Senate debates

Wednesday, 13 February 2019

Parliamentary Representation

Valedictory

6:38 pm

Photo of Concetta Fierravanti-WellsConcetta Fierravanti-Wells (NSW, Liberal Party) Share this | Hansard source

I, too, rise to associate with the comments that have been made in relation to both Senator Williams and Senator Leyonhjelm. I also take the opportunity to acknowledge the presence of Senator Fiona Nash, who was in the chamber earlier. We didn't get the opportunity to farewell Fi like we would have liked to. I place on record my acknowledgment of and my thanks for her service as a senator for New South Wales, as a minister and as a deputy leader. I'm sure that whatever Fi is doing now, particularly in the academic world, she's continuing to make a great contribution.

Today we farewell two senators from New South Wales. As a senator from New South Wales, I thank them on behalf of those many people who both Wacka and David have assisted. They have served the people of New South Wales very well. They have served the people of New South Wales to the best of their ability and, as such, New South Wales has been very well served by its two senators.

To Wacka first: he will be missed, and I've told him this. Everyone has talked about Wacka. He is the epitome of the 'great bloke'—a thoroughly decent person, with a sense of family values and beliefs. They are all the things that we share. We share many, many things together. Our values and beliefs are very similar.

Wacka has a great sense of humour. This was especially clear to me when someone can name their chooks 'Connie' and 'Michaelia'. There is a story to Wacka naming them. He told me that his previous chooks had been named after very well-known women in the National Party, and so he proceeded to come in one day and say, 'Nancy has bought these two new chooks, and we've called them Michaelia and Connie.' I really didn't know how to take this. Of course, I was thrilled to have this chook named after me. So we proceeded for a number of years to get a frequent report on these two chooks. I was assured by Wacka that Connie laid more eggs than Michaelia. Michaelia got a little bit scratchy at times. I also had the benefit of Wacka coming down to Canberra every so often and bringing eggs that Connie had laid. Michaelia and I were very honoured to have these chooks named after us.

Wacka and I were able to do really good work together, especially on our inquiry into liquidators. As a former solicitor with the Australian Government Solicitor's office, I had worked extensively in the insolvency area. We were able to work very, very effectively, particularly in pursuing some of the very dodgy liquidators that we had in New South Wales. There was one in particular whom I had had dealings with when I was a government solicitor, and I must say that it was with great pleasure that Wacka and I finally extracted a degree of retribution for some of his activities.

At one stage in 2009, I did a wool report. I looked at the wool industry in Australia, particularly in relation to why we sell a lot of our good wool to the Italians and then many of us buy beautiful Italian clothes in return. I told Wacka that I was doing this report on the wool industry, and Wacka said, 'Connie, I'll take you shearing so you can see what it's really like.' I thought, 'Great, this is terrific,' and so off I went to Inverell. We went out to a shearing shed out at Inverell and some fellow showed me how to shear a sheep. What was really great about that was watching Wacka—notwithstanding all the other things he had done in the interim—shear with the same degree of prowess that he had in his earlier years and him teaching me the finer points of shearing.

I conclude by wishing Wacka and Nancy all the very, very best. A few years ago, I was travelling up north, having travelled through Inverell, and I rang him up at about seven o'clock one morning. I said, 'I'm about to drive through Inverell,' and so I was promptly welcomed into Wacka's home and shown around his beautiful property. I know that he and Nancy are looking forward to spending really good time together. As Wacka faces the next challenge in his life with Parkinson's, I am sure that, as a consequence of what he has done in his life, he will now become a very good advocate for Parkinson's. I'm sure that he will enjoy his retirement with his wonderful family and Nancy, in particular.

I now turn to David Leyonhjelm. It's been an absolute pleasure to know and to work with David. I enjoyed our many discussions, especially, of course, because we're both cat lovers. David had four cats and I only have one, so I did benefit from some veterinary advice as well along the way. David now has three cats, and I'm sure they'll be happy to welcome him home—along with his wife, of course!

One thing about David is that he always stuck to his principles. He stood for what he believed in. In this place, politicians come and go, but principles are enduring. Therefore, standing by what you value and what you believe in is very important. In the end, in the things we do, not everybody agrees with us. But if you're prepared and you stand by your principles, then people respect you more when you're prepared to stand. As Senator Scullion said, often David stood and was alone in the point of view that he put, but he was proud to do so because he was standing by his principles.

I am sure that he will continue in his quest against the nanny state. I'm sure that he will find targets—many targets—in New South Wales to address his issues with now. I wish him well. I hope he won't be too successful! I'm sure that he will continue to make a contribution to public life, whatever he does.

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