Tuesday, 19 February 2019
As this parliament comes to an end, so it brings a number of members of this House, on both sides of the aisle, who have decided that now is the right time to finish their parliamentary careers. Tonight I'd like to pay tribute to some of these extraordinary people who have dedicated decades of their lives to improving the lives of Australians. Their service and sacrifice cannot be underestimated, nor should it be forgotten.
I particularly speak about Labor members of parliament on this side of the chamber who are retiring. In total, they represent around 95 years of service. I recognise the member for Canberra and the member for Melbourne Ports, and I know they will be giving their speeches a little later, but the first person I want to recognise is a lion of the Labor Party. He is a man who has devoted his life to public service so that working Australians are given a fair go, so that families are given the support that they need to raise their children and so that multinational businesses pay their fair share of tax. He is someone who has spent his entire working life fighting inequality in all of its forms. The man is none other than the member for Lilly, my great friend Wayne Swan.
Wayne gave his valedictory speech in this House to sign off on a career in federal politics, where he's been working day in, day out for more than 24 years. One of the great things about Wayne is that he's the epitome of a marginal seat campaigner—I believe he is one of the greatest that this country has ever seen. He is also one of the longest-serving members of parliament from the great state of Queensland.
Make no mistake, the impact that Wayne Swan has left in this place and, indeed, around the country, will be remembered for many generations to come. He was the Manager of Opposition Business in the House, the Deputy Leader of the Labor Party and the Treasurer of Australia. That came at a time of unprecedented uncertainty in financial markets, which later became known as the global financial crisis. As Treasurer, Wayne steered Australia through when almost every other advanced economy in the world went backwards. In stark contrast, not only did the Australian economy avoid a recession, a feat unmatched in the Western world, but our economy became the envy of the world. Wayne was rightly recognised by Euromoney in 2011 as the world's best Treasurer for his leadership through the global financial crisis, joining Paul Keating as the only Australians to receive this prestigious award. He also served as the 14th Deputy Prime Minister of Australia, under Julia Gillard, and will be remembered for his loyalty and perseverance during very tough times.
Prior to federal parliament, Wayne also helped to lead Labor through the wilderness, working as Wayne Goss's campaign director. This would lead Queensland Labor to victory at the 1989 state election, for a Goss Labor state government. Simply, Wayne shone a shining light on the darkness in Queensland that was the corrupt Bjelke-Petersen National Party government. While he might now be leaving the frontline of federal politics in this place, somehow I believe that he won't be leaving the national political stage. In his new role as National President of the Labor Party, I know that he will continue to fight against inequality in this nation.
Wayne, thank you for your leadership, your guidance and, in particular, your mentorship of new members of this place. I know the member of Kingston is here. She is someone who has benefited from Wayne's wise advice and wise counsel, and, in particular, his support over many, many years. I know his successor, Anika Wells, if she is fortunate enough to have the opportunity to continue his hard work, will continue in that tradition.
The second member I would like to pay tribute to tonight is the member for Jagajaga, Jenny Macklin. After almost 23 years in federal politics, she is the longest-serving woman in the history of the House of Representatives. Jenny will leave a legacy in this place bigger than most. More than that, her legacy will be seen for many years to come through her many, many achievements serving the people of this country. Perhaps most significantly, she was a key driver of and the minister responsible for the National Disability Insurance Scheme, established under the Gillard government. It is for this reason that millions of families, children and carers will be given the support they need to live fulfilling lives. I've seen this firsthand in my community, with families and their children coming up to me and telling me what a difference the NDIS makes to their lives.
The member for Adelaide, in her speech yesterday, commented about her achievements, and I know the people of South Australia will miss her contribution, as will many of us. In her valedictory speech yesterday Kate implored more women to be involved in our national politics. She said:
… do it because you will never regret it, just as I do not regret a single day that I've spent here.
We thank them for their service. I honour them tonight and recognise their contribution to this nation.