Thursday, 30 November 2023
Statements on Indulgence
Borges, Ms Luzia
I want to take a moment to pay tribute to a great Australian, a wonderful human being and a person who has given so much to this place over so many years. After 35 years, Friday 8 December will be Luzia Borges's last day as a member of the Parliament House cleaning staff. Luzia joins us in the gallery today. Luzia is up there with her husband, Marcelo, daughters Isabel and Luzia, son-in-law Raymond and grandson Leon. We welcome all of you as well, and we thank you for giving us your wife, your mum, your mother-in-law for such a long period of time. In the early hours of the morning and late nights, as a result of the nature of the work that is done here, when we depart this place, we come back the next day, and it's pristine, due to the commitment of Luzia as part of the wonderful team who we have here. Her daughter Marianne and her son-in-law Michael are proudly watching at home, I'm told. I should note that Luzia had no idea we'd be doing this today. We invited her for an afternoon tea, which we'll be having this afternoon next to the cabinet room, because she mentioned that her husband wanted to watch a Question Time from the chamber before she finished up. I make this point: that was perhaps not her best decision! But this was, of course, too good an opportunity for us to miss.
This building is a scene that undergoes continual change. Elected representatives average—I'm not sure what the figure is now. I remember, a few years ago, it was five-point-something years in this place. Bear that in mind.
It constantly changes. Staff have a high burnout rate due to the nature of the work, the hours and the pressures of being away from home. Advisors and public servants move around and they move on.
Luzia has been one of those rare certainties, here from day one when the flag first went up on this wonderful, new Parliament House that is, of course, above us; part of the office for every Prime Minister, going back to the great Bob Hawke, performing a demanding job. It's hard. It's physical work every day, yet every day Luzia has such a genuine and joyful presence, a warmth that cheers even the coldest Canberra morning, a light that brightens even the glummest day. There's a magnetism about Luzia that over the years has drawn everyone to want to meet her and to have a chat and have a photo with her, from President Obama to the Dalai Lama. She's got quite a collection.
Whoever you are, she is always up for a chat, although she giggles now I've known her for so long. When I became Prime Minister, she was very formal and always adopts that but treats everyone exactly the same, regardless of their title, just in that great Australian way. And she radiates pride in what she does, the essential work that she has performed for over 35 years to keep this building going to keep our democracy running. I remember—I don't mind saying this as well—as a proud trade unionist, standing up for the rights of cleaners.
In paying tribute to Luzia, we must of course—it would be like talking about Abbott without Costello—mention Anna Jancevski, because whenever you see them they're together. There have been some great double acts in Australian history, but it's hard to think of a more joyful one than Luzia and Anna. They are such a perfect partnership, such a complementary duo. They've always been such a reassuring sight in this place, and once you spot them you feel like everything is as it should be. They've kept the wheels turning in this place and they've always got the job done with pride, with professionalism and with a whole lot of heart.
So I say to Luzia, Parliament House simply won't be the same without you, but I hope you drop in. You would be welcome, I'm sure, in any office right across the parliament. You are respected. We wish you nothing but the best in your richly deserved retirement, with more time with your loved ones. We've got a little present that we'll present in a short while, that I'm told is appropriate for you because you are a great gardener, and I'm not surprised by that at all. You leave this building with our thanks and with our deepest affection and gratitude.
Honourable members: Here, here!
Luzia, I want to say to you thank you very much for your service to this parliament and, most of all, though, your discretion, your friendship and your beautiful nature. Many here and those who have had the honour of serving in the ministry will have seen Luzia—and the double act of Anna—in the corridors. You can have a joke with them. They are wonderful people.
I first came across Luzia over 20 years ago, and we've swapped stories about our children growing up. She's seen my kids grow up in this place. We've always had a conversation about her own children over the years and grandchildren now. I probably can't convey adequately the beautiful nature of this lady and her huge work ethic. She takes a great deal of pride in what she has achieved in this building and in the support of her family over her very long career, but she is a wonderfully natured person.
I wish you all the very best into retirement. I want to say thank you very much to Marcelo, to your three children, Luzia, Isabel and Marianne, and to your son-in-law Raymond, but most importantly to your five grandchildren. I know that they are now your focus. Now that you don't have to put up with Anna anymore, you will be able to concentrate on the grandkids! We wish you every success and good health. It's a wonderful contribution that you've made.
As the Prime Minister said, you go back Bob Hawke's day. You recall fondly the comments from Paul Keating when he told his staff to treat the cleaners with respect. You said that you will never forget that, that it meant a lot to you. You also noted that you like all the PMs, but especially John Howard, who you always try to see when he visits, to give him a hug. The point of relief for all of us is that you've said to us that there will be no book published in retirement! That will be a relief to prime ministers and ministers past and present! You're a wonderful person, with a beautiful, warm heart. We wish you every good health into the future.