Senate debates

Tuesday, 30 July 2019

Parliamentary Representation


7:18 pm

Photo of Sarah Hanson-YoungSarah Hanson-Young (SA, Australian Greens) Share this | Hansard source

I rise tonight on behalf of the Australian Greens to give my congratulations to Senator Fifield for a long career in this place and moving on to bigger and better things as the ambassador to the UN. One thing I am always struck with, in talking to people outside this place, is how shocked they are to hear that people from different sides of politics actually get along, that we can talk to each other, that we can work with each other, that sometimes what you see in question time is not the reality.

Mitch, I think you have really shown in this place that it doesn't matter what side of politics a person comes from; if they've got a good idea, if they're willing to engage, then you will participate and have that conversation. I thank you. There have been many times where I have had a bee in my bonnet and you've been prepared to listen. But it's really about making this place more cooperative, generally. You see that with your team, and I have witnessed it with how you engage with people right across the political spectrum in this place. I know as communications and arts minister you loved that portfolio dearly and you did some great things. I didn't agree with it all but being able to work on some things together was incredibly satisfying.

In your speech just now you have spoken about not being partisan just for the sake of it, not being oppositional for the sake of being oppositional. I think for all of us that's an important message to hear and an important thing to continue to do in our daily lives in this place in how we work with each other. This place works when we respect each other, when we engage in ideas and lively debate and when we are able to cooperate with the workings of this chamber.

You have always been able to be straight with people. I think that's what's made you good at your job in terms of managing the business in this place. We heard Mathias reference that in terms of your own relationship, but I think from this side of the chamber we've always appreciated your honesty and directness, even if it wasn't exactly what we always wanted.

I'm looking forward to seeing you operate in the UN and doing everything you can for global climate action. I will be sure to be writing some notes for you!

On a personal note, you're a lot of fun. Again, with this idea that politics is broken, I think we as politicians need to be a bit more open. You don't have to be oppositional all of the time. We actually get along in this place because we're all humans. We're all here for the same purpose and that's to contribute to our country to make things better. We might have different opinions about how that is done. But having that debate, having that respect and having a bit of a fun as we do it is what makes politics much better in this country.

Thank you, Mitch. We're going to miss you on this side. I look forward to seeing what comes out of the UN over the next couple of years.


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