House debates

Tuesday, 27 March 2018


Staunton, Ms Donna

5:10 pm

Photo of Sussan LeySussan Ley (Farrer, Liberal Party) Share this | Hansard source

I am pleased to join in today's statements on the death of Donna Staunton. Much of what I would like to say involves associating myself with remarks that have been already been made by the Minister for Health; by the member for Dickson, a previous Minister for Health; and by Catherine King, the member for Ballarat, the shadow minister for health. All of us feel the same way about Donna and Donna's contribution. I was shocked and upset when I learnt that we had lost Donna earlier this year. I knew she wasn't well, but nevertheless this seemed unexpected and particularly cruel.

My own experience with Donna revolves around two things: her bright, shining, charming personality and her care for other people, something that the previous speaker indicated is not always present in those who knock on the doors in these corridors. Donna had the sort of personality where, if you had a meeting with her, you actually felt energised and better for speaking with her. She was a person who gave you energy but never drained it from you. She was a person who came very carefully with requests, with advocacy and with information but never with demands. I can remember meeting her when I hadn't been in the position for very long, and the first thing she said to me was, 'How are you?' She said it in a way that made me know that she was actually interested in the answer and keen to contribute, if she could, to making the circumstances of my life, in that very small moment, more positive.

Again, for those who do the sorts of work that Donna and Strategic Counsel did around here, as my predecessors have said, sometimes there's a little bit of eye-rolling when they knock on the door or we see their name on a meeting paper, but I can genuinely say I never felt that with Donna. She absolutely knew her stuff, and she didn't just sit there and let the people she may have brought—I remember Aspen Medical, the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia and CSL—do the talking as if her role was complete once the meeting commenced. She knew her stuff. She talked about what was possible, what was necessary and what she and they would like to see, but again it was never about making demands. It was never about pushing you into a corner or suggesting that you had no other course of action but to do this particular thing.

Thank you to the Federation Chamber and to the parliament for the statements today. To Maddie and to Jack: your pain will be intense, but I know that in the future this discussion will bring you some comfort. I'm sure it will, even though that intense pain will seem to take a long time to subside. To my very good friend, Michael Wooldridge, who was also Donna's very good friend: I also feel your pain on this particular occasion, and I join with my colleagues in commending these statements to the parliament.


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