Thursday, 13 September 2018
McCain III, Senator John Sidney
on indulgence—It's my privilege to be able to rise to honour the life of service of Senator John McCain, the true heir to the conscience of a conservative. Many people in their addresses to this parliament will recite Senator McCain's biography, but today I offer some short personal reflections. I always believe Senator McCain's unsuccessful bid to become President of the United States was one of the greatest tragedies that ever befell the United States and also the world. He was unashamedly my preferred candidate in the primaries for the 2000 election, and his defeat came with huge consequences for the world. That isn't to take anything away from the successful candidate, President Bush, but the smears and innuendo run by some against Senator McCain's character diminished his standing, so he was not able to live out the full service that I believe could have fulfilled his purpose and mission.
As a relatively spritely and young 26-year-old in the United States in 2006 on a personal holiday I visited the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley in California. I was only newly out of university, rummaging through my pockets for what little money one had to be able to travel, and by pure coincidence the day that I happened to visit the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library was the day that John McCain was speaking there in the lead-up to the forthcoming presidential election on whether he was going to be the Republican candidate. I watched him give an address speaking of hope and opportunity, embodying every component of the optimism that inspires us from the United States, with all of the class and respect that we revere him for. It was one of the greatest privileges of my life to be able to see a man who lived his values in word and deed and in service to the community.
Like everybody else in this chamber, I had the privilege of being able to shake his hand for the first time when he visited our parliament, shortly before his diagnosis earlier this year. What I always respected about Senator McCain was that he was a man who lived his values. He understood what conservatism actually meant. He understood that conservatism embodied civility, not crudeness; grace, not gratuitousness; nationalism, yes, but not nativism; service; and sacrifice. Frankly, many people who may claim the moniker 'conservative' today would do extremely well to listen to his example and learn.
During his recent trip to Australia he got to say his final goodbyes, though it may not have been his intention, to those many people who serve in this parliament and of course to our great nation. When I, like many others, went to shake his hand and pay honour and respect to his service, though a giant in many ways, he had a quiet, humble gentleness, with the empathy and true compassion that is embodied in true conservatism. To Senator McCain we give thanks and as he passes into eternity we say: may he rest in peace.