Senate debates

Wednesday, 3 December 2008


6:27 pm

Photo of Michael RonaldsonMichael Ronaldson (Victoria, Liberal Party, Shadow Special Minister of State) Share this | Hansard source

My friendship with ‘Choofer’ Ellison began in 1993. I cannot call him Chris because I have never referred to him as Chris and I will not start tonight. It was Choofer Ellison back in 1993 and we have remained friends since then. I might just say as an aside that I hope we have made a booking for Lee’s tonight because, after an hour of free publicity, I think they will be flocking down there. They will only go once but they might interfere with our dinner tonight.

I had the pleasure to be part of the parliamentary secretaries shopping group with Chris Ellison in our first term in government. In those days, there was very little recognition given to parliamentary secretaries. Indeed, we used to joke that our staff would ring up industry groups and say that the parliamentary secretary wanted to meet with someone, and they would say, ‘Is your boss too busy to meet with them?’ But we have seen some movement on from then, and parliamentary secretaries are now getting appropriate recognition both in government and in opposition. Choofer was very actively involved in that.

I hope, Choofer, when they are talking about the bastions of the right—and there was reference to Rod Kemp, who very much fits that description—that you do not succumb to the same temptations that he clearly has; the last time Ian Macdonald and I saw him—last Saturday night—he was wearing a skirt. It was at the Melbourne Scots annual dinner, I have to say, so I will spring to his defence.

If you look back at those who have held ministerial responsibilities, there are very few who can boast six ministries and one parliamentary secretary’s job—and all of them done with great distinction and great aplomb. Choofer, it has been a great pleasure for me, in those early days, of course, in an entirely different role in the other place, and since I have been here to see a continuation of the work that I have admired for a long, long time.

I would just say to Caroline and the kids that, if after three months with him you are sick of him, regrettably, you cannot send him back—so that decision has been made. You deserve this time with Caroline and the kids, Choof. I know it will be time well spent. I thank you for your contribution over many, many years.


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