Senate debates

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Parliamentary Representation


5:22 pm

Photo of Eric AbetzEric Abetz (Tasmania, Liberal Party, Minister for Employment) Share this | Hansard source

It is my privilege on behalf of the coalition government to say a few words on the occasion of Senator Wright leaving us. First ofall, I congratulate Senator Wright on what was, if I might say, a very folksy, charming and engaging valedictory speech. In the relatively short period Senator Wright has been here she has experienced a fairly dynamic period of Australian politics—a few Prime Ministers, a few Greens leaders and I think only one Liberal leader, possibly more to good luck than good management, but who knows. It was a very dynamic period and Senator Wright observed the coming into government and then the backing out of government of what we on this side called the Green-Labor government. Senator Wright, as a founding member of the Greens, undoubtedly was used to the ups and downs of politics on an organisational basis here in the parliament, where, in the parliamentary sense, it can be somewhat difficult.

If I might say so, Senator Wright gave a very good expression on behalf of all colleagues as to some of the issues we face when we are away from family. Noting Senator Wright's many portfolio positions, I simply to say that she threw herself into everything in the portfolios and areas of interest she had personally or was given by the Greens as her special responsibility.

As a foundation committee member and a former honorary legal adviser to the Jireh House women's shelter in the suburb in which I live, I share a strong affinity with Senator Wright's views on the topic of violence against women and domestic violence. I believe she has made a very thoughtful and good contribution in that particular area of public policy. It did note Senator Wright's comments about the fire fighters bill and the firefighters rushing into the building as everybody was rushing out. If sufficient time has now elapsed for me to divulge this, I was the shadow minister dealing with this bill. On my side of politics, I felt a bit like the one fire fighter running into the building when all of my colleagues were wanting us to leave it, but after a period of time I was very pleased to see the outcome, to which Senator Wright referred, and that was the unanimity of the parliament. Sitting on one of my shelves is a gift from the firefighters union—I understand it is below the disclosable threshold. I will not tell my preselectors about it in case it harms my chances of reindorsement. The collegiality and the manner in which the parliament acted in relation to that bill showed the Senate at its very best and Senator Wright and Mr Adam Bandt from the other place played a very important role.

While we are often on the TV screens doing things to make people think we are as hard as nails, we do have families and we do have other concerns. Senator Wright has made a very tough decision and has put her family first. We on this side recognise that and we salute that. We wish Senator Wright personally all the very best, whatever the future may bring. We also extend those best wishes to your whole family. All the best for the future.


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