Thursday, 17 February 2022
There is something to be said for speaking from the heart but also speaking without notes. But if, in your final speech to the parliament, you omit to thank your own daughters and mum, there is something to be said for grabbing some notes and doing it properly! So, for the first time since 2011, I confess there's a very, very important prompt sheet—which, I assure you, has been put together by me, but there has been some oversight.
I wanted to recognise—as I didn't, because I completely lost my way in talking about my wife's incredible journey to this country—my 13- and nine-year-old daughters. Sophie is this remarkably empathic young leader that I wanted to refer to in my final speech. She works so hard just to be good at everything she does, and already, at her age, she is starting to make these tough choices about what she can and can't do, to try and not raise ridiculous expectations—as we often do on teenagers. Isobel, at the age of nine, is delighting us with determination, resolve and insistence on process and fairness—particularly when dad doesn't show it! She just drove past the ASIO building this week and said: 'Dad, is that the spy building? I want a job there. Can you get me a tour?' That's a challenge to the minister!
We all have parents who brought us to where we are, but the particular story with my mum and dad is that they fell in love and went to the far corners of the earth, as we knew it, in the 1960s, which was to Hobart—no offence to Tassie!—and then to the tropical island of Bougainville, and then to the Papua New Guinea highlands, one of the most remarkable places on the planet. Dad took me under the shadows of Mount Giluwe and taught me survival skills—which sometimes came in handy in this building! I learnt how to hunt birds using bows and arrows, with arrowheads made of possum glenoid processes to hunt a bird without damaging its plumage—something that I haven't done here in Australia with our indigenous species, you'll be relieved to know.
Obviously, my dad's career went from being just a local councillor and giving it a go, and winning, when he didn't expect to, to joining the Joh for PM campaign, to being on the National Party Senate ticket with John Stone, and of course then to being a Liberal—mostly in opposition—state MP for a decade. I loved doorknocking for him and learning a bit more about issues that, as a young medical student, I never would have otherwise. And, as you would all know, as anyone in this building knows, those conversations around the table are so important. I remember what that great poet Robert Frost said, when he talked about two paths you can take in life:
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
And life is a series of choosing paths. My dad never got a formal education, but he had an incredible journey that was captured in two beautiful novels in the brief period he had between retirement and falling into the thicket of Alzheimer's and Lewy body dementia. We have a story that's autobiography but also probably the only firsthand account of the life of a shearer in Australia, because dad wrote notes and kept a diary. My lovely sisters, Susie and Jules, are sharpshooters. They're fun, and their husbands and partners are incredibly hardworking. One of them lives in Portsea, and, if that isn't heaven, you can certainly see it from there. And Julie and Simon live in my ancestral home, the Sunshine Coast, where they run a strata building as part of the tourism sector.
Just to conclude, I want to mention some people in my electorate: in the transport sector, Phil, John and Caitlin Richards; Jennifer Parsons; and Chris and Ginni Anderson. Chris is an absolute visionary. Dawn, Scott and Craig Hogan have the only family owned pub in my electorate. I also want to mention Lynette and Doug Barton; Rob Jones; Jason and Kath Bradley; Jan Goetze; David Paterson; Albert and Lyn Benfer; Bill Stoddart; Warren and Julienne Pryde; Steve and Selina Lambourne of SS Signs; IGA's Tyrone and Leanne Jones; Brian and Esti Seiberts; Damien Smart; Ian Neil; Jon McCarthy, in the law; Bruce Durie; Steve Gibson; Victoria and Aaron Meyers; Rebecca and Justin Young; Susie Tafolo.
I also want to mention my mentors, Don and Wendy Seccombe, Don being a former cricketer and mayor; Bill and Jeanette Vaughn; Ron, Matt and Mike Loney; Dan and Jacqueline Rigney, at IGA Alex Hills, famous for taking on a thief with a flamethrower; Mark Jones; Aunty Margaret; Uncle Norm Enoch; Dale Rusker; Kate Adams; Nat Manzoni, on Straddy; Darren Cole; Milly, Dave and Sam Nielsen; the tooth fairy Stephanie Roper; Debbie and Michael Leong; Dr Luke Katahanis; Pat and Sue Gaye; Ryan and Jess McCann; Todd and Emily Howard; Steve and Emily Baxter; Perminder and Julianne Thind; Rohit Pathak; Mary Gibb, in hospitality, such a tough path they've had; AITC's Mark Hands; Louise and Shane Peters; Brett and Melissa Webster; educators Dr Lyn and Bob Bishop; Dave Goodwin; Mick and Ruth Bentham; Jason Goodwin; Mick and Moira Goodwin; Steve and Cheryl Lawie; Tanya and Jarrod Bonney; Wolfgang Nespor; Paul and Cherie Luxton; and Mel and Janna Price-Jones. They bit off more than they could chew, chewed like hell and made it happen.