House debates

Monday, 16 October 2023

Statements on Indulgence

Thomas, Mr Adam

3:29 pm

Photo of Anthony AlbaneseAnthony Albanese (Grayndler, Australian Labor Party, Prime Minister) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise—and my contribution will be followed by the member for Cook—to pay tribute to a great Australian public servant, Mr Adam Thomas. Adam Thomas, in recent times, has celebrated, since we last sat here, 25 years of service as the house manager at Kirribilli House in Sydney. That is an extraordinary effort by any means. When Adam went to begin work, he was clearly a very young man at Kirribilli House under John Howard, and he served John Howard for nine years. John Howard, of course, had Kirribilli House as his primary residence. That was followed by serving Kevin Rudd, Julia Gillard, Tony Abbott, Malcolm Turnbull and Scott Morrison. Mr Howard, Mr Abbott and Mr Morrison had Kirribilli House as their primary residence. But Kirribilli House isn't just a residence; it is a national asset, as is the Lodge, and there we host many international visitors. Most recently, I hosted President Widodo there.

It has been the case that prime ministers from John Howard through to myself have relied upon a fellow who is quite remarkable. He's very self-effacing. I spoke with the member for Cook about this a couple of weeks ago. I offered for Mr Thomas to come to Canberra to be here for this recognition, along with his family. It is typical of Adam that he is self-effacing and didn't want to be here—didn't want a fuss. He appreciated the acknowledgement but wanted to do it watching or listening, which is what he is doing back at Kirribilli House.

He is responsible not just for cooking but for running the management and seeing people coming in and out. There are, of course, security issues that he has to deal with as well. We recently had an open day at Kirribilli House where 3,500 people attended on a Saturday. I know that he is the best of professional public servants as well. I can assure the member for Cook and other previous inhabitants of the prime ministership that he never tells a story out of school. He is someone who I know would have served Scott and his family just as he serves me. He is a remarkable public servant.

There's a photo up in Kirribilli House of the kitchen from the 1950s, I think it is. It has not changed and he has to deal with all of that, but he does so with good humour. It often requires extraordinary hours. He is a great servant of Australia and I thank him. I also thank his lovely family; the nature of it means that quite often he's not home at dinner with them. He serves in a remarkable capacity and I thank him on behalf of myself but also—I think I can be so bold—on behalf of every prime minister from John Howard since, because I know that he has all of our respect and, indeed, our friendship and our thanks.

3:33 pm

Photo of Scott MorrisonScott Morrison (Cook, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank the Prime Minister for the opportunity to add my words to his, and I commend him for bringing this to the attention of the House. Public servants serve in many ways to serve our country, and Adam Thomas certainly is one of those. He has a very special responsibility, as the Prime Minister has set out. As a fine chef, he has cooked for the heads of state, prime ministers and secretaries of state that I was also able to host there at Kirribilli. The one thing Jenny and I are truly grateful to Adam for is that he understood that this was an important public residence, that it was an important part of the public estate and that it had many official purposes, but that it was also a home. Particularly, for Jenny and me and, of course, for Mr and Mrs Howard and Mr and Mrs Abbott, it was where we lived as families. Particularly for my young children at the time, who entered Kirribilli House as primary schoolgirls and left as teenagers, Adam and the staff at Kirribilli always made them feel very safe and very welcome in that place which became our home for that period of time.

To Adam, his wife, Kee-o, and his two now adult sons, we are very grateful for the sacrifices they made for us. They saw that very much as part of their service. I'm not surprised Adam wouldn't want to come and have all the fuss, but it is important that his service to our country is recognised.

Given I'm saying thank you to Adam, it would be wrong of me not to take the opportunity at the same time to also thank Trina Barry, who worked at the Lodge for many years and, unfortunately, wasn't able to continue on in that role after the last election. She served governors-general and prime ministers from both sides of the House. She and Adam, together, made an outstanding team, and I know Adam would join me in praising Trina's service as well.

Thank you, Prime Minister, for bringing this to the attention of the House. The only thing I think Adam and I ever disagreed on was the football teams we followed. I thank him for the many cooking tips he gave me with my curries and for indulging me in regard to the mess that I often made in that kitchen. Thank you, Adam. God bless you and your family.