds, provided only that they participated in the activities of the organisation.
Joe was always willing to help others in the community irrespective of their background. It was very interesting to visit his widow on Monday to find people from Joe's background from the Italian community, as well as from the Macedonian background. When I was there there was an old Australian who would have been freckle-faced and had red hair in his youth. He had called in to extend his sympathy and that of his wife to Angela. This said all the very best things and good things about being a multicultural society. Personally I always found Joe to be something of a hard taskmaster. He supported me in the Labor Party and certainly worked very hard for my election in 1991 and 1995. I knew I was going to get a lesson or a point made when he would lean forward, his eyes open, and start with the comment, "Now listen, Gerry, me boy", with his distinctive Italian accent. If he agreed with something his comment would be, "That's good, that's good." Joe Nicastri became the bane of Southern Copper and the mouthpiece for a whole range of people who lived in the Port Kembla area during the difficulties with that plant and the pollution that resulted. Vale Joe Nicastri. [Time expired.]