Some of our members simply keep under the radar… I wanted to find a picture of Peter on the web – there isn’t anything! How good is it then to get a bit of a deeper insight into the life of one of our Charter Members. Some of us would have known that he currently holds the position of Corporate Solicitor at Suncorp, the largest listed company in Queensland. Some would know that he is a family man through and through. But did we know of his extensive community service, outside of Rotary, with the Catholic Church’s Finance Board, or with the Life Education organisation?
His law career goes back to the early 1980’s, when he was a partner at Rapp Hickey & Morgan on Short Street in Southport. Peter elaborated on multiple projects: One of his major clients, Ron McMaster, was one of the largest Hi-Rise developers on the Gold Coast. A large number of houses in a target area would be bought up (sometimes at outrageous prices, such as a $200,000 house on the land where Bayview Harbour was to be built, for $600,000. Concurrently, public road closures resulted in crown land being converted to freehold. Apartments in the proposed development were sold off the plan, sometimes as far as two years ahead of the completion of construction. 10% deposit would secure a title; the obvious idea was to “flick it on”. Peter recalled one development where there were units that were re-sold as much as 8 times before completion! Profits of as much as $100,000 were realised. And that was before the Capital Gains Tax was introduced. Then, once the building was completed, settlement for all units was to be on the same day! Not just a massive project, also a massive legal job!
On to ‘Family’… He married Helen in their mid twenties and by 1986 there had two boys and a girl, all under the age of 3… Peter recalled with nostalgia when back in those days, the Sergeant would fine him with monotonous regularity for being ‘last in the door’.  Well, having to help organising breakfast and getting the kids to school would explain that!  Our Club Member/Trophy-Maker Barry Manteit (remember him?) even got him a special trophy ‘Just on Time’… Forward to 2010: the two sons married. Another 10 years on and there are 9 grandchildren! “So when they visit, the house is converted into a child care centre”.
Obviously, Peter enjoyed a high level of respect and trust in his church. In the mid eighties he was invited to join the Surfers Paradise Catholic Church’s Finance Board. Its task is to guide the parish priest and make decision on a wide range of finance aspects, including the decision on what to do if a Church – come Community Centre, such as the one in Surfers Paradise was, is to be renovated or whether a new church complex is to be built. Such was the case when by 1986 the new Catholic Church and primary school was built on 10 Hectares on Fairways Drive, opposite the Golf Course. Contrast this with the Broadbeach/Mermaid Beach Church, sitting on one acre on Hedges Avenue: where a 400 m2 block on the other side of the street sells for about $5 Million, do you sell and build somewhere else or stay? Big deliberations, big decisions, an awful lot of footwork.
Finally to Life Education: Peter’s involvement started in 1985. It was started in 1979 by Ted Noffs (of Safe Injection Rooms fame) started the movement. The principle is simple: Prevention is better than cure. Ted convinced two of Peter’s legal clients, Ron McMaster and Brian Ray to establish a Life Education Centre on the Gold Coast, based on the successful model employed in Sydney. A ‘Peppercorn Lease’ was established on Council Land. At the time, in 1986, in excess of $1 Million of work was performed Pro-bono.  Peter joined the Management Committee on establishment in 1987 and 5 years ago was appointed its Chairman. The organisation, which employs some 50 staff,  teaches Nutrition and the importance of healthy activity, Cyber Safety, respectful relationships and advises on legal and illegal drugs, including tobacco and alcohol. A staggering number of some 200,000 children are visited by Life Education every year.  Funding used to come from the Queensland Government – until Labor came to power, when “the tap was initially turned off”. (Luckily, it has been re-instated in recent years.) Fortunately, a benefactor bequeathed $1.2 Million, which was used to establish a ‘Regular Giving’ scheme. Today, they have some 6,300 donors who regularly contribute.
There was of course much more in Peter’s presentation than can be written up in the limited space of a club bulletin. Hearing his outline emphasises the fact that one of Rotary’s overriding concept is Vocational Excellence and Leadership. There is no doubt that Peter has, in his 33 years of membership, indeed lived up to that premise.
Photo above: Peter showed us ‘Healthy Harold’, the 2nd most recognised mascot after Ronald McDonald.