Mr COULTON (Parkes—Opposition Whip) (16:42): I’d like to bring to the House’s attention the incredible achievement of Menindee grazier Brendan Cullen, who just this week has swum the English Channel. What’s amazing about Brendan’s achievement is that he did all his training in western New South Wales, in the Menindee Lakes. He started this process some years ago, but he hasn’t been able to fulfil it till now because of COVID and the travel restrictions. In the drought the Menindee Lakes system shrank back to the smallest lake, Copi Hollow, but there was sufficient water there for him to train in. He has finally joined that very, very exclusive club of people who have actually swum the English Channel.
I haven’t personally met Brendan—I’m looking forward to doing that—but I do know that he was motivated to start swimming because he wanted to find a way to manage his mental health. It can be pretty grim out there; it hadn’t rained for three or four years in western New South Wales, and he found that swimming was of great benefit to his overall physical and mental health. As a result he became an ambassador for Lifeline Broken Hill, an organisation that I’m very familiar with, which provides wonderful services to the people of the Far West. In his swim, Brendan carried the mantle of Lifeline. By doing that, he highlighted the issues around the importance of mental and physical health wellbeing. He also highlighted that Lifeline does such a great job in Broken Hill servicing the Far West.
For an extraordinary story—someone who started training in the middle of the worst drought on record in the Far West, training in the Menindee Lakes system—I have to say his last couple of months training have been rather different. The lakes are actually at 100 per cent now, and the countryside looks magnificent. Brendan used those systems, and I believe he did some saltwater swimming in Port Phillip Bay towards the end of his training. On behalf of me and the Australian parliament, I’d like to recognise Brendan Cullen for the great job that he’s done.