Senate debates

Thursday, 26 June 2008

Valedictory

6:26 pm

Photo of Natasha Stott DespojaNatasha Stott Despoja (SA, Australian Democrats) Share this | Hansard source

I promise this will be a brief contribution. I feel a little remiss in not having acknowledged individual or specifically or indeed in more detail the contributions of other departing senators. Tonight I want to briefly acknowledge three particular female friends in this place with whom I have worked particularly closely. I am not going to attempt to revisit my valedictory or even to reflect on all senators or indeed my party. I have done that to some extent, and it is also too hard to talk particularly about colleagues and the things that we have been through. I am also standing up in a blatant attempt to prevent Senator Rod Kemp tabling the men of the Senate calendar, as he has threatened to do! If I have to, I will filibuster as my last show of defiance in this place.

Seriously, I cannot endeavour to pay tribute appropriately to all departing senators, and of course those include former Senator Robert Ray. He will forever be held in high esteem by me, not because of his extraordinary knowledge of the processes of this place but simply because he referred to me once as Princess Leia—and therefore he is good. I am sorry to say that it did involve him referring somewhat derogatorily to someone else as Jabba the Hutt, but that is not the point. I digress, Madam Acting Deputy President; you see: you give a departing senator the floor and we could stay here all night. I do not know but I think this is perhaps a form of denial.

I cannot do justice to all departing senators. I did salute or pay tribute in a general sense to them last night, but tonight very briefly and very quickly, given it is Senator Ruth Webber’s night, I would like to say to Ruth—through you, Madam Acting Deputy President—I had a wonderful time working with you on the stem cell bill. I acknowledge your involvement in that was not always given a high profile, but you were the person who was brave enough, resolute enough and progressive enough to say, ‘I will put my name to this bill,’ and then, not just in name only, you did the work, you did the hard yards and you understood the legislation. I guess we would have liked it to have been a cross-party bill—because we knew it was going to get through, didn’t we?

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