Senate debates

Wednesday, 3 April 2019

Parliamentary Representation

Valedictory

7:41 pm

Photo of Bridget McKenzieBridget McKenzie (Victoria, National Party, Minister for Regional Services) Share this | Hansard source

There you go, Wacka. When I came to this place he was the Deputy Leader of the Nationals. He served magnificently in that capacity, bringing people together and exercising a particular style of leadership, which I think worked very, very well within the National Party. He has been the Leader of the Nationals in the Senate for a very, very long time. I think his ability to be very calm in a crisis, his wisdom and his creative thinking are much needed for all of these roles. For those of us in this chamber who've seen him ferociously fight, it's something that, as a Nat, you have to have. It's respected within the party, and absolutely Nigel has that in spades.

He's been a passionate advocate for the NT and calls a spade a spade, but it was really in the role of Minister for Indigenous Affairs where his advocacy to improve the health, education and living standards of our First Australians is his greatest political legacy. He has really changed the dial in a way that we've been wanting to see and that so many prior to him have failed to do, because of his determination and his focus to fight for resources and funding, to actually change structures and systems and to bring people together. He's fearless in his determination to see our First Australians economically empowered, and he has been incredibly successful at that.

He is also a fierce champion and is outspoken on his views, particularly on the Northern Territory cattlemen's interests, around the live cattle trade. He has been fearless around marine parks. Law-abiding firearm owners can actually be very proud of his contributions in this place, both publicly and privately.

On a personal note, Nigel and I have enjoyed our question times together and he has provided me a great source of humour, advice, irreverence and some lessons in life.

So I just want to say: thanks, Nige. We'll miss you a lot, but I know you're very, very much looking forward to this next chapter of your life with Carol and the kids and doing some cool stuff while you still can. But thank you for always applying your code consistently; for your common sense; for stating the truth regardless of its popularity; for always being prepared to break the glass when necessary; for always standing up and fighting for what is right, not what is expedient; and for always seeking to protect your family, your party, your people, the children and the community. Enjoy it. Thank you very much for your service and for your example to us all. We wish you well.

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