Senate debates

Wednesday, 3 December 2008


6:12 pm

Photo of Stephen ParryStephen Parry (Tasmania, Liberal Party) Share this | Hansard source

I first met Senator Chris Ellison at the famous Lee’s, before I became a senator. I was a candidate and he was the newly appointed Minister for Justice and Customs. That was the commencement of a great relationship, because I could hear his handcuffs rattling. He had a passion for that particular role. As I am an ex-police officer, we developed a relationship through the justice process. We were both involved in the establishment of the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity, which was Chris’s baby. Chris involved me in that from the very embryonic stages. I appreciated and enjoyed that. Chris, Senator Ferguson indicated that you are looking for a career outside politics. Policing would suit you. You would make a great police officer, a great detective. I think you would be very good there. I am sure there are a few police commissioner vacancies going around the country.

The other aspect about Chris that I really appreciated was getting to know him when he was Manager of Government Business and Manager of Opposition Business. As most people here will know, whips and managers need to relate to each other on a very close and personal basis. Chris and I developed a great relationship through those two roles. We have been able to quickly bounce ideas off each other. When Chris was a minister he used my office as his home base closer to the chamber rather than do the walk from the ministerial wing back here. When he became Manager of Opposition Business, Chris and I were in each other’s offices on a constant basis, as you need to be. Our staff interacted as well with each other as we did in the running of the Senate. I particularly appreciated the wisdom I gained from Chris during that time. Everyone needs a good mentor. I have been fortunate to have a few here, and Chris has been one of them. Chris has really steered me in the right direction in relation to the management of the Senate. I will never forget that, Chris, and I am indebted to you for your perseverance and your guidance.

Finally, I think it is important to acknowledge Chris’s passion. In the last few weeks, as most would know, Chris has been in a position where he has known he will not be returning to us, but he has approached his tasks and his duties with more enthusiasm than senators who have just started. I would have thought he was a new senator rather than a senator exiting. Chris has set a great example. What epitomised that, Chris, was your party room performance this Tuesday. I am not going to breach party room confidentiality and indicate what was said, but, when Chris got up, the entire party room was listening. Chris left his mark on the party room that day. There was no doubt about what his views were, and the resounding chorus after he sat down was, ‘Don’t go; don’t go!’

Chris, it is a shame you are going. I completely understand your reasons. Family is far more important than the family you have here, and I know Caroline and your family will enjoy having you back home. Tasmanians and Western Australians—and probably Senator Macdonald, being from Far North Queensland—have that sympathy for each other in having a long distance to travel to get home. Whilst we experience the same time difference, sometimes longer, in travelling home, you have a time change, Chris, which we do not have to endure. That must be unbearable. I do not know how your body handles that on a constant basis. You have always had our sympathy for that reason. As Tasmanians and Western Australians we are also in isolated states, so we tend to stick up for each other more and unite against some of these mainland states. Chris, I look forward to seeing you on a social occasion again. Take care in your retirement; I am sure that you will be prosperous and your family will enjoy it.


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