Ron Senior, the last of the two “paper boys”, passed away on 4 October 2021, aged 72.
Ron and his late brother, John, sold papers and magazines for many years from a stand on William St. Lots of barristers and judges stopped by their stand in the morning to buy papers - or just for a chat.
Ron Senior was born in Melbourne in 1948, after the family moved from Hobart. John was 13 at the time. After they finished school, the two of them worked for a time at the Postmaster General’s Office (the forerunner of Australia Post).
In 1986, John saw an advertisement for a newspaper seller. After working in a couple of different locations, John moved into the Courts precinct in the late 1980’s. He stood at a fold-up stand outside the steps of the former entrance to Owen Dixon Chambers East. Ron joined him in 1994.
There then began a long period of friendships with many barristers, judges and other people in the area. Getting the paper from John and Ron was an experience; it was something to look forward to in the morning. These men didn’t sell papers for the money: the commissions they earned were next-to-nothing. They did it because they loved it.
In 2008, Ron issued a press release. It announced the appointment of a Royal Commission to inquire into John’s treatment of him as a co-worker on the newsstand. A Royal Commissioner was appointed. John engaged Senior and Junior Counsel to appear on his behalf. After lengthy deliberations, the Royal Commissioner made an open finding.
If ever you wanted gossip about a barrister, Ron and John were the ones to talk to. They knew a lot about barristers – and judges for that matter.
Both brothers were passionate Footscray – and then Western Bulldogs – supporters. They studied the horseracing form on most days. Ron loved films, especially old Westerns, and he used to be an avid watcher of wrestling.
I always thought that the two brothers would have made a great comedy duo. John as the straight man – the Bud Abbott; Ron, the clown – the Lou Costello. John saw the world largely in black and white. That enabled people to stir him up.
John passed away in 2010, after a long battle with bowel cancer.
Ron returned to the newsstand. Shortly thereafter, unfortunately the news agency shut it down.
A number of barristers kept in touch with Ron, until recently when he went into a nursing home.
William Street is not quite the same without them.
David Gilbertson QC