On the weekend of the 9th of June Australia lost one of its most senior and engaging commentators with the death of Christopher Pearson.
Christopher had been in the public eye in Australia as activist, publisher, editor, speechwriter and columnist for many decades. Well respected across the political divide, he had a sharp and piercing wit and could rightly claim (though he never would) ‘expert knowledge’ across an incredible range of subjects and disciplines.
Notable in the context of this blog was his strident opposition to euthanasia and assisted suicide. Whilst his regular column focussed most often on politics, when occasionally he wrote about euthanasia he was a clear about its errors as anyone might be.
He was also my closest friend.
A bit of a Luddite, Christopher did not take easily to the modern world of computers and I fondly recall many occasions over the years when he would dictate his column to me or my eldest son whilst we dutifully typed away. A few years back he was asked to take part in an online forum on euthanasia with Marshall Perron. Perron, you will recall was chief minister in the Northern Territory when the original Rights of the Terminally Ill Act was debated and passed. I sat with ‘CP’ as he wrestled with the barrage of comments and questions as they appeared on screen. His ‘pick-and-poke’ typing meant that he was forever a ‘half dozen comments behind!
He was a firm supporter of HOPE and our aims and objectives. His encouragement and support over these last three years have been invaluable. When last we spoke I was just done sharing with him some of my ideas and plans of how we can continue to develop the work when we reached his Adelaide home. As he motioned to step from my car he put on his ‘blokey’ gruff voice, smiled, punched me lightly in the arm and said, “Russell, you’re a mold-breaker!” I thought at the time that, if this were true then it was true, to the greater degree, because of his friendship, encouragement and support.
Much more could be said and I imagine will be said about Christopher’s ‘colourful’ life. For the sake of this little tribute, suffice it to say that he didn’t die wondering. He grabbed each day firmly and squeezed it hard for all it was worth.
Those who read him will miss his contributions to the great debates of our time. Those of us who knew him will sorely miss his friendship.