Senate debates

Thursday, 7 December 2017

Statements

Valedictories

7:16 pm

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

NXT/SA-BEST, Senator Hinch and to others, we thank you for your engagement with us. We don't always agree, but this chamber is unique, I think, for the level of engagement, discussion, respectful debate and, frankly, real legislating. As Labor's leader here, I want to thank all of you and wish all of you the very best for the year. Senator Di Natale said to me that it was really good working together, particularly on the marriage bill—and I want to echo that.

There are a few people here I would like to thank. To Richard Pye—great job; thank you. To Maureen Weeks, Tim Bryant, Rachel Callinan, Jackie Morris, Brien Hallett and all the staff of the Department of the Senate: you perform such a fantastic job, but you perform such an important job for the Australian democracy. I've said it before and I will say it again, this is the chamber, I think, that really matters.

Honourable senators interjecting—

I do; I really do, I'm not just saying it because I'm here. This is where I wanted to be, because I think this is the chamber that matters, and it matters for the country—and it would not function without you. So thank you very much for your work. I extend the compliments of the season to the secretaries of committee and all of the staff of committee secretariats—who I know have been working extremely hard, given we send them a lot of references. They have demonstrated commitment, patience and, at times, forbearance, and certainly consummate professionalism.

Thank you to the secretary and all the staff at DPS. Thank you to the Parliamentary Library, the Parliamentary Budget Office—we've given them a workout—Hansard, security, maintenance and ancillary staff and Comcar staff. I again make particular mention of Parliament House cleaners—hardworking people who come to this building in the early hours of the morning, keep our offices and our facilities clean and tidy. They are always friendly and cheerful, even at ridiculous hours. I hope that the pay issue is resolved and we see more decent pay for them.

I also wish to thank all our staff. At the risk of upsetting people, I'm not going to name people, because I always find we miss people out. I always say that, in this place and in our jobs, we are only as good as our staff. Our staff play a critical role. It's particularly tough and unrelenting work being in opposition—as you might remember—but it is really the contribution of staff that enable us to do it. The quality research and speech material and obviously a lot of procedural work are the things that enable us to do our work. I thank all Labor senators, but I particularly thank my staff for putting up with me and for their loyalty and extraordinary professionalism.

Finally, to all those Labor members and supporters throughout Australia: thank you very much for your continued support. We are grateful for the support of people across this country, and I extend our gratitude for your support. I hope that the coming holiday season is a happy and safe one, and we ask you to continue to keep the faith.

I want to end on this note: this is a momentous day, as Senator Brandis has said, and it is a day where we are reminded about what is the most important thing in our lives, and it is always the people that we love. And I, on a day where this parliament, I think, has really expressed its view about the importance of relationship and family and love, say to all of my fellow senators: I hope over this period you have time to spend with those who are special to you, those who are close to you, those who you love, because it is the most important thing in our lives. Thank you.

Honourable senators: Hear, hear!

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