Senate debates

Thursday, 10 December 2020



9:04 pm

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

They're thinking, 'Am I supposed to laugh?' I particularly thank Katy for the critical role she's played in the COVID-19 select committee, which is one of the most far-reaching programs of work I can remember. Thank you for that. I also thank the staff of Senators Keneally and Gallagher, who are highly effective and diligent—dogged, at times—and a pleasure to work with.

I thank our Opposition Whip and Deputy Opposition Whips. Senator Anne Urquhart, Senator Ciccone and Senator McCarthy are a fantastic team, and I thank them and their staff. My staff have said, 'I hope the only bells you hear over Christmas are on Santa's sleigh!'

I thank my team for their commitment this year. It is a privilege to hold the position I hold, and it makes the job so much easier knowing I have such an incredibly committed, capable and talented group of individuals supporting our effort. Anthony Albanese said this week that this is the most talented Senate caucus he can remember, and he was right. So thank you for your work. To all colleagues in this chamber: in the spirit of the Christmas season, I extend my best wishes to all of you and to your families. Those who love us endure a great deal, and, without their care and support, we wouldn't be able to do our jobs.

I do want to thank the Clerk, Richard Pye; the Deputy Clerk, Jackie Morris; Tim Bryant; Rachel Callinan; Toni Matulick; John Begley; and all of the staff of the Department of the Senate. Thank you for the work you do for Australian democracy. Thank you, particularly, to the secretaries of committees and the staff of secretariats; I know how much your workload has increased. Thanks to the chamber attendants. We really appreciate the work you do and the way in which you keep this place going. I'm sorry my knee keeps hitting my button and you keep having to come over to see if I want anything!

Thanks to all at the Department of Parliamentary Services, with particular thanks to the Parliamentary Library, PBO, and, of course, Hansard, security, maintenance and ancillary staff who work to ensure the running of Parliament House. I always want to mention the cleaners. I'm grateful to the work of the hardworking cleaners. We know how essential their job is to the maintenance of our health and wellbeing, and they always deserve more than they are paid. Thanks to all who support what we do inside and outside the building, including the Comcar drivers, and I thank also the parliamentary security team and the AFP.

To the press gallery: these are hard times to work in the media, and I acknowledge the uncertainties and pressures you work under. But your work is so important, because there is no democracy without you. To staff of Labor senators, I want to express my thanks. We are privileged on this side—and I'm sure all senators would say this—to be supported by outstanding people. Their efforts are reflected in so much that we do—in the speeches we deliver, in the policies we develop, in the operation of the institution and, of course, in our ability to serve our constituents. For many staff it has been a very demanding year. I want to say that I recognise that personal sacrifice is, regrettably, often so much a part of the job of being a political staffer. We are all very grateful. I express my personal gratitude to my whole team, ably led by Tom Mooney.

Finally, to all the Labor members and supporters throughout Australia, including our friends in the labour movement: on behalf of the Senate Labor team, I extend our gratitude and our solidarity and I hope that the holiday season is a happy and safe one for you all. To those comrades in our movement who work inside and outside of this place in service of the Labor cause, who understand that Labor governments change the country and who are working to make a federal Labor government a reality: I thank you for your commitment, your values and your aspiration. I wish all a Merry Christmas.


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