Senate debates

Thursday, 18 June 2020

Statement by the President

Brown, Mr John, OAM

3:09 pm

Photo of Penny WongPenny Wong (SA, Australian Labor Party, Leader of the Opposition in the Senate) Share this | Hansard source

by leave—I rise on behalf of opposition senators to speak on the occasion of John Brown's last day in the Senate. John has served us here for many years—he didn't quite make 20—all but 13 months of that time as supervisor. He has led the team of chamber attendants superbly, and he has served this extraordinary institution with great distinction. We do rely on chamber attendants. From circulation of amendments to guarding the doors, and all the many tasks behind the scenes that many do not appreciate, they ensure this place actually runs. They walk that tightrope between providing us with assistance and not straying into the spotlight. On a sitting day, they're here well before most others arrive and they are packing up after most have left.

John, you've brought great discipline and unity to the team of chamber attendants; I think that is reflected in the pride with which they do their work. You've led by example—unfailingly courteous, respectful and cheerful—and you have demonstrated a great ability to have the attendants working as a team. They do us, the Senate and you proud.

As Senator Cormann said, John's abilities were recognised well beyond the walls of the chamber. He had more than a little role—a starring role—in Annabel Crabb's documentary about the operation of Parliament House. John's is a life of service to the nation: some 30 years of service in the Royal Australian Navy and nearly 20 years in this place. We thank him for that.

John is a man who, I'm told, likes his machines, especially his cars. I'm reliably advised that he owns one of the best sets of wheels in the Senate car park. When we had a chat about his retirement plans, he told me one of his plans for the future was to drive across the Nullarbor. I thought that might be a little monotonous but I figured, 'You've sat through 20 years of the Senate, so you'll be fine!'

John has been the captain of the Senate ship for nearly two decades—certainly the entirety of my period in the Senate to date. I say on a personal note: we will miss you. Your great pride in serving serves as an example to all of us. Walking onto the floor of the Senate is a privilege. It is one you have always honoured. We thank you and we wish you well.

Honourable senators: Hear, hear!


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