Senate debates

Thursday, 7 December 2017



7:16 pm

Photo of Penny WongPenny Wong (SA, Australian Labor Party, Leader of the Opposition in the Senate) Share this | Hansard source

Emoji, that's right. You, as President, have filled your role with distinction, equanimity and impartiality. We thank you for your service to the Senate this year and in years to come. I acknowledge your calm demeanour in presiding, particularly over question time. I push on an expectation that one day you might uphold a point of order on direct relevance—that's a demonstration of the triumph of hope over experience. But we do thank you for the way in which you have taken to this role. We look forward to working with you. We hope not for too long; we hope for a shorter time than others might.

I also thank our Deputy President, Senator Lines, who brings a growing knowledge of procedure, a lively wit and a determination to her role. It's always a pleasure to contribute to the business of the Senate under her guidance. She has the best wishes and gratitude of the Labor team. I also thank her for her input and patience as chair of the Procedure Committee. To my counterpart, Senator Brandis: George and I, if I may, have a somewhat competitive relationship at times, but he is a worthy opponent. I do want to say that this year he has given two of the most moving and heartfelt speeches that I've had the privilege to hear. His contributions, in respect of the freedom of all Australians to practice the religion to which they adhere to and the right of people of the same sex to marry, speak to the kind of Australia we are. His contributions on these matters, I think, were an act of national leadership. I also acknowledge, before I get to my own team, his deputy, Senator Cormann. He's a man whom I have a very deep regard for. He's a man of great integrity.

I think he may not be here, but I want to acknowledge my deputy leader, Senator Farrell. He is a man of deep conviction and purpose. He brings to this Senate a strong dedication to our state and a strong commitment to improving the wellbeing of the people of South Australia. This really does guide Don in everything he does, so I thank him for his loyalty and for his work. I also particularly thank his staff, who are excellent to work with.

One of the sadder moments for me has been, this week, to refer Katy Gallagher, as we know occurred on Wednesday. Katy is the real deal: she's talented, she's is highly intelligent, she's decent, she's such a pleasure to work with and she's an outstanding Manager of Opposition Business. I'll look forward to her returning. Any leader's life is much easier when you have a manager like Katy.

I also thank Senator Chisholm for his work as deputy manager. He has been great. He brings a good Queensland perspective. I thank Senator Collins for stepping into the breach. We are very fortunate to have someone of the ability and experience of Senator Collins to fill the role of manager at this time, and I thank her for her willingness to do so. What did you say, Mr President—she's been gifted with a great voice?


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