Thursday, 18 June 2020
Statement by the President
Brown, Mr John, OAM
by leave—It's not often that we're able to pause and reflect. When we do, we remind ourselves what an amazing privilege it is for us to be able to serve the Australian people here and to serve our country on their behalf. It's our great honour as elected representatives, but that honour is not just ours. There are many people in this place who serve the Australian people, perhaps in a way that is less public and generally less noticed by the broader public. John Brown is one of those very important, key people who have made such an amazing contribution in this place for such a long time. For almost two decades, John has worked tirelessly in this place, giving outstanding service to the Australian parliament. So, as he prepares to leave this place and begin a well-earned retirement, far from any ringing bells, let us acknowledge John and his service.
Nineteen years ago, John came here to work as a parliamentary security guard, as the President just mentioned. He walked these hallways from 2001 before joining the Department of the Senate in 2005. It is in this capacity, as a chamber supervisor, that John has provided diligent, efficient, and unfailingly courteous service to everyone in this place—so much so that he once played a starring role, as I understand from some of his colleagues, in an ABC documentary about his team's role in the operation of this chamber. Some of us are still trying to work it all out!
He has served five presidents, three clerks of the Senate and five ushers of the Black Rod, and I don't know how many leaders of the opposition and leaders of the government were here during that period—probably too many to mention. John has seen five openings of parliament and the swearing in of three governors-general and 112 senators, and these numbers clearly speak for themselves. John is a pillar of the Senate, and all of us have greatly benefited from his support. Be it directly or indirectly, he has helped make the work we do here possible, and for that we owe him a great deal. We could all pause more often to acknowledge people like John, because people like him make this place tick and enable us to do the job we do on behalf of the Australian people.
While many of us may be familiar with John's work in this place, his service to Australia began long before he arrived here. John spent many years in the Royal Navy and then the Royal Australian Navy, serving with such distinction that he received an Order of Australia Medal in 2001 for his meritorious service to the Australian Defence Force. So, on behalf of the government, I would like to express our gratitude for John's dedication and service to the Senate and to our country. He's an unsung hero of this chamber who leaves an indelible mark. We wish him a happy and healthy retirement, much of which, I'm reliably informed, he will spend at the wheel of his beloved MX-5.