Community News

Tribute to Bruce Green

Member for Clarence, Chris Gulaptis has made a tribute to the late Bruce Green in the NSW Parliament last week where he delivered a Private Member’s Statement.

Mr CHRISTOPHER GULAPTIS (Clarence) (19:02:4): Last Friday I attended the funeral of a great mate of mine and a great friend to everyone in the Lower Clarence, and in fact a great mate to nearly everyone in regional New South Wales and Queensland. Bruce Green was farewelled at the Maclean Showground with over 2,000 people attending. Bruce was a cowboy and the most passionate country man I have ever met. The service was a very unique and moving tribute to a rough diamond who had a heart of gold. It was a farewell that John Wayne would have been proud of.

The arena of the showground that Bruce loved so dearly was adorned with timber stockyards, an old timber humpy and a rodeo chute with a yard attached. Forty horsemen and horsewomen sat astride their horses holding Australian flags throughout the service.

His coffin had horses and cowboys painted over it and his saddle and hat lay on top. Bruce was never one to mince words. He called a spade a shovel and if you deleted the expletives from his conversation you would struggle to understand exactly what he said. And his service expressed the way he lived his life—warts and all.

But he touched so many people with his generosity and passion that there was not a dry eye in the showground when they loaded his coffin onto a dray, which was pulled by a draught horse around the showground with the cavalcade of horsemen and horsewomen riding behind with their flags flying in the breeze and the theme from The Man from Snowy River booming from the showground loudspeakers. It is something I will never forget and Bruce is someone I will never forget.

I first got to know Bruce just over 20 years ago when I was Mayor of the Maclean shire and Bruce was a member of the sports council, forever lobbying for more money for the showground. It is something I will never forget and Bruce is someone I will never forget.

I first got to know Bruce just over 20 years ago when I was mayor of Maclean shire and Bruce was a member of the sports council, forever lobbying for more money for the showground, always pushing for more upgrades, more projects, more ways to get people excited so we could pack the showground.

Whilst he was passionate about the showground, he was also a fierce advocate for any sporting body or any organisation that was struggling and needed assistance. He always fought for the underdog and that is why we loved him. Bruce was passionate about his country lifestyle. He loved the agricultural shows, the local showground and farming, but most of all he loved the rodeos.

Bruce was president of the Lawrence Rodeo Committee from about 1982. The committee held a twilight rodeo in Maclean every New Year’s Day. It was a massive event with big name professional riders always in the line-up, the best bulls and horses, and enormous screens to give the huge crowds a close-up view of the action.

There was food and drinks for adults and kids. It was just a magnificent country event and it was all organised by Bruce. Bruce used all his persuasive means to attract riders, get the stock to the showground, deal with council and insurers, get the support of community organisations to help run the event and pack in the crowd. He would talk, cajole, swear and twist arms until he got what he wanted. And the rodeo was always a resounding success.

But it did not just end with the rodeo, because Bruce rewarded all those who helped on the night and those organisations in need, and he would distribute the profits from the rodeo to the community organisations at a barbecue that he again organised. Through the rodeo committee Bruce distributed nearly $1 million to community organisations in the Clarence Valley.

Bruce showed us how to look after ourselves, and he led by example. He did exactly the same with the Maclean Show. He always wanted to bring something new, big and innovative to the local show.

After a visit to the Royal Easter Show in Sydney, Bruce brought The Man from Snowy River to the Maclean Show. He and a bunch of riders rode down the steep embankment at the Maclean Showground, cracking whips in an astonishing display of horsemanship.

This was Bruce at his best—a horseman, a showman, a legend. So it was with disbelief that I heard that Bruce was critically injured by a charging bull at a rodeo in Tamworth only a few weeks ago.

Like everyone else, I thought he was indestructible. The man is gone but the legend lives on.

My sincere condolences to his family. We will sorely miss him.

So long, Bruce.


The text of his speech can be found here