House debates

Thursday, 14 May 2020

Constituency Statements

Kelly, Hon. Dr Michael Joseph, AM

10:32 am

Photo of Mark DreyfusMark Dreyfus (Isaacs, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Attorney General) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise to pay tribute to a great Labor member, a great Australian and a great friend: Mike Kelly, the retiring member for Eden-Monaro. As members here know, just before we returned for this session of parliament, Mike announced that he was retiring from politics as a result of health problems sustained during his service to our nation. I, like so many of my colleagues, am very sad to see Mike leave. I will miss his wise advice, informed by the incredible experience he brought to this place following his 20 years of service in our defence forces. That included service in Timor-Leste, Somalia, the Balkans and Iraq, where Mike's commitment and ability led to promotion after promotion until he retired as a colonel and took up a different kind of fight here in this place.

I think it says a great deal about Mike's character that, having served our nation for two decades in the military, Mike then volunteered to again serve his community and his nation here in the national parliament and that he did it in the most difficult way possible by standing in a marginal coalition-held seat. It's a testament to Mike's standing in his community that he did this not once but twice, and the second time became the first member in almost 50 years to hold Eden-Monaro in opposition.

Mike's hard-won experience in the Army, his intelligence and his deep humanity have been clearly evident throughout his parliamentary career, most notably in relation to matters of national security. I'm pleased that all sides of politics have recognised his authority in this sphere and shown due respect for Mike's views, particularly in the vital work of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security, in which Mike and I have long served together.

When Labor was last in government, Mike distinguished himself in five parliamentary secretary portfolios and as Minister for Defence Materiel. Mike's unparalleled experience and firsthand understanding of how policies work in the real world, including the impact they have on real people, added immeasurably to policy development and implementation in both the Labor Party and this parliament. Our country is better and more secure for having had the benefit of Mike's many contributions as a member of this parliament. I'm going to miss Mike's wisdom, his good humour and his friendship in this place. On behalf of the Australian Labor Party and of all members of this parliament, I wish Mike, his wonderful wife, Shelly, and all his family the best for the future.