Just over a month ago, on 11 October, I lost a friend and mentor, Mark Heffernan — a giant bear of a man with the biggest of hearts. He was loved by his family, his colleagues and his many, many clients, of which I was just one.
Mark began managing my and my first husband Michael Rizzo’s tax affairs as near as we can remember, around 1989, even before our son Carlo was born. It may seem strange to many but I always look forward to tax time. He would greet me with a big bear hug and immediately make or collect me a cafe latte. Then we would launch into our annual catch-up and swap stories about our families, the world and just life. Importantly, he always made me laugh, especially when I invariably forgot to bring all my records. He would call me a week or two later and growl, ‘You won’t get a seat on a toilet, let alone that seat in Parliament if you don’t send me x, y or z paperwork’.
He was devoted to his wife, Donna, and his children Simon, Claire, Madeline, Tim and Stephanie. I especially remember his excitement at son Simon representing Australia in wrestling, and his delight in reducing his work days to enjoy being a grandfather. I loved the stories of his early life, especially working his dad’s newsagency and driving people with disabilities at Turinga in Greensborough while he was at university. Mark’s brother Vin served in this place as the Liberal member for Ivanhoe, but Mark was a Labor man, the preferred accountant for many union members. He was so much more than my accountant. Mark, I will miss you so much. Thank you for being such a great friend.