Senate debates

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Parliamentary Representation


6:38 pm

Photo of Anne UrquhartAnne Urquhart (Tasmania, Australian Labor Party) Share this | Hansard source

I just want to make a short contribution in this debate. I will start with Senator Tillem, given that he has been here for only a short time. Since Senator Tillem has been here, I have found him to be a very gentle person. He is very softly spoken. He is just a lovely person. I have sat on a committee with him and enjoyed his questioning immensely when we were at a number of hearings for that committee.

I only met Senator Stephens when I came into this place a few years ago, but I just echo the thoughts and sentiments that have been expressed around the chamber tonight in terms of the nature of Senator Stephens. She has a very generous nature. I am in the same hallway as her, a couple of doors down. There is a big learning curve when you come here, and Senator Stephens assisted me and my office in a number of things. I remember the first committee report that we wrote—it was actually a dissenting report because we were in government and it was for a select committee—and Senator Stephens's office was very helpful with that. I really appreciate all that. It will be sad to see her go. I had no idea that she had such a beautiful voice, otherwise I would have asked her to sing a lot more often in her office and maybe I could have heard it from mine.

I have known Senator Thorpe for a number of years, from the early nineties. I remember when she was a fresh-faced member, prior to her becoming a politician. I was working at the AMWU and Tom Harding from the AMWU said that we had this fantastic woman who we needed to assist in getting her a seat on the legislative council. I have to say that there was no-one in the room that day who stood back and said that we would not help, because we had seen that she had a lot of potential and a lot of ability. She had those core, grassroots values that we needed so badly in there. She successfully went on to win the seat of Pembroke and represented Tasmania enormously well, until, unfortunately, she lost that seat. It was with great pleasure that I was able to be part of the rank and file vote to get Senator Thorpe here, when Senator Nick Sherry retired. It was great to be involved in that.

I do not have the same stories as Senator Brown has about Senator Thorpe, but I have a number of them. However, I am probably limited with time and I also think it is best that some of those things are kept within the confines of some areas. Senator Brown knows what I am talking about and is nodding furiously, so I will just leave it at that. I do wish Senator Thorpe and Toby all the best for their future. I know that they are heading off shortly to relax a little bit after a busy time. I hope they have a wonderful time. I also hope that when she gets back to Tasmania that she will enjoy it as a much as she says she does—and I know that she will. She lives in one of the most beautiful parts of Tasmania—well, the second most beautiful part. I actually live in the most beautiful part of Tasmania and she lives in the second most beautiful part. I do wish her well. I know that I will continue to see her around the labour movement, and I am sure that when I am in Hobart we will catch up over a coffee and maybe a glass of wine every now and then.

I met Senator Pratt back in the late nineties, if my memory serves me right, at a national Labor Party conference in Hobart, when we actually used to bring people to Hobart. The best conferences we ever had were when people came to Hobart. I was introduced to her by the late Jock Ferguson, whom Senator Pratt talked about in her speech. He was a wild Scottish character, I must say, whom I had the pleasure of working with in the AMWU for many, many years. I also had the pleasure of working with Jock in WA for a short period of time when he was the assistant state secretary of the AMWU. Jock had spoken about Louise many times before I met her. I know that he respected her. He thought very, very highly of her. When I met Senator Pratt at that conference, she was a feisty young woman. Her values and contributions have grown since that time, but she was very feisty then and stood up for the values that she espouses today.

I will miss her as an AMWU comrade. I know that she will go on to do wonderful things. I do wish her and Arron the very best for their future, and I also wish her the very best with her impending motherhood. She will make a fantastic mother. I am sure that the child that they bring into the world will espouse the wonderful values that their mother teaches them. I do wish you all the best, Louise. We will miss you in this house. Good luck.


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