Yesterday, in both Houses of the NSW Parliament, a condolence motion was moved for Stephen Bromhead – the former Member for Myall Lakes.
Stephen entered the NSW Parliament at the 2011 election, having joined The Nationals in the mid-1980s from a background of nursing, policing, and the law. His involvement with our Party lasted some 36 years. Stephen was re-elected in 2015 and 2019 before announcing in October last year that he would not be recontesting Myall Lakes in 2023 because of ill health. He passed away in March this year.
Legislative Assembly Speaker Greg Piper welcomed Steve’s widow Sue and other members of his family, recalling his own time spent with Steve and offering his sincere condolences.
The condolence motion was moved in the Lower House by Tanya Thompson – Steve’s successor as the Member for Myall Lakes – and in the Upper House by Bronnie Taylor – the Nationals Deputy Leader. The motion was that the House:
(1) Extends its deepest sympathies and sincere condolences to the family of Mr Stephen Bruce Bromhead, who passed away on 16 March 2023.
(2) Acknowledges Mr Bromhead’s years of service as the member for Myall Lakes from 2011 to 2023, and his roles as Parliamentary Secretary for Regional Housing and Regional Transport and Roads, and as The Nationals Whip.
(3) Recognises with gratitude his contribution to regional New South Wales.
In moving the motion, Tanya said Brommy spent his entire life serving and caring for people. She described him as a passionate family man who often shared stories and happy memories with his staff. She recalled seeing him dressed as a pirate, to the delight of his grandsons. “The vision of Stephen with an eye patch and a toy parrot on one shoulder giving an almighty “Aaarrr” still brings a smile to my face,” Tanya said.
“I feel incredibly grateful each and every day for having met and known Stephen Bromhead. His extensive service to the community leaves a lasting legacy. While he may not be here in person, he sits softly on my shoulder and will always be remembered fondly. I thank his family for allowing us all to share in his life,” Tanya concluded.
Nationals Leader Dugald Saunders described Steven as a man who proudly represented his community and who has left an incredible legacy. “The Nats were a huge part of Brommy’s life,” Dugald said. “He absolutely loved being a part of The Nationals and we absolutely loved him. It is important for everyone to know that he will continue to be loved, remembered and honoured by the NSW Nationals.”
Nationals Member for Coffs Harbour, Gurmesh Singh, said when he was elected in 2019, he quickly learned Brommy was a fighter, someone he could trust, and someone he knew had our best interests at heart. “His memory will continue to inspire all of us in this place and remind us of the impact that one individual can have on the lives of so many,” Gurmesh said. “Brommy, your legacy will live on in the halls of this Parliament, in the hearts of the Myall Lakes community and in the memories of all who had the privilege of knowing you. Rest in peace, mate. Your spirit, dedication and your commitment to serving others will never be forgotten.”
Nationals Member for Bathurst, Paul Toole, described Stephen as a much-loved mate, a friend to all, and a passionate advocate for the people of Myall Lakes. “To all of us he was a beacon of warmth, someone who would actually give us unwavering support. He had an infectious smile and could brighten up the darkest of days,” Paul said. “His laughter echoed through the halls of the Parliament, capturing our hearts and leaving a lasting imprint of joy.”
Nationals Member for Tamworth, Kevin Anderson, entered Parliament with Stephen in 2011, and they spent eight years in adjoining offices. “We spent more time in each other’s rooms than we did in our own.” Kevin recalled an incident at The Nationals famed BBQ on the balcony outside our Party Room. “There was every bovine known to man on this particular plate, with a bit of chicken thrown in as well. Anyway, it caught fire. It was a fair dinkum fire, and we are thinking “shit”—sorry, Mr Temporary Speaker. We closed the lid, but it was still no good. It started coming out the sides. I was at the other end. I looked over the balcony going, “We’re both gone here. We’re both to going to catch fire.”
Brommy yells out, “Turn the bloody gas off, Kevvy.” So, I reach down to turn the gas off and ultimately this thing goes out. Anyway, he is as cool as a cucumber. He picks it up, blows around, does the hand wave and goes, “Well, we’ve got a couple of well done here”—which was just typical. He was always looking on the bright side. “Who ordered the well done?” he said.
Nationals Member for Upper Hunter, Dave Layzell, said Brommy was a big man who made a big impact. He spoke, as did Dugald, about parliamentary life during COVID, when Nats MPs would come together, while still socially distancing, to watch TV and eat popcorn in their offices. “He was the bloke who pulled us all together. The Nationals family came together. It was a tremendous experience to be part of that and for him to lead in that regard,” Dave said. “The people of New South Wales thank Brommy’s family for sharing him with us. The members of The Nationals have enormous respect for Brommy. We thank his family as well. He will be up there no doubt playing in the Lord’s First XV, making sure that he is taking it to the other side and fighting as hard as he can,” Dave concluded.
In the Upper House, Bronnie Taylor described Brommy as a true friend whom she loved, and whose legacy, integrity, and dedication to the cause will always live on. “Brommy protected us all. He was always a great champion of women and a great mentor. He was the first person to stand up if he felt that any of us were under threat or could not do the things we needed to do,” Bronnie said. “His loyalty to his people and to his community was fierce, and it was fiercest of all for his family. He loved the National Party and stood by it because of what it meant to him, to us and to communities but mostly because he absolutely loved where he lived.”
Sarah Mitchell entered Parliament in 2011 – the same year as Stephen. She spoke of meeting him at pre-election media training. “What I picked up from that initial meeting with him was his very dry sense of humour. He was a funny man who made me laugh from the first day that I met him. He was whip-smart and incredibly passionate about his community,” Sarah said. “Even then, as a candidate, he could see the role that he could play to make life better for them. That was a really powerful trait of his that did not change or waver in the more than a decade that he served in the other place.” Sarah spoke to Stephen’s widow Sue. “He loved you deeply and he was so proud of you, as Bronnie said. That was so obvious. Every time he would speak about any of you, his face would light up,” Sarah said. “I know you are all feeling his loss today and every day, as are we. We share in that grief with you. We promise you that we will always cherish the contribution he made to his community, to The Nationals and to the people of rural New South Wales.”
Sam Farraway described Brommy as very much an old school Nat – someone who didn’t tolerate fools (including in his own Party room on occasion) – and someone who was like a father figure to him. Indeed, Sam recalled how he became known as “Brommy Junior” after he and Stephen were photographed at the opening of the Pacific Highway upgrade in the north of the state.
Wes Fang spoke about how Brommy – as he did with so many others – took him under his wing. Wes said when he was elected, mid-term, he also took over the role of Government Deputy Whip. Stephen was the Whip in the Lower House. “Brommy and I sat together at the table, and I tried to learn from him as much as I could,” Wes said. “Everyone is right: He did not suffer fools. But he was so willing to give, if you were willing to learn. That is why all of us have so much love for him, because if you were willing to absorb the stuff that he was prepared to give you, you would become a much better parliamentarian and person.”
Upper House President Ben Franklin, at the conclusion of the debate, said “I ask all honourable members to stand and spend a few moments in silence to reflect on the life of a good man, a kind man and a true gentleman, Stephen Bromhead—Brommy.”