Senate debates

Tuesday, 8 December 2020


Madigan, Mr John Joseph

3:58 pm

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

I stand on behalf of the National Party to offer our condolences and sincere sympathies to Teresa, Lucy and Jack on the passing of their much-loved husband and father, former senator John Madigan. Very few people who pass through this place manage to do so without attracting a few enemies, but not John Madigan. It's been acknowledged here today—and you've heard from the raft and range of political ideologies—that John was a very fine representative for our home state of Victoria. He was a hardworking, decent man who always put service above self. If only we could all aspire to live that reality in our work as senators.

John won the sixth and last Victorian Senate seat at the 2010 federal election, becoming the first DLP senator to serve in more than three decades. He was among three rookie Victorian senators who took office on 1 July 2011. The others were former Greens Senator Di Natale and myself. I remember the evening of John's maiden speech in the evening—former Senator Edwards and I warmed the crowd up in the afternoon. John spoke about his work forging pinch-bars for Munro Engineering's post drivers, and he spoke of Australia's antidumping policy, Australian jobs, the economy and rebuilding our industry. He did that in 2011. How realistic and pertinent are those themes to us in the post-COVID-19 recovery era that we're entering! They are all issues of significance. I recall one occasion on which John rightly said in this place:

The strength of our manufacturing sector is directly related to the strength of our jobs market.

It could have been Black Jack McEwen uttering those words, and it's obviously a view that we in the Nationals share. If someone has a job, they have a sense of self-worth and they can provide for their family and contribute to their broader community. Senator Madigan made a lot of sense at the time—as do most, I might say, who hail from regional Victoria.

In April 2016, late in the evening during the adjournment debate, John spoke passionately about the impact that the Murray-Darling Basin Plan was having on farming communities, particularly in North Central Victoria. He said:

…the Murray Darling Basin Plan is one of the largest negative, man-made impactors on our farming communities in the history of our country.

He said that our basin communities in Australia were 'on the precipice of a national water crisis'. How very true.

John was a person who was prepared to back up his words with action. In 2015 he set up John Madigan's Manufacturing and Farming Party. As someone elected to represent a party of farmers and entrepreneurs, leading rural and regional manufacturing, this was a significant milestone in John's political career. On many issues, as others have mentioned, amongst them decentralisation, banking issues and the like, Senator Madigan and the Nationals were on the same page, particularly in our shared passion for agriculture and manufacturing. He always spoke about the importance of trades and the fact that Australian manufacturing was not on its knees. He said:

… we need to work towards enhancing the competitive advantage of Australian industry and not allow other countries to benefit at our expense through us supplying them with cheap energy at the expense of our manufacturers and food processors.

I recall that speech because he spoke of manufacturing businesses in places like Wodonga—Wilson Transformer Company and Seeley, for instance—and talked about the Australian Manufacturing and Farming Program industry showcase at Wodonga TAFE, and of a 'manufacturing meets parliament' event. I think we also shared important views around regional media and the role of the ABC in regional communities—that we needed the ABC to have not just a regional presence but a regional voice in their city boardrooms.

John and the Nationals were on the same page when it came to sticking up for our great, efficient, clean, green food producers. He was one of the great advocates and champions of buying local, buying Australian and supporting local manufacturing and local producers. He spoke very, very strongly during the debate on food labelling in March 2015. In fact, during that very debate my Nationals colleague, and deputy leader, Senator Canavan paid tribute to John's advocacy for better food labelling to benefit Australia's farm sector.

To my class of 2010 colleague former Senator John Madigan: you made a valuable contribution to our nation. The National Party in the Senate was honoured to have worked with you. I know there are former senators from our party—Senators O'Sullivan and Wacka Williams in particular—who really enjoyed going into battle with John on a variety of issues that I'm sure my colleagues will touch on. We're very proud to acknowledge an honest, hardworking blacksmith from Hepburn Springs who stood up for manufacturing, farming and family in regional Australia. Our condolences to his family and friends. Vale John.


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