Frank ropes the boys in

by Chris Griffith
Published 4 February 1996 in The Sunday Mail


my face


Two of Townsville's most experienced abseilers recently found themselves caught in the Mundingburra campaign seven stories high outside the city's Suncorp plaza sky scraper.

Cal Campbell, 35, and Mark Gommers, 34, yesterday said they received the surprise of their lives as they were abseiled down the building cleaning windows.

When they reached the seventh floor, they noticed the smiling face of the Liberal's Frank Tanti beaming out through a window.

Cal is a former navy diver who runs a high rise exterior building maintenance service in Townsville.

Mark is a former member of Australia's crack Special Air Service (SAS) regiment, an avid outdoors adventurer who teaches rock climbing and abseiling to Townsville locals, corporations, and tourists.

In his spare time, Mark works with Cal cleaning the outside windows of city sky scrapers.

Not one for missing an opportunity, on spotting the pair Mr Tanti invited the two workers to climb in for refreshments -- a typical vote-seeking exercise you might say, except that this happened in late November, well before the Court of Disputed Returns called the by-election.

At the time Mr Tanti was working as a development officer for Liberal Senator Ian MacDonald, who has an office in the high-rise Suncorp Plaza.

Mr Gommers said Mr Tanti seemed a genuinely hospitable bloke, a man keen to find out all about their window cleaning operation.

"We came through his window to use an office to re-anker our ropes for the next stage of the descent," he said.

"There were around four people in the Liberal Party's office and Mr Tanti personally approached us and offered us coffee, tea, and cake.

"He was very interested in what we were doing, and commented how the gleaming windows brightened up the office.

"He even wanted to know what chemicals we had in our buckets - the girls in the office just laughed."

Mr Tanti is famous for his "nice bloke" image, for door knocking and dropping in on the residents of Mundingburra.

Yesterday he said he had door knocked 5,500 houses during the state and by-election campaigns.

But did this down-to-earth encounter between Mr Tanti and the climbers convert them to the Liberal Party's cause?

Mr Gommers said the cuppa and cake by itself may not have clinched his vote, but it made him think a lot about what Mr Tanti was offering throughout the campaign.

"I guess we warmed to him because he was approachable and genuine."

Mr Campbell said Mr Tanti seemed such an easy-going bloke.

"A lot of people aren't prepared to give you the time of day, but he was. I've got lots of time for people who've got lots of time for me."