Senate debates

Wednesday, 13 February 2019

Parliamentary Representation

Valedictory

6:10 pm

Photo of Doug CameronDoug Cameron (NSW, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Minister for Human Services) Share this | Hansard source

Could I also add my comments to the things that have been said about Senator Williams and Senator Leyonhjelm. I came into the parliament at the same time as Wacka—and, for the sake of Hansard, whenever I say 'Wacka', you can insert 'Senator Williams'. Wacka was immediately someone who grabbed your attention. We were getting this school about how the Senate came about and how the Senate was there to represent the states, and I found it a bit bewildering that Senator Williams immediately started arguing for the abolition of the states—after being elected as a senator for New South Wales! He went into this spiel about the northern new state and about how New England should've been a state on its own. I know that's a long-standing issue up in New England, and they actually have developed a crest, which is based on the Scottish lion rampant. I did go up to New England many times. I was a union official based in Muswellbrook and I went to Inverell, Narrabri, Wee Waa and all the way up to Tenterfield, so I've been up to Inverell on a number of occasions. I look around tonight and I think everyone who lives in Inverell is here tonight to pay respect to Senator Williams.

He and I have had some roaring arguments and debates in this place. I'm a bit known for having a go at the National Party now and again. But, every time I did, Wacka would be on his feet straight after me, defending the National Party and attacking me. That's life here. But he and I always got on really, really well. I can't say that about too many on the other side. I've always been respectful and friendly to people on the other side, but I've been very friendly with Wacka. We were on the economics committee at the same time and we went through some of the things that Wacka spoke about.

The other thing about Wacka is that he really, really loves Nancy and he really looks after Nancy. It's not often that you find your partner severely injured, but you never get Wacka Williams offside. He began a campaign to limit the speed of mobility scooters because Nancy had been badly injured. It just shows the respect that Wacka has and the love that he has for his wife and family. I think that says everything about him. Again, I echo what Senator Cormann said, he was dogged, he was decent and he was absolutely determined to follow his conscience and the issues that were important to him.

He has got terrific staff. Greg Kachel has been around here for as long as I've been here. We all owe so much to our staff, and Wacka took time to deal with that today.

But, Wacka, you were in the wrong party. I'm a socialist. Wacka is an agrarian socialist. That's the reality. He's a great guy. I don't agree with a lot of his politics, but we've been good friends in the time we've been here.

As for Senator Leyonhjelm, we've had our moments in this chamber, as you've had with most people—I'm not special in that—but, as I said to you this evening, at least many people know that you were a senator and know that you were here. You've certainly made a mark since you've been here: some good, some not so good and some bloody awful, in my view, but that's how you are and that's what you've done. For someone who doesn't believe in government, you've got this obsession about becoming a parliamentarian. That's another issue—you want to get your voice heard and you're in there and you've argued those points. You and I have had a number of discussions walking down the corridor, because your office is across from mine. We've had some friendly and some not so friendly discussions on the way down here but, again, I have always found you to be very upfront and someone who stands up for his values. I commend you for that. I hate your position on the ABCC—bad call!—but, as has been said, you've always been frank and forthright. You never were going to be the Messiah in here, and you have been at times a very naughty boy. People know you've been here and you've stood up for your principles. I wish you well in the future. I wish Wacka and his family well. Senator Leyonhjelm, I'm with others on the Labor side: I don't wish you success in your parliamentary career in New South Wales, but I do wish you and your family well. You've certainly made your mark when you've been here. I'd like to add my comments to that which has been said earlier. Two particularly special people have been here. Let's see what the future holds. I hope it's not another parliamentary position for you, Senator Leyonhjelm.

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