Senate debates

Tuesday, 8 December 2020


Madigan, Mr John Joseph

4:20 pm

Photo of Concetta Fierravanti-WellsConcetta Fierravanti-Wells (NSW, Liberal Party) Share this | Hansard source

I too rise to pay my condolences on the passing of John Joseph Madigan, who, sadly, left us at the very young age of 53. As a female, conservative politician in this place and having had an office close to John's, I got the opportunity to get to know him quite well and speak to him on quite a number of occasions about the things that were important to both of us. As I reflected on his maiden speech of 25 August 2011, it was about values of family and faith. Others have spoken about different parts and different things that he said during his maiden speech, but the thing that I really took from that speech was: 'This is a man whose background was about hard work—commitment, hard work and, most importantly, commitment to his family and to his faith.' Those values and beliefs underpinned what John did in this place.

We've talked about manufacturing, and, of course, in his maiden speech, he did talk about BlueScope. As a senator based in the Illawarra, BlueScope is very important in Australia, and Australian steelmaking is very important. Of course, we had occasion to discuss those things. In an article in The Canberra Times following his passing, he's referred to as a:

"Blacksmith, teetotaller, Democratic Labour Party Senator: he's a throwback to another generation, a time when things were done differently," …

It wasn't that things were done differently; it was a set of values and beliefs that John shared with us—that sense of family values and beliefs that I think are still very important to the silent majority in this country and which John so ably represented. He was, as others have said, respectful, a good listener. His quiet manner demonstrated his deep understanding of how our activities here affect the daily lives of Australian families.

But what I do want to say in relation to John, particularly when we talk about values and beliefs—and we have had conversations in recent times about politicians and conduct—is that John always conducted himself with the utmost respect to everybody. He was, as Senator Hanson-Young has said, a true gentleman. As politicians, I think it's very important that we live up to the values and beliefs that we tell the electorate we hold and that we promise to represent. There should be no difference between who we are in Canberra and the values and beliefs that we pronounce to our constituents and to the people that put us here. I know that John embodied very much the sentiment that he was a politician that said what he meant and meant what he said. He was a politician who abided by the courage of his convictions. I know that, in this place, that is often very, very difficult. But, for John, it was who he was, and that's what I admired most about him. Often, when you are honest and forthright and you do stand up for and have the courage of your own convictions, it is and can be a very, very difficult time and it is a difficult place to be. But, if you do have the strength of courage, as John did, to do that, then it does make it very easy. Therefore, he maintained the faith and trust that the electorate had placed in him, and I think that that is one of the things that we will very much remember about him.

In conclusion, Teresa, you; your children, Lucy and Jack; Carmel; and the rest of your family should be very proud of his service both here and to his community both before and after his time in this place. He was a decent, honest man, a man of enormous integrity. To Jack and Lucy, your father may not have been here a long time, but the values of family and faith that he espoused are the values and beliefs that live on in the silent majority in this country. Vale John Joseph Madigan.


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