Senate debates

Wednesday, 3 December 2008


6:54 pm

Photo of Brett MasonBrett Mason (Queensland, Liberal Party, Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Education) Share this | Hansard source

The incorporated speech read as follows—

In this big building, teeming with seemingly thousands of people it is still possible to be lonely. When the flush of initial excitement and wonderment fades, some newly arrived Senators can often feel isolated and cloistered.

But I was lucky. When I arrived Senate colleagues were generous with their time and convivial to a fault. And no one more than Senator Chris Ellison. Though he was busy with ministerial duties he took the time to make me welcome, always provided friendly advice (which I sometimes stupidly failed to heed) and has proven to be a constant source of support.

Chris explained to me that he as a Western Australian and me as a Queenslander share a special bond. While he always questioned wise men from the east, and I sophisticates from the south, we both shared a common scepticism of the worldly triangle of Canberra, Melbourne and Sydney. Chris’ scepticism has stayed with me.

Chris was always consistent. He was conservative but with a conscience. He would always listen, he was always polite, he was always considered. It is these personal qualities that have made Chris Ellison one of the most respected figures in the Senate. While many of us (me included) have sadly succumbed to loud invective and sometimes personal abuse, Chris never ever fell for that. He always remained courteous even under great pressure. As Minister for Justice, despite abuse and provocation from the then Opposition, Chris maintained a dignity, politeness and a sense of purpose one could only admire. Above all else, Chris Ellison will be remembered for these personal qualities.

Of course I can’t forget what a great dinner companion Chris was. We shared too many wicked nights at Lee’s Chinese Restaurant. We perhaps ate too many dim sims and drank too much red wine. But I could not think of better company in which to relax.

I only hold one grudge against Chris. And that is that early in my parliamentary career while we were having a drink somewhere in Manuka the music came on and he forced me to dance (and I have to admit I had had a couple of drinks), with the bopping Member for Mackellar, Ms Bronwyn Bishop MP. Chris laughed with mirth, Bronwyn jived and I failed to swing.

Anyway, Chris, I forgive you for that now.

I wish Chris and his lovely wife Caroline all the very best for their future and I know that Chris will build a full life beyond the confines of the Senate. I respect him for his contribution to Australian public life and thank him for his sincerity, warmth, politeness and generosity. I know I have learnt from his example.


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