Senate debates

Wednesday, 3 December 2008


6:33 pm

Photo of Alan EgglestonAlan Eggleston (WA, Liberal Party) Share this | Hansard source

I rise to acknowledge the great contribution that Chris Ellison has made to the Senate over the years he has been here—since 1993. Chris, as others have said, had a long and distinguished career in the ministry under the Howard government. In fact, he is the third-longest-serving federal minister from Western Australia—after Sir Shane Paltridge, who was the Liberal Party leader in the Senate in the Menzies government, and Sir Gordon Freeth, who was the Liberal member for Forrest and a former Australian foreign minister. Chris has been a true son of the WA Liberal Party, embodying its values and a commitment to federalism.

As Senator Ronaldson said, there are of course two Chris Ellisons: there is ‘Choofer’ and there is the very eminent and respectable Senator Ellison. As Choofer, he was very much involved in the politics of the northern metropolitan divisions in Perth and worked in association with a very famous upper house member for that area, Bob Pike—who, I am sure, was something of a mentor to Chris. Bob used to go around signing up entire bowling clubs, tennis clubs and football teams to ensure that there were a few friendly faces at his preselections, but he was also a person who had a very strong commitment to the Liberal Party’s philosophy. He, like Chris, was a strong Catholic and lived the values of his church in his life and in his commitment to his family.

Over the years, Chris has been a great supporter of the Liberal Party organisation. He was a very welcome and frequent attendee at north divisional conferences, particularly in Broome, for some reason, where he made some significant contributions, if not memorable contributions—and, may I say, not always on the conference floor! We always enjoyed your company, Chris, and we were always pleased that you made the effort to come up to the north-west and come to our conferences.

As others have said, Chris has the honour of having held six different ministries in government. But his greatest contribution, undoubtedly, was during his period as Minister for Customs and Justice. I know that that was a period that Chris enjoyed very much indeed. Without going into too much detail, I note that he really did make a difference in that portfolio.

Lee’s, of course, has been mentioned several times. I must say that, in my time in the Senate, Chris has been the greatest supporter of the Lee’s club and its grand traditions. I am sure that tonight there will be many tales told of events in the past which have occurred at Lee’s.

Chris has always seemed to me to be characterised by commitment and great energy. He is a very hard worker. All of this, importantly, has been combined with a pleasant and friendly manner and a joking sense of humour, which has made Chris a very pleasant person to know and to work with. Chris, I would like to wish you and Caroline and your family all the best for the future in whatever you take up in your post-parliamentary career. Whatever you do, I know you will be a great success at it.


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