House debates

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Parliamentary Representation


4:47 pm

Photo of Tony WindsorTony Windsor (New England, Independent) Share this | Hansard source

'Slow delivery,' Bob said! I am sitting with Joe, and we are reliving some of the moments of the negotiations that went on during the 17 days. He was telling a story about how he could not pick how I was travelling or where I was going, and about how, one day, Bob was berating someone else across the table. Sorry to pick on you, Bob! And I said: 'Joe, if I ever write a book, it will have nothing to do with Tony Abbott and Julia Gillard. It'll be about the moments of the hung parliament and the antics of Bob Katter during those 17 days.' And I think there are bureaucrats—Wayne, you would know quite a few of them—who may well want to put a chapter in!

I am sorry to have held the House for so long. In conclusion, I had, obviously, supporters right across the electorate. Supporters are critical to all of us. I have in the chamber today Stephen and Helen Hall, who have been with me right from the start. Peter Wakeford is not here; he has been my patron. Les Dow is here, and thanks, Les, I really respect our friendship and your involvement. Peter Pulley, who is in Tamworth. Helen Tickle, Wally Franklin, Andrew Fuller from Inverell, Grahame Marriott also from Inverell, and Terry Doherty. And there are many, many others who are out there who have been incredibly supportive over the years.

This is where it now gets rough, I suppose. To my family, to my wife, Lyn, who I was in kindergarten with—probably time to move on! I am protected by privilege! Thank you for all of the work you have put into this job as well. I apologise for some of the vitriol that you were exposed to at the start of this parliament. That is our job, not our family's. We will spend a bit more time picking up sticks than we have in the past, and you'll have to do your share too! Thank you for everything you have done for our family.

Kate, who is sitting next to Lyn, is here. Thanks, 'Nut', for all your work. I will not tell them how old you are now, but you were seven when I first went into parliament. Kate is getting married to Andy later in the year. Our elder son, Andrew, who is 31, is running the farms and doing an extraordinary job. That is one of the things I want to do: go and spend a bit of time annoying him and maybe tidying up a few little sticks here and there. He is getting married to Hannah later in the year, and we have a little granddaughter, Matilda, as well. Tom, who is 21, has never known me as anything other than a politician. I will take him to Africa to have a look at the animals.

If anybody has shown a lead for me, it has my mother, who is still alive. She is nearly 96 and very good of mind. My mother-in-law, Betty Cross, has been extraordinary as well. My mother lost her husband when I was eight. Her capacity to withstand hardship and operate a farm business at a time when, because of intestate issues, the capacity to borrow on an asset was not available until the youngest son turned 21, is a great credit to her tenacity and also to my father, who had been killed in a tractor accident. She is still very strong of mind and she is aware of what is happening.

I think we all learn from our parents, and one thing that I learnt as a child from my mother was that all people are the same. There was no racial or religious talk or chatter in our house about the 'station' of people. It was not until I got to university that I started to recognise that some people thought they were better than others. I think in the political process we really need to home in on that. Everybody deserves appropriate representation. That is the job, obviously, of us and our electorate offices. But I do thank my mother for setting that stage, in a sense. She worked hard and she raised three boys, but the great legacy that I take from her is that I do not see people in shades or colours. I see them as people that deserve to be treated as people.

I have this saying: the world is run by those who turn up. We turn up. We have to make sure that others who may follow us want to turn up. I have great concerns personally about the vitriol, the short-term negative issues that are pushed, the fear campaigns. I am not accusing one side or another. It is out there in our political world and it is something that we should have a very, very serious think about, because democracy is fragile—it does not just go on and on, and if people lose faith in it this country will suffer the consequences.

There is a fellow lying pretty close to death, I think, in South Africa. We should reflect on the efforts that he went to to create the circumstance where people could have a vote, where people could actually try and have some impact on their own futures. I think that is something that we all need to do.

In terms of the great tragedy of this parliament, and I look at Judy and Russell in relation to this—not that they are the cause of the tragedy. Russell! One story. I was in Peel Street in Tamworth at the Country Music Festival—that great event that you will all attend next year; or once you get rid of me you will not go near it, but it is a great event. I was wandering down Peel Street and this fellow came up to me and said, 'My local member?' and I said, 'Yes, and proud to be so,' and I shook his hand. I had no idea who he was. I started talking to a couple of others and he was praising me and the job I was doing. I thought, 'This is the sort of thing we all should hear.' I said, 'Thank you very much; it is hard work.' Anyway, he wandered off. Then he came back about a minute later and said, 'It is Russell Broadbent, isn't it?' He has been accused of being 'that filthy Tony Windsor!' So I said to this guy, 'No'—and he looked at me, then he went: 'Oh, you're just joshing!' and walked off.

But the tragedy of this parliament, if there is one, is the refugee issue. I think we are all guilty. Let's hope that we can do a bit better across the political divide on that issue. There is no need for the circumstances. There are ways through this. I encourage all members of this parliament and future ones to really have a hard look at that and try to remove some of the fear tactics that have been used.

I have probably missed things, but I thank the House for having me over these years. I have really enjoyed this work, but I do not want to love it to death. There are other things I need to do. I congratulate all those people who are leaving the parliament. I really do thank for their company Rob, the other crossbenchers and all of the people I have been involved with over the years in various committees et cetera. I particularly thank my family and friends. I notice Tim Duddy from the Liverpool Plains up there as well. He had an enormous influence on the water trigger issue. You would know him, Tony! Thank you to all those people who have taken the time to be here today. May God bless you all.


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