This Thursday morning a funeral mass for John Kobelke will be held in Our Lady of The Rosary Catholic Church in Woodlands. That will be the celebration of the life of a quiet but substantial servant of the WA community. How well appreciated he was is evidenced by the extraordinary numbers of messages in the media on his passing.
I have known John since university days. He was then a serious student with a deep sense of commitment to public service. He was a joyful man but never frivolous. From then until his passing a man of whose presence you were aware. As a young educator he spent some time as a teacher and in the government system of the newly emerging Papua New Guinea nation.
He returned with his commitment to our education system as a teacher but he was essentially a man of policy. Shortly prior to entering parliament he was an executive officer in the Cabinet Office, Department of Premier and Cabinet. He was elected to WA State Parliament in 1989 and remained to 2013. In that time he was on the Labor Party front bench in Opposition and Government. He was Parliamentary Secretary to Cabinet in the Lawrence Government. He held a large array of portfolios in the Gallop and Carpenter governments. These included Labour Relations; Employment and Training; Consumer and Employment Protection; Police and Emergency Services; Sport and Recreation.
He was a man of the House. At times managing government and opposition business with heavy committee work when not on the front bench.
There is a cliche in politics and sport – that to say someone has “a pair of safe hands”. John Kobelke infused that cliche with meaning. Though a committed political partisan he was a man without stridency and blinkered vision. He radiated intelligence, calm and integrity.
He passed too young of an illness. He deserved a longer life and retirement and his family deserved having that too. Deepest sympathy to his wife Stephanie, children Simon, Carl, Andrew, Hope (daughter in law), grandchildren Harrison and Kate.
He will rest in peace.