Senate debates

Thursday, 10 December 2020



9:13 pm

Photo of Larissa WatersLarissa Waters (Queensland, Australian Greens) Share this | Hansard source

What a year the world has had. On behalf of the Australian Greens, I express love and support to all Australians who have suffered this year. What a bin fire of a year.

To the formalities: here in the parliament, President, can we start by thanking you for the important work that you've done this year to keep the chamber mostly civilised and focused during a particularly chaotic and challenging time. This has been an extremely testing year for everyone, and you have personally done well to keep it ticking along, as has your family. You've been fair and patient. You must remember to buy the trampoline for the kids for Christmas!

I'd like to extend the Greens' thanks to the Clerk, Richard Pye; to the Deputy Clerk, Jackie Morris; and to all of the amazing staff at the Table Office and the Procedure Office. To Toni, to both Rachels and to everyone in the drafting office: thank you for your tireless work. To the Senate staff and, of course, the lovely attendants who keep this place ticking over—who, thankfully, don't have to bring us glasses of water anymore; we can get our own water now so that's halved their workload, at least in my instance—thank you very much for the work you do for us but mostly on behalf of the Australian people. You go about your business professionally and with purpose and with patience. From all of us, have a wonderful break over Christmas.

Thank you to the gardeners. They make this place look absolutely stunning, and they shine a little light onto how our public places should look. Being able to steal a few moments every so often to wander outside brings a much-needed perspective to our decision-making in this place.

I'd also like to thank the Parliamentary Budget Office, the Parliamentary Library, of course the COMCAR drivers, the security staff, the baristas, the chefs at the Trough, who make fantastic chips, and the Department of Parliamentary Services staff for the service you give us all hours of the morning, noon and night. Particular thanks, of course, to the cleaners—what a year to recognise the value of cleaners, teachers and health workers.

Thanks to the IT teams for their immense efforts in keeping democracy operating safely during a pandemic, particularly as we transitioned to remote parliament. Remote parliament was a long time coming, and you did a remarkable job in getting a bunch of technophobes, for the most part, to successfully dial in, sometimes with cats, pets and children in the background, which was also delightful to see. I look forward to future discussions about the opportunities for greater participation and diverse representation that remote parliament could provide.

Thank you to the colleagues from all sides of this chamber. Thank you for your commitment to our nation in performing these roles. We know it's not an easy job, and we acknowledge the work that you do to represent your constituents. In particular, thanks to the crossbench as well.

Thank you to the staff of all of you in this building. It's important that we keep those staff in this workplace safe from harassment and bullying and ensure that their interests are best protected. I look forward to working more on that collectively as we resume next year.

Thank you, of course, to all the engaged citizens in our electorates who contact us with stories, ideas and sometimes robust critiques. It's critical to democracy that we remain connected to the people that we represent.

I'd of course like to thank my wonderful Greens Senate team—all true friends and passionate advocates. A particular thanks to all of our Greens staff who keep us on track, and special mention to Clare, Colin, Rod, Jay, and to my staff, Jess and Justine, who come here to Canberra. We couldn't do any of this without you. It's been a big change this year for our party with a change of leadership. The wonderful member for Melbourne, Adam Bandt, has handled this year marvellously despite a pandemic and working on the wrong side of the building. We were also pleased to welcome our fierce new senator, Lidia Thorpe, who, I might add, makes this place majority female for the first time in its history. I want to particularly thank Rachel, our Whip, for the power of work that she does not only to advocate never-endingly for vulnerable Australians but also to wrangle the bunch of us. Some of us are easier than others to wrangle. I think Rache is the best Whip in this place, and probably will be the best Whip that this place ever sees.

On a personal note, I want to say thank you to my daughters and my family for their love and support. The work of everyone in this place comes at a cost to our families, and none of us could do this without them. My oldest daughter graduated from primary school yesterday, and I'm very much looking forward to giving her a cuddle and celebrating tomorrow. I'm sure everyone's similarly in that boat.

Thank you all for the sacrifice and the commitment and the passion you bring to these roles. I'll just sign off by saying to those of you who don't believe in Christmas— not mentioning any names—happy non-denominational, gender-neutral, environmentally sustainable, socially responsible holidays. For the rest of you, happy Christmas!


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