Wednesday, 22 June 2011
Cleaver Elliott, the then Deputy Clerk of the Senate, when asked what is a senator's most important speech, said, 'It is the last, not the first, as it is a chance to speak to the future.' My last speech is to be just that, a record outlining some of the decisions and experiences that are most memorable from my time in the Senate. I hope that, both for my family, who are here today, and for those reflecting on this period in Australian history in the future, this contribution is a valuable account.
I would like to clarify for the record the circumstances surrounding my decision to contest the No. 3 position on the New South Wales Labor ticket in the 2010 election rather than a more secure number. The New South Wales ticket at the last election was headed by Senator Faulkner, a senior government minister at the time, and in my view the most appropriate candidate to fill the No. 1 position. He should have headed the Senate ticket six years earlier. At the time, my cancer was relapsing, I was very ill and had no desire to go through that preselection. However, the then general secretary, Eric Roozendaal, decided to put John and I through it. I might add, John did not know I was ill.
My decision this time was simply based on love. In June 2009, my lovely wife, Natalie, had gained preselection for the safe Labor seat of Keilor in Victoria. This decision was made by the national executive of the ALP and I was a proxy that day. I voted for her and, in doing so, knew that life would never be the same. Natalie was elected to the Parliament of Victoria in November last year. We have bought a house there and our son goes to St Augustine's College. Once she was preselected, the die was cast. I was always heading south.
I would have been No. 2 behind John Faulkner if I had chosen to be. In fact, on the afternoon of the meeting to discuss the ticket at Trades Hall, I was under considerable pressure not only from my party and union colleagues but also from significant elements of my faith, the Catholic Church, to secure the No. 2 position. Truth be told, I probably should have opted to retire prior to the election but believed at the time that as an incumbent I might have had a better chance than a new No. 3 to get that spot, as did others. While I did not succeed, I do not regret the decision to run in that slot. Incidentally, our New South Wales ticket was the only group in Australia to receive DLP preferences.
On the topic of my home state, the ALP brand is terminally damaged in New South Wales. Voters will reflect on the behaviour of key figures within that parliament and the union movement before the last election without mercy for a long time yet. What was once the most durable and effective state government in the country is now a depleted husk of an opposition.
One of the defining moments in the decline and fall of the New South Wales ALP was the debate over the electricity industry. Certain unions mounted a public campaign against the Iemma Labor government's policy of privatising electricity generation in order to secure the capital necessary to fund capacity expansion. As we now witness, electricity prices continued to soar in New South Wales. The wisdom of this policy should be beyond dispute. The campaign was led by John Robertson, as head of Unions New South Wales, and Bernie Riordan, the failed state party president, who at the time still held that role. Both individuals are involved in the ETU and owe a lot to its patronage. General Secretary Karl Bitar sided with these individuals in the ultimate act of treachery.
The party machine betrayed and undermined its own elected government to further the interests of the ETU and its patrons. The interests of workers, who were given strong guarantees by the government, and the interests of the people of New South Wales, which motivated the policy, did not rate with these men. Events worked out well for Robertson, however, who was appointed to the Legislative Council. He replaced Michael Costa, the well-regarded Treasurer, who resigned along with Premier Iemma, when their principled attempt to introduce the government's policy to the New South Wales parliament was opportunistically voted down by the coalition. Ironically, John Robertson then went on to champion privatisation in the prison industry and now the man that destroyed Labor in power is the party's leader in opposition.
But, for the people of New South Wales, the biggest insult was to come from the efforts of Eric Roozendaal. As minister responsible for privatising electricity retail, he faced such objection to the sale price from the boards of these public companies that eight of the 13 directors resigned. Their replacements were appointed immediately from Roozendaal's own staff and the deal was done. On the advice of the Chief of Staff, Walt Secord, now sitting in the Legislative Council, Premier Keneally prorogued the parliament early to avoid an inquiry occurring before the state election. The damage was well and truly done by this stage and New South Wales Labor, now led by an undeserving John Robertson, is in opposition after four of the most shameful years in its history. Upon entering this place I had much more positive reflections on the New South Wales government in those early Carr years.
When I made my first speech to the Senate I was determined to give voice to those in our country whose experiences and contributions had never been acknowledged. In a way the inquiries I was able to participate in gave me the opportunity to learn about the lives of ordinary Australians and some of their extraordinary experiences. I can recall all those inquires and some of them have made a mark on me that will last a lifetime.
The first inquiry that I chaired was into the extent of poverty in Australia. This commenced in October 2002, when I was chair of the Senate Community Affairs References Committee. It was a distressing journey into the experiences of the disadvantaged, the have-nots, the given-ups and the given-up-on, real people living extremely hard lives here in Australia. We did try to blame the then coalition government for these people's hardships and, certainly, the former government did contribute but, for many of these individuals, the problems were long-term and well entrenched before 1996. The most important lesson that the Senate should learn from that inquiry is this: it does not matter how women and children got into the predicaments they are in; they are there and we need to help them. In the past, no matter how well-intended our policies and actions, policy in this area had a habit of never failing, being abused or realising nothing—a waste of time. We have now finally instituted a system that is fair and firm—a system that I believe will ultimately work. These reforms were a core plank of Wayne Swan's budget this year. This was a traditional Labor budget—a hand up, not a hand out. Give all people the chance and, through their actions and the support of others, they can take advantage of new opportunities and build their livelihoods. Australians are capable and hardworking people, and Wayne's budget will help them turn their aspirations into reality.
I was to participate in another inquiry that would have a considerable impact on me personally. After some years Senator Andrew Murray, a child migrant to what was then Rhodesia, was successful in lobbying both me and the then shadow minister Wayne Swan to consider an inquiry into children in institutions. This was one of the most harrowing periods of my time here. The inquiry examined the treatment of children, whether born in Australia or child migrants, who had been either forcibly or voluntarily placed in institutions. This came to be known as the inquiry into the forgotten Australians. It was a very sad and painful inquiry. There were hundreds of written submissions—if you could call some of them written. There were many phone calls, mostly to the dedicated secretariat, led by the avuncular Elton Humphery, who I hope is here today—there he is—along with Christine McDonald and Ingrid Zappe. I read each and every one of these submissions and often cried at what was in them. They were all sad. They were from men and women, mostly in their 70s and 80s, attempting to provide us with an understanding of what for most of them was the nightmare they enjoyed as young boys and girls.
Even now, I think of them and their written words and their courage in coming forward to tell us what happened to them: the abandonment, the fear, the shame, the self harm, the loneliness—problems that exist to this day—and, not least of all, the suicides that resulted. These people's stories are etched in my memory—the most reprehensible experiences and impossible to forget. We were all shaken to the base of our souls. Our hearts sighed. We were bewildered. We wondered time and time again how adults could do such things to children. How could men and women of faith routinely abuse boys and girls sexually, physically and psychologically? Why didn't someone step in? Why were they able to get away with it? We all know the answers—and so do those still alive. They relive that terror daily. There is no way to describe what these boys and girls went through, other than to say that they entered the gates of hell. I wanted to share with you one story in particular but I thought that would be unfair. Instead, I encourage you to read the report and all the stories. Never let the suffering of these children be forgotten.
Senator McLucas went on to finish the inquiry, along with Senators Moore and Humphries. These three senators have tales that would make you sob—and, every now and then, we would. The Forgotten Australians report was a tribute to the lobbying of the Care Leavers Australia Network, particularly by Leonie Sheedy, which eventually led to the apology by the then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd on 16 November 2009.
I went on then to defence, and Senator Evans had been highlighting for some time the injustices and irregularities that were occurring in the Australian defence forces. These entrenched situations were leading to the breakdown of morale, a culture of bullying and, far worse, suicides. Senator Evans convinced the Senate of the need to establish an inquiry into military justice. I am not sure that it was welcomed by the hierarchy at Defence, but it was agreed to by the government.
The inquiry focused on the operation of procedural injustice but also heavily on suicides and accidental death. Our first hearing was in Hobart and we were confronted by the angry mother of Eleanor Tibble. Eleanor was an Air Force cadet officer, a proud member of the corps. She was a leader and she was highly regarded. Only in her mid-teens, she was taken advantage of by someone much older. Of course, in the view of 'the boys' club,' it was all her fault. The boys' club swung into action to protect their own. Eleanor was disciplined, threatened with discharge and humiliated. The cadets were her passion and she felt abandoned and confused. Not long after these events, Eleanor took her own life.
This and many other cases left the committee confronted by the sheer inhumanity that existed in all levels of Defence. It became clear that we had to act. The final report, with some 40 recommendations, was prepared by the erudite Dr Kathleen Dermody and presented to the Senate on 16 June 2005. To his credit the then Minister for Defence, Brendan Nelson, had cabinet adopt substantial changes to military justice. However, core elements were not in the legislation presented to the Senate.
When the bill was presented, the whole committee considered that it had not gone far enough. We heard that coalition senators threatened to cross the floor unless those core elements were in the bill. Senators Johnston and Payne and former senator Sandy Macdonald that day brought justice to the military. I know that the legislation was successfully challenged in the High Court, but I do not believe anybody can say that the system is as rotten as it was then. The action of those senators that afternoon put Defence on notice, and there is no doubt in my mind at all that there are men and women alive today because of their actions.
I highlight these two inquiries to place on record how much I appreciate the staff involved, who, more than us senators, bore a lot of the sorrow, anguish and pain. But not all inquiries are as personally searing as the one I just mentioned. After 2007 I became Chair of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on the Australian Crime Commission, now the Parliamentary Joint Committee on the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity. We commenced an inquiry into serious and organised crime to uncover where the dark spectre of its influence lurks in our society. Seizing unexplained wealth, preventing corruption and providing law enforcement with the tools they need to eradicate such organisations were high on our agenda. On my watch I had the chance to work with great people, no more so than the indefatigable Dr Jacqueline Dewar, who framed our major report that led to the Commonwealth enacting comprehensive crime legislation. We gave the agencies the power to break up the baddies. Additionally, last Thursday the PJC presented a significant report on maritime and aviation security. This represents 2½ years of great work by Dr Tim Kendall, Tim Watling, Dr Jon Bell and Bill Bannear.
My family and friends are here today. They came here really to make sure I am going. To quote from Dante's Inferno: 'In the middle of the journey of our life I found myself in a dark wood, for the straight path was lost.' That was me after my first fight with cancer and subsequent recovery. Then came along Natalie Sykes, my wonderful wife, who has been of so much support and encouragement. Over those very dark years when my cancer returned she was there. What sort of person marries a cancer survivor? What sort of person uproots her life, her comfortable existence in Victoria, to venture north? What sort of person acts as a nurse, caretaker, confidante and motivator? What sort of person takes on five stepchildren as friend and adviser? Only one very much in love, and one I love very much.
My six children are here this afternoon—Lauren, Julia, Michael, Georgia, Madeleine, Xavier; my son-in-law, Leon; grandson William; Michael's partner, Lesley; and young Jacob. All these kids have been through so much. This final speech must be, for all of you, a great relief. Mr President, all these children have had to put up with so much from 1999 to 2004, when I was diagnosed with cancer and relapsed. On both occasions, I spent time in palliative care wards. It was emotionally difficult for all of them but they were a strength for me. Of equally tremendous support to me was my little sister, Linda Mary Veronica. She is up there somewhere in the gallery. She has been there for me on so many occasions. Without her, sometimes getting through would have been impossible.
Many mates are here. I think my oldest mate, Michael Lee, is up there somewhere—even though he did drop a desk on my foot when we were at school together. I have forgiven him. A lot has been written about Michael. If he had survived 2001 and moved into a leadership role rather than others, you do not need to wonder where we would be today. Old mates like Leo McLeay and Ross Free could not make it. Almost all my ex-staffers, except one, are in the gallery. Colleagues from the Transport Workers Union have come down—the president, George Clarke, and the secretary, Wayne Forno, of the New South Wales branch. And I thank Tony Sheldon, who could not be here today. If only other trade unions had their integrity and intelligence, the movement would not be in the trouble it is in.
I would also like to thank my current staff, who are here today: Linda Bourke, Julia Hine, James Young, Amber Setchell and Mark Zoellner. They have been an exceptionally professional and hardworking team, despite the temptation to wind back after 2010. I would like to place on record my thanks to Professor John Cartmill, the surgeon who has operated on me so many times, and Dr Patrick Lam, a St Mary's GP, both of whom have been of great assistance to me. I literally owe my life to them. I want to thank those who have made my journey so agreeable, particularly, if I can say it, my Labor Right colleagues here in the Senate.
When I arrived in Canberra I made two lifelong friends: one here on the floor and one in the gallery. I once said to a family member that I was going to meet the bishop at the Holy Grail and to come with me. My family member only heard 'holy' and thought, 'That would be right—him seeing a bishop at 8 o'clock at night.' Imagine her surprise when she got to meet Senator Mark Bishop at a bar called the Holy Grail. If only I could share with you some of my and Mark's stories, they would turn your hair grey or white. They certainly do not affect Mark's hair colour. Remarkably, it never changes. Irrespective of these quirks, Mark is one of the sharpest minds I have ever encountered. I think it is a shame that under our current system Mark has not been placed in the ministry. Maybe one day.
Don Farrell is also someone I have known since we were at Harvard together. He is a great bloke. I say that because he may speak tonight. 'Sterlie' is someone I first met in our TWU days. I think we first met at a racecourse in Perth. He is the salt of the earth—but don't ruffle him or else. I have so many other mates here. There is Senator Arbib, who used to work for me—now I work for him. There is Senator Feeney, who used to work for me—now I work for him. There are many of my colleagues here from the House of Representatives and, of course, my old good mates Chris Hayes and Craig Thomson, who have always been there for me.
I have so many friends in the gallery. If I acknowledged you, it would be unfair. The friend in the gallery is my old mate Ian Meldrum, the demure proprietor of the Holy Grail. It is a controversial venue on occasions but always a watering hole for many a Labor figure. Ian quietly shares a drink with you. You can say what you like—rant, rave—while Ian patiently stands by and listens. I believe he has missed his calling in life. He is more a priest than a publican.
How could I forget the ever-patient Ian in Senate Transport? With what he has had to do he should get a Public Service medal. I will miss him. I also thank all the Comcar drivers, past and present, particularly those in my home state of New South Wales.
I would also like to recognise other friends in the gallery tonight: Sashikala Premawardhane, Acting High Commissioner of Sri Lanka; Dr Gary Song-huann Lin, representative of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office; and two old and dear friends, Sid Marris and Peter Nolan. John Lawler, Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Crime Commission, who I worked with closely in my time with the law enforcement committee, is also here tonight.
Queen Victoria told her Prime Minister the Duke of Wellington that there were three things she hated in life: insects, turtle soup and Tories. I have some mates on the other side and a particularly good mate in Senator Parry, whom I think you all know is a former assistant commissioner from Tasmania and undertaker. But I have not changed my mind on Tories.
To conclude, I believe we are all motivated by what the great English reformer William Beveridge said is a real issue: under what conditions is it possible and worthwhile for men and women to live as a whole?
I want to finish my speech to this chamber with a quote from the Bible, the New Testament. This is a letter from Saint Paul to Timothy. I think it sums up not just my feelings but everybody else who is going:
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award me on that day—and not only to me, but to all who have longed for his appearing.
It was hard work for me to get into the Labor Party. It took me six months to join the New South Wales branch in the early eighties. My flatmate and I were living in Petersham and did not realise that the impending preselection battle would make it difficult for us to belong. We did not fit into the then very rigid factional divide that characterised the New South Wales Labor Party, and no-one was keen to have us in the branch when they did not know how we would vote. We eventually made it onto the books, although I was not very active in the party at that stage. The management of the merchant bank I worked for, Chase NBA, were a bit stunned that I was a member of both the Labor Party and a union. I do not know how they would have coped if I had been actually active.
When I did launch into politics in Adelaide about 10 years later, I stood for preselection for the state seat of a retiring member. Unfortunately that seat had also been targeted by a Labor member who had a very marginal seat on the other side of town and who became an independent when he was not preselected. It was a rugged contest fought in the shadow of the South Australian State Bank crisis, and the independent was running very hard. I was under pressure from some senior Labor people to withdraw in favour of the independent, who they thought would win. The incumbent Labor government then made him a minister in their government. Sometimes you do not need enemies when you have friends.
Nevertheless, I was elected, one of only 10 Labor members out of the 47-seat House of Assembly and the only female. Fortunately I was soon joined by other Labor women, who came in shortly afterwards in the by-elections. I do hesitate in mentioning these by-elections in case it starts to raise hopes in the hearts of those opposite, but that is what happened.
It meant long hours and hard work but we formed a close and united team behind Mike Rann, who was a strong leader and a great campaigner. I also got much assistance from Frank Blevins, a former Treasurer and Deputy Premier, who sat behind me in the chamber and was a great source of advice.
I got a large swing back the next time and Napier became a safe seat. I was then elected deputy leader of the party after the 1997 election. The Liberal government was a minority government and we used every opportunity to put them under pressure. We knew we had a chance of getting in at the next election but also knew it would not be easy—please note opposite that there were no by-elections that time. A redistribution put about a third of Napier into the neighbouring marginal Liberal electorate of Light, although it was still very much a safe seat.
My husband, Bob, who is an engineer, had one of his 'what if' moments and suggested that I could shift into running for Light. He forgot about it immediately, of course, but I started to think it was not a bad suggestion if we were to pick up that one extra seat that we needed to win. I had had enough of the opposition benches and thought that Labor deserved government. To Bob's horror, the plan was put into practice.
Another gruelling election campaign followed. It was clearly an important seat and the Liberal Party put everything into it. For example, Bob had an office in a house close to the city, where I sometimes stayed overnight when parliament sat late. One of the Liberal Party Legislative Council members rang a number of the neighbours of that house to try to get them to say I lived there—and thus a long way from the seat I was running for. He called the night owl early in the morning and the early riser late at night and pushed them quite hard, apparently, but did not get much cooperation from them, although they did manage to track down my phone number and tell me what was going on. Some time later we did move into that house, and, as a result of the interesting introductions arising from that incident, those neighbours are now great friends of ours.
Still, I did lose that seat in the 2002 election. As many of you here know, it is very draining and personally demoralising to lose an election into which you have put all your heart and energy. Although I did not pick up the seat, a Liberal independent decided to support Labor, and Labor then formed government. If I had stayed in my safe seat I would probably would have been Deputy Premier, but I know I made the right decision not to put my own political safety first but to take a risk. I am sure this set a fine example to others—although I have not noticed anyone following my lead yet, and I rather fear it has set a salutary lesson on what not to do!
When I ran for the seat of Light, one of the interstate volunteers, Linus Power, came over to supervise the campaign. He not only ran a tight campaign but did a lot of the work on the ground and became a tower of strength for me and my family He is one of the young people I think of when others complain that the Labor Party has become a party of careerists. Linus is intelligent, talented and hardworking and would succeed anywhere he chose to go, yet he remains with the Labor Party. There are others in the same category, like Elias Hallaj, Peter Malinauskas, Sonia Romeo and Michael Brown. The fact that there is speculation about three eminently qualified people as possible South Australian Labor leaders is a good indication of the depth of talent in the South Australian parliament, and there are others in parliament who will also eventually make their mark. It is pleasant to be in the position where I am able to choose retirement and the time of my going, knowing that the Labor Party, certainly in South Australia, is in good hands.
When I came into the Senate, I went again into opposition and again into a position on the frontbench This meant I could not settle into the job quietly along with the rest of my large intake, but it did give me something to sink my teeth into. I took the job of shadow minister for citizenship and multicultural affairs in the year following the Cronulla riots, in December 2004, and there was a particularly passionate debate about multiculturalism. I spent a lot of time travelling around the country trying to reassure many groups that the Labor Party was still committed to the principle of multiculturalism, so it gave me much satisfaction to hear the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Chris Bowen, make that strong affirmation recently. Following the change from Kim Beazley as leader in 2007, I lost my position on the front bench. I was disappointed, since my assessment was, even then, that we had a good chance of being elected. I had been a shadow minister in a number of portfolios and a deputy leader of a state party, but unfortunately had never had the opportunity to be a minister in a government. This disappointment meant at least that I could take a more active part in the Senate committee system. I became chair of the Senate economics committee, and that became a busy and sometimes hectic job, with periods of high drama and, occasionally, high farce.
At this point I must recognise Mr John Hawkins, secretary of that committee, and other secretariat members over the years. The Senate committees are generally very well served by their secretariats, but John's exceptional intelligence and commitment enabled the committee to keep its head above water when there was a record workload and at times some heavy political pressure from both sides.
I am proud of the record of the economics committee and particularly some of its larger reports, like the space industry and charities inquiries that were completed in the midst of a welter of other legislative inquiries. I thank my colleagues on the committee Louise Pratt and Doug Cameron, who also made the journey; the deputy chairman, Alan Eggleston; and other members of the committee.
I now want to acknowledge just some of the people who have enlivened my career and helped me along the way. It is now a common practice in maiden speeches to go through a long list of people who have helped the member in his or her life—so much so that a couple of them have sounded like the proverbial beauty pageant acceptance speeches, I think. I have always held the view that it is not the individual that is elected but the party, particularly in the Senate, so I used both my maiden speeches in the old-fashioned way, to talk about how I wanted to implement party policies and what I saw as the priorities. Today, however, I intend to be self indulgent and do a list.
First on that list must be Don Farrell—Senator Don Farrell—and his wife Nimfa Farrell. A quality I have admired about Don is his ability to set goals, plan tactics and not be distracted by any noise or squabbling along the way. This was demonstrated in his leadership of his union and his role in the Labor Party, and now I am sure that it will be a hallmark of his parliamentary career. When I was a South Australian Labor Party organiser, I worked closely with Don on his bid for the federal seat of Adelaide in 1988, and he also knows the disappointment of an unsuccessful campaign. Many times in the subsequent decades, his position in the Labor Party meant he could have got preselection for a safe seat, but many times he stood aside to allow someone else to move ahead, including me. From a personal point of view, Don and Nimfa and I have shared many good times. Apart from their incomprehensible liking for the wrong football team, I have a great admiration for their shared love of family, loyalty to their friends and dedication to the Labor Party.
I have been also fortunate in my staff. I started with three staff from Geoff Buckland's office. Rosie Falco had done great work with the refugees in the Baxter Centre, and her infectiously lively personality now resides in a ministerial office in the South Australian government. Nimfa Farrell and Peter Gonis are still with me. Peter Gonis was only 20 when he joined my staff, but from the beginning he displayed effortless maturity and independence; I have basically left him to it, and have never been disappointed in the quality and value of his work.
Sidique Bah joined when I took the shadow ministerial role. Sidique came to Australia as a refugee from Sierra Leone with a background in journalism before the war overtook his life, and demonstrates why Australia gets a very good deal with our immigration intake. Sidique moved into the electoral office and Andrew Plimer jumped straight into the role of policy adviser with tremendous enthusiasm and talent. He lost his job when I just lost a title and a bit of extra responsibility, and it is sad that he has now moved to Canada. He might anyway have felt some increasing and maybe uncomfortable scrutiny on his climate change views, given the stance of his father, Professor Ian Plimer.
Cathy Perry later came on board during the most hectic period on the economics committee. She worked side by side with me, and her intelligence and sage advice was invaluable. We had great chats on our long and frequent journeys to various hearings and I got to know her well. She has a strong belief in Labor values and she deserves a long and distinguished career in politics. She is now also working with a South Australian member.
A fairly recent addition is Matthew Marozzi. Matthew is another very young man who shows the Labor Party is in good hands for the future. He hit the ground running to take on the role of assisting with committee work and just about anything else going. I have already had other members trying to poach him from my staff—one of whom is here now! But at this stage I do not want to lose his quick intelligence, good humour and willingness to help.
Dianna Zollo joined my staff last year in a strange twist of fate. I first started a paid political career when one Carmel Zollo took maternity leave from the office of Chris Hurford, member for Adelaide. She was very generous in showing me what to do and how to do it. Carmel is now a member of the state legislative council and was a good minister. Her daughter, after beginning a teaching career, now does the job Carmel helped me into, and is very well regarded by the constituents she helps. The office has been pulled together and managed with an iron fist in the velvet glove of Nimfa Farrell. She has been the pivot of my office and my work in the Senate, as well as a great friend.
Although I was always interested in politics, scientists do not come across political work much. Getting to know MaryAnne Armstrong, with her extensive Labor Party connections, was my first introduction to the world of professional politics, but what I remember most is the warmth of our personal friendship. Other personal friends have been patient with my peripatetic life, and I want to thank them all.
There are also many people to thank here in the Senate. When I first came here for the information session, I was immediately impressed that the Senate staff treated the institution with gravity, dignity and professionalism yet somehow managed to be friendly and unassuming. I thank Rosemary Laing and Cleaver Elliot for their assistance, as well as the Table Office and Parliamentary Library staff. Hansard and Broadcasting do outstanding work. All Senate staff share the long hours and the ups and downs of the job: the Senate transport office and drivers, the messengers and the security people. The mail room is outside my door and it is strangely comforting to see them going about their job calmly and efficiently. Thank you, too, to the Aussie's management and staff for keeping patient and cheerful while providing long queues of tired people with essential caffeine and refreshments. My immediate family do not want any formal recognition, but I will ignore that. My son, Patrick, was five years old when I was first elected, just embarking on his first year of primary school. He is now 23 years old and just embarking on his first year of a PhD in mathematics education. I was eight months pregnant with him when I was doing the 1988 by-election campaign, and he was been immersed in politics ever since. He has been a source of joy to me since he was born and along the way he also became an interesting companion, a knowledgeable sounding board for discussion and a minder of the family home. Of some pride to me is that he continues to spend a significant amount of his spare time with TocH, a group that provides recreational activities for disadvantaged children.
My parents, Pat and Floss Hurley, have given me the kind of unwavering acceptance and encouragement that anyone in politics should have. It was their belief in the value of education that gave me and my sisters the chance to fulfil our potential, and this was at a time when it was not fully accepted that girls would be career minded. Our tertiary education occurred under a Labor government and I am very pleased that the Gillard government is also deeply committed to education. My sisters, Carol and Sharon, have helped out with the kind of vigorous scepticism and energetic debate that characterised many of our discussions when we were growing up. This has proved very useful at times in politics when people have tried to shout me down or impose their views—let me tell you that they were nowhere near as intimidating as either of my sisters. One of them is a lawyer and the other a school principal, and they are pretty good at getting their own way and know all my weak points.
My husband, Bob, and his family have also backed me to the hilt. After about six months in state parliament it became clear to Bob and me that we could not both continue in busy full-time jobs and provide the care we wanted for Patrick. So Bob quit his job as a software engineer in minerals analysis instrumentation and began gradually working up a business at home as circumstances allowed. I will say no more than that I very much hope that in the new phase of our life, when I leave politics, we will continue to have the partnership that has so delighted, enriched and sustained me.
Before I leave I want to mention a couple of topics that I think should occupy your time here in the chamber. Firstly, there is the question of Australia beginning to use nuclear energy. While we did not need nuclear power to complete our energy requirements, I thought we should not risk the dangers. However, regardless of any emissions trading system, the futures of our energy sources of oil, gas and coal are not as positive as they used to be. We now need to have a serious look at nuclear energy. Because it will take so long to do a proper inquiry and have a thorough look at the new technologies, much less identify possible sites, I think it is imperative the nation tries to keep an open mind and commit to an impartial inquiry. I urge you to support any such initiatives.
Secondly, I want once again to put the case for Australia becoming a nation of science and innovation. We know we have the talent; unfortunately, we do not have the size to fund significant levels of development from the private sector. The universities, the CSIRO and the CRCs have made very significant contributions over the years and I urge all parties to not only maintain but improve government support for pure science, technological research and assistance in commercialisation. We have the example of the Scandinavian countries to show that advanced research and development can create a large niche in a country's economy that will deliver good, rewarding jobs. In Australia the history of agriculture demonstrates that advanced research and development result in better profits and greater adaptability. The future of our manufacturing must surely be in innovative, technologically advanced areas. I think we have just scratched the surface of the possibilities in Australia.
On that note I say farewell to all my colleagues in the Senate and the House of Representatives, particularly the class of '04. It has been a wonderful and fulfilling opportunity to be a senator, and I wish my successor, Alex Gallacher, and his wife, Paola, the very best in their new roles.
I have always loved listening to stories. I love sitting around a campfire with my kids and telling them stories of my own childhood, growing up in a large family of 16 children. There is something about a story that allows others to be involved and allows others to be encouraged. Stories draw us in and allow us to learn about ourselves and those around us. Stories cover every spectrum of life, weaving knowledge around movement and emotion. They can have kicks in their tails, sudden unexpected twists, or be as predictable as death and taxes. As we all know, some stories based on fact are more incredible and stranger than fiction. My story belongs to the former category. My life has had some unexpected twists, including my election to the Senate in 2004, which for many was remarkable and a big twist in the tale. I will be forever grateful to the voters of this great country that is one of the oldest and most robust democracies in the world. It was a historic win, an amazing story in itself.
But today I want to share with you a story about another man, one who preceded me in this great place, the Senate. It is a story that has remained largely untold. I want to honour him, his memory and the role he played in my extraordinary transition from being just a man with a dream to a senator. Despite having an engineering degree and an MBA, I knew I stood no chance of being elected as a senator unless I first understood the breadth and depth of what was required in the role. If I could glean that knowledge and gain insight into the mindset of a senator I was confident I could be successful. Like the prince who sets out on a quest to find his princess, I set out to find someone who knew a senator. It did not take me long to exhaust my family and friends and end up back at the start. Unsurprisingly, no-one knew a senator I could talk to. After all, I had no political grooming when I was growing up, or throughout university or my business career. My hidden weapon was growing up in Reservoir in a large family. I learnt many things. One of them was perseverance. Confronted with a roadblock, I was more determined than ever to find the one who could mentor me and help me. I asked myself, 'Who do I admire and respect the most?' It was an easy question to answer, an obvious one in the end—considering he was a giant in Australian political history: perfect. If you want something badly enough, you will persist. I obtained his home phone number and, late one Saturday afternoon in 2004, I picked up the phone and dialled. The great man himself answered. Momentarily taken aback, I paused before launching into my spiel that I was running for the Senate and that I would appreciate some of his time. I was a total unknown, a stranger asking this political icon for a meeting. With his customary gruff abruptness, he shot back, 'You're not some kind of nutter, are you?' Desperate to keep him on side, I reassured him of my professional qualifications. He did not seem too impressed to start, but then suddenly, decisively, he agreed.
His choice of meeting place was typically outrageous. We met the next day in his local church hall, after the morning service, my wife in tow—a smart move which quickly paid off. The awkwardness was evident so, in an effort to break the ice, my wife, Sue, went to fetch us some cups of tea. It worked. He leant over to me and said with a grin, 'She's bloody good-looking, isn't she?' Stunned for only a second—after all, he was known to be a bit cheeky—I managed to squeeze out, 'That's why I married her.' I think I had passed my first test. He agreed to another meeting and we duly convened to his chosen restaurant, tucked away in a corner of Camberwell, he with his two minders and I with my good-looking wife. It turned out to be a long lunch. We spoke about everything and anything. I soon grasped how much intellect this man had and, despite my years as a senior executive, how little I knew. I can assure you all that there may be no such thing as a free lunch, but there certainly is such a thing as a life-changing one. As our time came to a close, I asked him if he would continue to help me. He paused, reflecting, and then said with great sadness, 'I can't. You see, the Democrats are my first love but they have broken my heart. But they are still my first love.' It was a heartfelt moment, but I persisted, leaned towards him, and asked, 'Then why don't you adopt me like your son?'
We continued to meet on occasions at his home in the lead-up to the 2004 election. He was generous and encouraging. On one of those occasions, with great gravitas, he warned me about the Greens. He told me they could never be trusted. He went out to his study and brought back his draft manuscript from his then-unfinished book. He shared with me that he wrote only one page on the Greens, as they did not deserve any more. He then gave me a copy of the page and went on to say that I could use it against the Greens in the election campaign. I quote from that manuscript: 'Frankly, I would be devastated if Bob Brown and his followers ever held the balance of power in the federal parliament.' Even after winning my Senate seat, we never discussed why he ended up helping me. I think that it was in part due to the fact that we shared a common view: that the Greens should never be trusted with the balance of power in Australia. I have shared this story today to pay tribute to this great bloke—a man who had politics running in his veins, who was, I think, Australia's greatest senator: the Hon. Don Chipp.
Due in some part to his encouragement and mentoring, I have had the tremendous honour and privilege to serve this great country as a senator for the last six years. I have also been privileged to get to know three successive prime ministers and to meet with ministers and shadow ministers on many occasions. I have never taken these meetings for granted and have valued and enjoyed the trust that both sides of parliament have shown me, along with the friendships I have made. I have held these meetings, conversations and relationships close to my chest and will continue to cherish the memories privately for years to come.
However, I can share with the chamber some of the insights I have gained from my time in this place. From any perspective, politics can seem like a winner-takes-all conflict. Today has been no exception: a place where there are only winners or losers. However, sitting as I have on the crossbenches, I have gained valuable insight. I have learnt that indeed there are always going to be winners, but I have discovered that seeing a loss as a learning opportunity moves you forward without bitterness. It also allows you to discover more about yourself, your circumstances and your abilities. Consequently, I would say that my six years have been characterised by both winning and learning, with plenty of lessons learnt along the way.
Let me share some other stories. On the morning of Tuesday, 26 July 2005, my office contacted the Herald Sun with a breaking news story. Just 26 days after the commencement of my term, we had uncovered a major flaw in the government's proposed new Work Choices laws. That is right: public holidays and meal breaks were no longer guaranteed; they were gone. So outrageous was this proposition that even the Herald Sun did not believe us initially. 'Howard would not sell out the battlers!' was the response. It was not until later that afternoon that the Herald Sun, at our urging and instigation, finally agreed that we—not a powerful union, not the Labor Party, not a large welfare organisation or social service but a minor party, a new senator in parliament—had uncovered a big black hole in the prized legislation of the government. The story was big, and a surprise to most. On the day the story appeared in the Herald Sun even Peter Costello, under cross-examination by 3AW's Neil Mitchell, tap-danced all around the issue unable to give assurances about basic working conditions like public holidays and meal breaks. Before the final vote on Work Choices, I met with Prime Minister and suggested a way to bring some fairness to the unfair Work Choices legislation. But in this debate he only wanted my vote and did not need it. I felt that it was a mistake by the government to dismiss any commonsense changes. It later proved to be the start of the demise of the government.
By the time the government brought in the fairness test, it was too little too late, as the perception that the government had sold out the battlers was too entrenched. My learning opportunity from this story was about the importance of reading legislation line by line for myself. No matter how many voices urge me to vote in any given direction, it is my duty to be diligent as a senator. There are no short cuts as a legislator. I also learnt that common sense is more valuable than any balance of power. The sting in the tail of the story was self-evident at the polls in 2007.
On other occasions I learnt that sometimes the simplest ideas are the best. Skyrocketing grocery prices are always a big issue for families, which is why in 2008 I introduced the unit pricing bill where supermarkets have to display prices in units to help families cut grocery bills. I had seen this work firsthand whilst living in New Zealand in the mid-1990s. It was not rocket science but rather a simple and effective method to assist families. I was as surprised as anyone else by the number of products that are not cheaper when purchased in bulk. A Senate inquiry on my bill backed up the benefits and finally, in September 2008, after a rigorous campaign from my office and others, the government abandoned their discredited Grocery Choice idea in favour of unit pricing.
But not every story has such a happy ending. One of my lasting regrets is our nation's missed opportunity to really tackle Australia's alcohol toll. It still staggers me today that the alcohol toll costs the nation over $16 billion a year, mopping up after excessive alcohol consumption. In 2007, when I first became aware of the incredible cost to the community from excessive alcohol consumption, I urged both sides of politics to see the urgency and the need to address Australia's alcohol toll. I know that it is difficult to confront Australia's alcohol toll because no-one wants to be seen as a wowser, especially any government of the day. But I still believe that we could develop an alcohol toll campaign that the community would get behind just like they did when we tackled the road toll, the AIDS toll and the tobacco toll.
With this in mind I introduced the Alcohol Toll Reduction Bill 2007, which would have resulted in backing up the responsible drinking campaign with warning labels, moving the approval of alcohol ads out of the hands of the industry to ensure that alcohol ads do not entice kids and do not hint that success in life comes from drinking alcohol and, finally, dehooking alcohol from sport by removing the exemption that allows alcohol ads to be shown any time of the day solely because it is a sports broadcast. The Senate inquiry on this bill provided ample evidence from countless expert witnesses to warrant action on Australia's alcohol toll. But as I said earlier, not every story has a happy ending. The government, regretfully, turned the alcohol toll debate into a tax issue rather than a cultural issue and, as a result, our nation missed a golden opportunity to really tackle our $16 billion alcohol toll.
So what does it take to get a story with a happy ending? Marketing gurus would tell you that sex always sells, so that is the tactic I used in May 2008 on the steps of Flinders Street Station on behalf of Australian pensioners. I am the first to agree that exposing all by stripping naked to the waist was not a pretty sight, but the Fair Go for Pensioners rally was certainly a winner that day. My striptease act has been described online as 'the only good reason for mandatory internet filtering—Steve Fielding naked'.
It all started with Shirley Grant, a pensioner from Glenroy. Shirley was the real face and voice of this issue, airing her frustration on Neil Mitchell's 3AW talkback radio and declaring she was desperate enough to take her shirt off in protest to get an increase for pensioners. She was so convincing that I rang Neil Mitchell and told him that I would help organise a pensioner rally as long as the ladies would keep their shirts on, as I would be stripping for them.
The success of this pensioner rally surprised us all as the grassroots campaign took off with huge media coverage. There were subsequent meetings with the Prime Minister and then the government finally bowed to the pressure. The protest rally was a pivotal turning point that ultimately led to the biggest one-off increase in the age pension. Yes, a happy ending, but it was the voice of Shirley from Glenroy that was more powerful than any politician's voice in Canberra. Now I turn to the most distressing issue that either side of politics have had to deal with; to the voices that will never be heard again, their silence echoing from the deep, drowned by the greed of people smugglers preying on vulnerable and desperate people. Many Australians see this as a border security issue; a management problem. I see it far more personally: I see fathers, mothers, sons and daughters seduced into taking a perilous voyage in the hope of asylum in Australia.
On a self-funded trip to Christmas Island, I was told by one of the asylum seekers that for every 30 or so refugees that make it to Australia, 70 or so do not. They either drown, disappear or are thwarted by authorities on the way. As long as we keep accepting these refugees who do make it we will be a partner in this deadly game of russian roulette. We must stop the boats for humane reasons, regardless of the politics from both sides. Remember, I, too, rightly supported the changes to asylum-seeker laws that were made after Labor was elected in 2007, but I did not expect the boats to start flooding into Australia again. This was clearly an unintended consequence and I was appalled at the dreadful loss of life that was occurring as more and more people jumped into dangerous boats in a despairing bid to get to Australia.
So I started to develop a new policy that would stop the boats and therefore stop the senseless loss of life. It was a simple idea based around a swap concept as outlined in the Herald Sun in March 2010. Asylum seekers arriving by boat would be transferred to the back of the queue in overseas refugee camps, but to release pressure on these camps Australia would agree to take two or more refugees who had been waiting patiently for years to be resettled. I talked to both sides of this place, imploring them to consider this policy. Initially, both Labor and Liberal were reluctant to support it. Then in December last year video footage of the refugee boat being smashed onto the rugged rocks off Christmas Island reinforced the urgency and the need to stop the boats. But there are no winners in this story. The current Malaysian solution gives me no sense of victory that I have been heard; only a hope that future lives may be saved and that we will not have to endure the anguish of more futile deaths at sea.
There are many other stories that I could share where I have played a role of great influence. I have always taken my role and responsibility as a senator very seriously, even though at times I have used some novel ways to promote good policy to the dismay, and sometimes the amusement, of the Canberra press gallery. Nonetheless, the policy ideas behind any stunt were always serious and worthy of attention. I have continually put forward legislation and challenged the status quo on a wide range of public policy, including a number of private member bills and numerous Senate inquiries.
Many in this place would know that I love my sport, but my age is showing with the all-too-frequent injuries, which is why I have often been seen zipping around on a red scooter or hobbling into a division in this chamber on crutches or limping. It was not the argy-bargy outside the chamber, it was definitely sport. Part of the reason I play sport in parliament is because it provides me with an outlet for the stress that comes with sharing the balance of power. The extra benefit has been the friendships that I have formed that would not have been possible without the sporting activities. I thank Andy Turnbull for making the parliamentary sports club work so well and for the tremendous funds that we have been able to raise for charities through it.
One of the most challenging days I had in this place was when I shared publicly about growing up with a learning difficulty. For me it was always the elephant in the room. If I ever mispronounced or stumbled over certain words, as we all can from time to time, it was a tough day to get through. But I was greatly affirmed and encouraged by an overwhelming number of people who contacted me in support of my disclosure, thanking me for speaking on their behalf.
In particular there are two people I want to personally thank for their encouragement at that time. I received a touching personal note from Ron Walker that really lifted my spirit and Neil Mitchell wrote a very caring opinion piece in the Herald Sun. Both meant a lot to me at the time. Once again, I would also like to encourage all those kids with a learning difficulty: never give up, and do not listen to those people who say you are a dummy. Instead, hang in there and think big. Remember, you get stronger by swimming against the tide than with it.
As a senator I have been very well served by all the staff in this place. Thank you: each one of you has made my job a lot easier, and our parliament functions extremely professionally, as it should, as a consequence of your dedicated work.
Over my six years I have come to appreciate that the Prime Minister's job is the toughest job in the country, and the sacrifices the prime ministers make are undeniable. I would like to say a very personal thank you to Prime Ministers John Howard, Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard for giving me the time you did over my term. I have truly been in a privileged position and I am indeed grateful.
Now to my staff. Any senator knows your staff are critical, and I thank all my personal staff for their trusted, professional and expert advice, and loyal service. There is one staff member I want to give special mention to and that is Anna Franchesicini, who has been with me from day one as my office manager. Anna, I cannot thank you enough, and you know how you have been a real help to my family.
And finally I want to thank my family. I am indeed indebted to my parents, who lived out the meaning of putting family first, teaching me always to do my best and to put in more than you take out. Susan and I have three wonderful children, and I am indeed blessed. To my son James, our eldest son, who is flying through his third year of law at university: I am inspired by your ability to always do a professional job whenever I asked for your help. To Campbell, our middle child, who served in the Defence Force for his gap year and is now in his second year of a building apprenticeship: I am so proud of your persevering attitude and thank you for always helping out when I was not around. And to Gabrielle Fielding, our gorgeous daughter, currently in year 11, thank you for being so positive and encouraging in very difficult times. Lastly and most importantly, I want to thank my closest friend, my wife, Susan. We both undertook the biggest challenge of our lives back in 2004 when I decided to run for the Senate. Only people in this place would know how incredibly difficult it is to manage an election campaign—and as an Independent it is even harder. My wife and I managed the entire 2004 Senate campaign in Victoria from our home. Together Susan and I worked day and night for months recruiting and managing 37 federal candidates across Victoria, along with all aspects of a grassroots campaign, including manning over 1,500 polling booths.
Members of this place know the incredible price our partners pay so we may serve this great country of ours. Susan has been my biggest backer and most influential adviser, at some considerable expense to her health. At the time I chose not to go public with her illness, but in 2008, just as I started to share the balance of power in the Senate and my vote became critical, as a family we faced the gravest times as we nearly lost her to a thyroid crisis. That she is here to share this day with me is a testament to her resilience and inner strength. Even though I leave this place with some sadness, I am still looking forward to a new chapter in my story, and my greatest comfort is knowing that from July I can again put my family first.
I would like to make some remarks on behalf of the Gillard Labor government to the three retiring senators who have given their valedictory speeches today. Again it seems we have had some of the best speeches in this place delivered as farewell speeches, and we have had a bigger crowd both in the chamber and in the gallery than we ever have for our normal proceedings. So we must do this more often!
Steve Hutchins has had a great Labor career, and I congratulate him on it on behalf of all members of the Labor Party. I think Steve's speech today was an extraordinarily revealing, powerful, passionate and personal speech, and I was very moved by it. I know he spoke from the heart in a tremendous contribution. Steve started out as a forklift driver and ended up a senator and a senior party official. As I say, he has had a great Labor career. I know he has made a huge contribution to the Transport Workers Union and remains very much committed to the Transport Workers Union. He has made a tremendous contribution to New South Wales and the New South Wales Labor Party, and I think that with his remarks today he showed his continuing passion for the New South Wales Labor Party and its future. As always he was forthright and frank, and that is one of Steve's great attributes; you always knew where you stood. I think a few people today know where they stand, even if they may be standing in a rather uncomfortable spot! It was also clear when he went through his family why he got preselected: there are a good couple of branches' worth in the family, and it is why the strong Catholics have always done well in the Labor Party!
Steve, as I say, gave a tremendous speech today, and I think that what struck me again was the compassion which he brings to the role. I looked at Steve's first speech, and he talked a lot about unemployment and his commitment to employment and opportunities for working people. Today he spoke about poverty with a great deal of passion for those who need our assistance, and he also spoke about the number of Senate inquiries he was involved with, including his very moving recounting of the inquiry into the forgotten Australians and how that moved him. I think his contribution and that of the other senators is a great advertisement for the Senate. It is one of those inquiries where the Senate has been at its best and the senators were at their best.
From my own point of view, I saw Steve Hutchins at his best in the work he did on the Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade inquiry into military justice, which Steve talked about today. Steve took over as chair of that committee, and his sensitivity, sense of justice and compassion, and the way he handled the families who were going through quite cathartic processes and deep distress, was fantastic. While the reforms we advocated following the report have passed, have been implemented and are very important, I think one of the great things about that inquiry was that families got a great deal of satisfaction and comfort from the fact that the Senate took the time to listen. The way Steve dealt with them, his role in the chair and the way he conducted that inquiry did him great credit. So, Steve, I acknowledge you made a fantastic contribution to the Senate committee system and to the Labor Party, and I thank you for that contribution to the cause of Labor.
Steve referred partly and quite quickly to his fight with cancer, and I think that probably allows me to pass a short comment, which is that sometimes as leader I did not know whether he was suffering or not. He never complained, he never sought dispensation and he never asked for any special treatment. In fact, a few times when I had heard he was not well and I asked him to take time off, he refused to take it off, which was a sign of his commitment and the fact that he battled through a really difficult period and great medical challenges with a stoicism that I know I could not have shown. I think many of his colleagues did not actually know what he was going through. It is a great credit to him that he was able to contribute so much in the Senate during periods when he was clearly doing it very tough.
Steve—Stephen Patrick Hutchins; I did not realise the Patrick was there till today—has made a huge contribution to our team in the Senate. He will be missed. But, as I say, he goes to a new stage of his life with a tremendous Labor record. I know he will continue to contribute to the Labor Party in his new state and his new life. All the best, Steve.
Can I also speak about Annette Hurley, who spoke today about her history as a senator and her engagement with the South Australian Labor Party. I was particularly impressed, Annette, when you spoke about how hard it was to get in. We are very glad you finally made it and it was a great benefit to the Labor Party. I think it reflects the fact that having a wider gene pool is a very good thing for the Labor Party. Your different experiences and the skills which you brought to both the South Australian and the federal parliament have been highly valued.
Annette talked about how she had been the member for Napier in Adelaide for eight years and had risen to the position of Deputy Leader of the Opposition in South Australia, where she had earned great deal of respect for her hard work and advocacy for the South Australian Labor Party. But she took the incredible decision to relinquish her safe seat and fight a very difficult seat for the Labor Party, a Liberal held seat, which she lost narrowly. As she pointed out today, if she had won she would have been Deputy Premier of South Australia, because they formed a minority government after the election, although the seat Annette ran for was considered to be the swing seat. It is a tremendous thing to be able to say that Annette made such a selfless act on behalf of the Labor Party and it is a tremendous compliment to her.
Annette, I know you have served the South Australian party as president and served on the national executive and made a huge contribution in the cause of Labor in South Australia. One of most remarkable things is that there are some very good numbers people on both sides in this parliament. I am not sure you are one of them—it has never been a particular focus of your activities—but you are the first one I have heard of who was actually elected to the frontbench before entering parliament. I think that is a remarkable tribute to your organisational abilities. As people might recall, we held open a frontbench position for Annette until she took up her position in the Senate and, as she said today, she did a fantastic job with a great deal of zeal in supporting a strong multicultural policy and racial tolerance in Australia at a very difficult time.
I have regarded Annette as a very solid and effective member of our Senate team. She has carried a huge workload as Chair of the Economics Legislation Committee. I know the number of bills they have had to deal with has been huge, and Annette has provided a huge contribution to the government through her work as chair of that committee. As I say, she has dealt with a huge workload, with very difficult issues, with sometimes some very difficult senators—ours and theirs—and has really made a contribution to the success of the government. She has always done it in a very modest, hardworking style but with a very steely resolve—not a woman to be trifled with! I have certainly appreciated the role Annette has played in this Labor government. We are going to miss her contribution. We wish her all the best in her new endeavours. I think she, too, has had a great Labor career and made a great contribution. We wish Annette a fantastic future.
Turning now to Steve Fielding, who also gave a very passionate and emotional speech, Steve got elected to the Senate in 2005 as a result of a very cunning Labor plan—and I do not think Alan Griffin MHR has been given the credit that he deserves for getting Steve Fielding elected to this parliament. Family First got slightly less than two per cent of the vote but Steve was elected as a result of a complicated preference arrangement, and Kim Carr was very keen for me to mention Alan Griffin's contribution—Alan, if you're listening? Putting that aside, I have always been one of those who have argued that Steve may have got up on a small primary vote but he got up in accordance with Australia's Constitution and deserved to be treated properly and respected as someone who had been elected by the people to serve in this place. And I know he has taken that responsibility very seriously.
He spoke of his family. I cannot imagine coming from a family of 16 kids; I don't know how you would manage to get feed in among that fight. But I know his own family has been very important to him and he always speaks fondly of his kids and their experiences. I know that is very special to him.
Steve has been viewed as being a conservative in this place and has sometimes been at the centre of controversy. That probably goes with the job of being a small party or an Independent in a finely balanced Senate. I think both sides of politics have been frustrated by him, particularly when he does not vote with us. As I say, that is a function of the role he plays in terms of the balances in the Senate, and Senator Xenophon can be pretty frustrating as well from our point of view for that same reason. I think Steve has been pretty hard to classify or put in a particular category because he has voted with both sides on different aspects. I think from our point of view we are most appreciative of the position he took in terms of industrial legislation in this parliament. His critique and opposition to Work Choices and his support for the Fair Work Act is something that the Labor Party and, I think, working people in Australia are very appreciative of.
I know in the last three years Steve has been in the position of contributing to the balance of power in the Senate. I think every senator in that position feels huge pressure in having to vote on every bill on every vote before the Senate. I know those of us who are part of parties appreciate that we can concentrate on various aspects of the parliamentary work but the minors and Independents have to be across it all. I know the pressures that places on people and the huge demand. Generally people who have been in that position, I have seen in this parliament, have aged very quickly as those pressures build.
In spite of all that Steve has maintained good relationships across the chamber. He referred to his admission about his learning difficulty a year or two ago. It was a tremendously brave act and I think all members of the parliament were appreciative that he took a very courageous step. As he pointed out I think it provided great leadership to people with learning disabilities to be able to confront and admit them and to be proud of the contribution they make. I think it was a great measure of leadership to be brave enough to make that public.
Steve also referred to his various sporting injuries. I do not know whether Senator Arbib and Senator Conroy have been hacking him in their regular soccer games but he forever seemed to have an injury. I am a rugby man and soccer seemed to me to always be a bit of a soft game so I could never quite understand how Senator Fielding was always hurt.
The Minister for Sport takes exception to that as do my sons. To Steve I would suggest that maybe he ought to act his age and that his best days are behind him in terms of his soccer career.
Steve also referred to his particular activities, some would call them stunts, designed to attract attention for the causes that he was advocating. I think it is fair to say that I have seen far too much of you, Senator Fielding, and I do not want to see that much of you ever again and I think I speak on behalf of the whole chamber in that regard. The other famous time was when you appeared in a costume which I am told was a beer bottle—it looked like a condom to me and that is how I remember it. I am sure it was in a good cause because, as Steve said, he has consistently argued for action on the excessive consumption of alcohol. That is to his great credit; it is a major problem in our society and he has been right to take a keen interest in promoting more responsible use of alcohol and how we might deal with that as a community so, Steve, that is a great credit to you.
I know you are looking forward to the next stage of your life. We wish you and your family all the best. You have clearly, like all of us, had a great honour and I know you have appreciated that and always respected it and we wish you all the best for your future as well.
This evening we are dispatching the last batch of three senators out of the total of 12 that will be retiring as of 30 June. Tonight, it is two Labor and one Family First. This is largely a night for the Labor Party so the coalition will keep its contribution short but, nevertheless, wants to make some observations about the senators that are leaving us now.
I do confess I used to think I was a bit of a dab hand at giving free character assessments to the Australian Labor Party. I think Senator Hutchins is the undisputed master now and he has clearly trumped any attempts I may have made in the past. Senator Hutchins and I, I was surprised to learn, have similar backgrounds. He used to be a forklift driver and a garbage collector. I happened to be a taxi driver and a farm hand and amongst my duty statement was the requirement of the removal of debris from below caged hens, if you get my drift, so we seem to deal in the same substances. It might explain a lot about both of us.
On the fundamental issues facing society it would be fair to say Senator Hutchins and I and most in the coalition shared a similar approach. He was right to have stood up for those issues. He was right to oppose a bill of rights; he was right to dissent on the territories bill. He was right to advocate a debate on nuclear power. In fact as I go through the list I discover he was Right, very Right; in fact, he was a warrior of the Right. I do not know whether I have to put that in the past tense because I understand that he may have resigned from that faction but I will leave that to the Labor Party.
Just New South Wales I am told so that is good and reassuring to hear because I think he has been a force for good within the labour movement and indeed within the nation. Just recently, I think it was in an adjournment speech, Senator Hutchins talked about what has been described as entryism. If I may quote, he said:
Communism as an ideology was a vehicle for encouraging 'entryism', the political tactic of infiltrating an organisation in order to turn it to another altogether different purpose, and throughout the Cold War the ALP was a destination for many such efforts.
This is the bit I really want to quote. He said:
I suspect the Greens political party understand the concept of entryism all too well. Communism in the ALP took many decades to eradicate and only truly perished with the fall of the Berlin Wall.
He went on to talk about other matters within the ALP. Can I say that I agree with Senator Hutchins about the Greens and entryism. What is more he is right about the Greens. Senator Bob Brown I think in the past has cleverly harnessed but hidden those elements within the Greens. With Senator Hutchins's unfortunate demise he will no longer be able to hide that element, because Senator elect Lee Rhiannon will be joining us.
I daresay I will have plenty of opportunities to make further comments in relation to Senator elect Rhiannon; however, what does sit very uncomfortably with me is that the major parties clothe the Greens with a cloak of respectability by preferencing them before each other. I will repeat what I have said before. I find it somewhat difficult to justify that which my own party did. I am not sure—I have not looked at the figures in recent times—but I understand our allocation of preferences may well have assisted the demise of Senator Hutchins and the rise of Senator elect Rhiannon. If that is the case, I find it very difficult to justify.
Senator Hutchins was a great servant and remains a great servant of the labour movement and his state. We in the coalition wish him very well. If I were to describe him in a phrase, it would be 'a warrior with a soul'. We wish him all the best.
I turn to Senator Hurley. Like Senator Hutchins, I understand she is from the Labor Right, which means she cannot be too bad. She too has a very good record on social issues. I think she was courageous and correct when she suggested we might discuss matters relating to nuclear energy. I confess that I got to know Senator Hurley only in her capacity as chair of the economics committee. She worked hard and diligently. Indeed, her deputy chair, Senator Alan Eggleston, spontaneously on the occasion of the last Senate estimates put on the public record the coalition's appreciation of her work in that committee. I think that speaks volumes for the work she did and about the respect she gained from coalition colleagues.
From time to time I have made guest appearances, if I can describe it as that, at the Senate economics committee and I have heard those accolades. They were well deserved. I will not bother repeating them this evening. I do recall Senator Hurley's, if I am correct, frustrations. She undertook the Fuelwatch inquiry. I chalked up to myself defeating Fuelwatch. I travelled around the country and was able to crunch Fuelwatch. I personally feel that that is one for me. But I can say it was all downhill from there because I also made a guest appearance at the Senate economics committee in relation to a matter that is best forgotten—OzCar. I also recall another occasion when, as deputy leader in this place—they pushed me forward into this chair to make sure I do not have control of Senate question time tactics anymore—I thought it would be a good idea to ask Senator Hurley, as chair of the committee, a question during question time. It would be fair to say and characterise that smart tactic as not having been very successful. Those opposite might understand when I say, not uncharitably however, that I feel somewhat relieved at Senator Hurley's departure from this place—because the score is two to one in her favour.
Senator Hurley, you have done yourself proud and the Labor Party proud. I wish you ongoing success in whatever you turn your hand to after parliamentary life.
Senator Fielding was right to talk about stories, and his entry into this place is a story in itself. To be able to get elected after scoring 1.9 per cent of the vote and representing a very new political party at the time was a feat. I do not know how much Senator Fielding was involved in the preference negotiations, but tonight we have had it revealed that Alan Griffin seemed to have had something to do with it. The new party did to a certain extent encroach on the territory that we as a coalition believed was ours—support for small business, concern about superannuation matters, keeping down the cost of living, opposing a carbon price and many other values with which I personally did not have too much difficulty. In his first speech Senator Fielding said:
… too often decisions made in Canberra do not put families first.
I will say possibly somewhat uncharitably that Senator Fielding in his retirement will have time to reflect whether his decision today actually puts families first in relation to the price they may well have to pay on the carbon tax. Having been uncharitable, allow me to be charitable and say that all is forgiven, given what he said about the Australian Greens and what former senator Don Chipp opined and observed. Former Senator Chipp was right, as were you Senator Fielding.
Whilst we might still bear a bit of discomfort about today in relation to giving students the freedom to undertake tertiary education without having to belong to a student union, your votes were great and courageous. I know a lot of pressure was put on you at that time. I understand you had demonstrations at your office in Victoria et cetera. But those who were aggrieved were those who were on the gravy train, while the overwhelming number of mums and dads forking out that student union fee at the beginning of each year just to gain an entry ticket to university will say that you put their families first by assisting the coalition in getting that policy through.
You also put families first, especially independent contractors and small builders, with your support for the continuation of the Australian Building and Construction Commission. The Cole Royal Commission can leave nobody in doubt that there was a culture of thuggery in our construction industry. Just recently, one of the unions involved in that sector agreed to accept the fine of $1.25 million. That was on their own plea and acknowledgment. That was the price they were willing to pay not to have all the details dragged out in court via hearings and cross-examinations. So your protection of that body has given great comfort and support to all those small contractors, small builders and individual workers.
I could mention other important issues in which you supported the coalition. I know you never viewed it as supporting the coalition; when you did, you viewed it as doing the right thing by your conscience and by the people who had elected you and supported you. On the occasions you voted with us, you did the right thing by the country; when you did not vote with us, I am not so sure you did. But I can say that, no matter how you exercised your vote, I think you did it appropriately. We have to agree to disagree on those occasions that you did not vote with us.
Whilst, undoubtedly, Senator Fielding is disappointed to be leaving us, the simple fact is that, if any of us were offered the opportunity to serve for a period of six years in the Senate, I think we would all take it. Then, if you were told, halfway through, that you might be given the balance of power and really have a say, chances are we would grab it with both hands. And you, Senator Fielding, have had that opportunity and you have exercised it on a number of occasions wisely, sometimes not so wisely in our opinion, but nevertheless in a way that is respectful to the Australian community. We wish you and your family all the best for the future.
I understand informal arrangements have been made with respect to allocating specific times to each speaker in this evening's discussion. So, with the concurrence of the Senate, I will ask the clerks to set the clocks accordingly. I call Senator Faulkner.
I join other senators in wishing all our retiring colleagues well for their non-institutionalised futures. Between all 12 of them, they have chalked up a remarkable 154 years and one month of service in this place. I bet it feels like it at times.
I have known three of our retirees—Senator Kerry O'Brien, Senator Mike Forshaw and Senator Steve Hutchins—since I was a teenager. Senator O'Brien and I were allies in those endless Young Labor factional wars of the 1970s—allies most of the time. Senators Forshaw and Hutchins were my allies—never. But I forgive them. Kerry, let me say to you that I believe you have been a real contributor in this place, a serious and successful exponent of using the great accountability mechanisms of the Senate and using them to real effect. You have been a fine advocate for the cause of Labor.
I first locked horns with Mike Forshaw when I won a knock-down, drag-out battle with the then leadership of the left-wing steering committee in New South Wales to assume the exalted position as a member of the New South Wales ALP disputes committee. I remember arguing then, as the left operative on that committee, at one of the endless hearings into the alleged malfeasance of some hapless party member who had fallen out with the New South Wales head office, with Mike Forshaw that I was standing up for the rights of rank-and-file party members while Mike was just standing up for the rights of the right. It did not do me much good. But, 35 years later, with much water under the bridge, I want to acknowledge this evening on the occasion of Mike Forshaw's retirement what a fine parliamentarian he was and what a contributor he has been. Like Kerry, he was very unlucky not to have served as a minister in a Labor government.
If I were to say that Steve Hutchins and I were always in agreement, I would be summarily frogmarched into the Privileges Committee for contempt of the Senate. For nearly 40 years now, Steve and I have been prominent warriors in opposing New South Wales Labor tribes. Unfortunately, I am the one who regularly ended up in the cooking pot. Although I can report some success back in the late 1970s, when I managed to trounce Steve in a ballot for President of Young Labor, that is just about the end of the success story. Frankly, I must say that when you are my age it is disappointing to reflect that your most recent triumph in a ballot occurred when you were in Young Labor! Steve and I were still contesting ballots decades later.
I listened carefully and appreciated what you said today, Steve, about our most recent ballot at the New South Wales annual conference, which was an unnecessary ballot where we decided at the party conference the party's 2004 New South Wales Senate ticket. As a result of your speech, history will now record that it was not your wish to make that ballot the circus that it became, and I suspect, to be frank, we were all losers in the end.
Steve, you have been a significant figure in both the New South Wales branch of the Australian Labor Party and the federal parliamentary Labor Party. You are a tough player in this game but, as others have said, you have a strong sense of social justice and, of course, commitment to Labor's traditional constituency: working people. I think the term 'old-school Labor' might be an appropriate one for Steve Hutchins and something that he would say would be an appellation he would wear with pride. I read four weeks ago in the Sydney Morning Herald that you were having second thoughts about the New South Wales right. I suppose that all I can say to you on this occasion is that I had woken up to them 40 years before you did!
Steve and Mike are both sons of the Sutherland Shire, where internal Labor Party politics was and is played for keeps. I remember the 1984 federal election, when a left-wing candidate unexpectedly won the preselection for the federal seat of Cook. An extremely prominent right-wing figure was handing out pamphlets in the main street of Cronulla and used these absolutely immortal words: 'To support our candidate's campaign,' he said to the very startled passers-by, 'vote 1 for Labor's socialist left candidate for Cook.' Needless to say, it did not help and our candidate did not win—but that is the nature of the Labor Party in the Sutherland Shire.
This evening I would also like to say just a few words about Nick Minchin. Nick yesterday spoke of his 32 years full-time service to the Liberal Party. All senators, regardless of party affiliation, should acknowledge that this is a remarkable record of service and one he and his party should be proud of. Nick concluded his valedictory speech yesterday with some advice to us about earning respect for integrity, decency, passion, commitment to your ideals and your willingness to do unto others as you would have them do unto you. So much of our effective parliamentary and broader political management, particularly in the Senate, must be done outside the chamber, so over the years I have found myself on quite a number of occasions in a back room with Nick Minchin. While I have very little in common with his political philosophy—in fact, some of it appears positively extraterrestrial to me—I can say what I consider to be very high praise: Nick Minchin has always been honourable in his dealings, his word has been his bond and what you see is what you get. So, Nick, let me say as a political opponent: my experience is that, to your credit, you have always followed your own advice.
My best wishes go to my colleagues Mike, Steve, Kerry, Dana and Annette, and all who are retiring next week.
I thank Senator Joyce for allowing me to speak ahead of him. I join with all my colleagues in wishing all retiring senators well and to say that I hope this next stage in their lives is rewarding and fulfilling. I want to make some very brief remarks tonight focusing on the couple of South Australian colleagues.
Before I do that I want to, because he has spoken tonight, say something about Steve Hutchins. When I came into the Senate I knew Steve Hutchins as one of those scary right-wing hard men. He was not that scary, actually. In fact, I found Steve, as he has demonstrated in the work he has done here as well as in his speech tonight, a right-wing hard man with a compassionate heart. He is also somebody who showed enormous personal courage to be in this place through his illnesses. I wish him and his wife all the very best.
I also wanted to very briefly say something about Senator Nick Minchin, who has been another hard man of the right. I said when I was yesterday publicly asked by journalists to make some comment about Senator Minchin that, despite our differences of views, I think he is a man who keeps his word and honours his beliefs. I sometimes wish he had not fought so hard to honour his beliefs. I certainly wished that at the time he was participating in the rolling of Malcolm Turnbull after Mr Turnbull had done a deal with me—but anyway. That is history. He certainly was very effective, and I wish him all the very best in the future. As a South Australian Labor senator, I want to make some comments in relation to Senator Annette Hurley. It is important to place on record that Senator Hurley is one of the senior figures of South Australian Labor and one of our most senior women. Her achievements have been substantial. She has held a range of positions and some very senior positions, which, I think, confirm the regard with which she is held in the South Australian branch. She has been not only a state member of parliament for many years prior to coming to this place but also deputy leader of our party in the state parliament during some very difficult times for South Australian Labor. It is no small thing to be the deputy leader of the party. She did that job extraordinarily well.
Senator Hurley has brought a number of qualities to her political career which I want to remark on. The first is that, in a profession that is not short of egos, she is somebody who puts her party and her group before herself. A hallmark of her career has been the fact that she has not made it all about her, as I think this profession sometimes causes people to do. She has been intrinsically a team player, both in the South Australian parliament, with the seats that the party has asked her to run for, and also in this place.
The second quality is that she has been extraordinarily calm in some very difficult circumstances. As a minister who has had to appear before the Economics Committee, I have been most grateful for the fact that she has stayed calm and grounded amidst some pretty lively discussion, some of which has been rather public.
So I place on record my personal thanks to Senator Hurley for her contribution to Labor but particularly South Australian Labor, and I also want to ensure that this place recognises that she is a very senior person in South Australia who has made a very significant contribution. I wish her well in the future.
I join with all of my colleagues to wish all of our senators, but particularly our Labor senators—Annette Hurley, Kerry O'Brien, Dana Wortley, Steve Hutchins and Mike Forshaw—all the very best for the future.
I want to briefly add to the remarks made by other senators. Steve Fielding has been an absolutely extraordinary endowment to this parliament. At times Steve and I are soul mates, mainly on ethical issues, and at other times we are in serious disagreement. Steve, there are many things they can say about you, but boring will never be one of them. Your speech tonight took people through all of the emotions, from joy to hilarity to poignancy. What can we say about a person who has been seen in the news pushing a shopping trolley, dressed up as Santa and dressed up as a bottle? It is your peculiar way of doing things, but it was for effect and I have no doubt you had your heart in every moment of it.
I would also like to commend your wife, Sue, who is in the gallery. The wives and partners of parliamentarians seem to do a vastly better job of finding the camaraderie that we should possibly find more easily amongst ourselves. I commend Sue and Steve and wish you all the best in your future. It was right that you were elected to the Senate. You have had that great honour, and I have no doubt that sometime in the future we will see you again. Until such time, I wish you and Sue all the very best.
I move to Annette and Bob. Bob, Annette's partner, is one of the great pillars of the partners' group. I am sure we will all be sad to see Annette go, but the partners will be very sad to see Bob go. I remember a trip to Sarajevo, I think, and a certain cultural peculiarity whereby all the men sat at one table and all the women sat at a lower table, at our feet. Annette was not having a bar of that, but Bob was quite happy because he was sitting with us. Both Bob and Annette made it to the high table. It was always fun to get on a plane and find Bob. He did not mind having a champers before he got on the plane and he did not mind having one after he got off, so he is a great bloke to go flying with.
We wish you all the best. It was great to have a scientist here and someone of Annette's discipline. During my time on the Economics Committee, when we were doing our very best to make life as hard as we possibly could for the Labor Party—that was our job—your job was to stop us and you were generally successful, so I am glad you are going!
Steve Hutchins and I have an unusual link: we are both descendants of Irish orphans who came to this nation. There is a memorial near St Mary's church marking my forebear Mary Troy, both of whose parents starved to death in a hedge during the Irish famine. Steve is also a very strong part of that community. On that score, we have a link that will continue long after Steve leaves this place.
In the National Party we have always admired Steve. We always thought that, if you threw all the Labor parliamentarians up in the air and they all came down and made their way to certain corners of the chamber, Steve would be a fair bet to end up with the National Party—though maybe our agrarian socialism would scare him away!
Steve, it has also been great to have a chance on the odd occasion to go down to the Grail—where you were almost attached to the hip with Bisho. It was great to catch up with you. We always thought he was a very reasonable, honest and straight-up-and-down person. Now that you are leaving here I think you can give us your honest opinion on such things as global warming, and we look forward to that op-ed appearing in the Australian. I will do everything in my power to get you to write it.
Like Forshaw, faith, family and the Labor Party were epitomised by people such as you, Steve. I think that is honestly where the Labor Party had its greatest strength, and you will be sadly missed around here, mate.
I thank Minister Arbib for letting me squeeze in. I have a function to attend, but I could not leave without saying a few words—firstly, to Steve Fielding. He and I came in as part of the class of 2004. Steve, you never were short of a stunt, but I have to tell you, mate, that when I saw you without a shirt on you gave me hope. You actually made me feel human. I am still trying to work out how you got injured at tennis, mate—but that is coming from a bloke who played Aussie rules. Good luck to you, mate, and your family.
Annette is another one from the class of 2004. We do actually form a special bond when we come in—and I see Senator Adams nodding. We were told very clearly by our Senate leaders that we would form these bonds with the class on both sides of the chamber, and we have. There is no doubt about that. We are going to miss you, Annette. I want to throw this out for everyone: as a scientist who actually worked in a roadhouse, you and I have got a lot in common. There is no doubt about that. I do honour and I have admired you, Annette, in giving up a safe seat. I have got to tell you that you are right: there are not many people who would follow your lead in the best interests of the Labor Party. I know you are going to enjoy your time with Bob, who truly is—to echo Senator Joyce's words—a damn good bloke. You have had a win, mate, and we have had a loss. I know you will enjoy your future with Bob and Patrick. Good luck, Annette.
I promised I would be quick, but I am not going to let Hutcho get away without me throwing my thoughts onto the table. As I said earlier, when I do write my book, I will change the names to protect the guilty, Hutcho, and I will ask you to do the foreword under your assumed identity as well. We met at the races in Perth. I cannot remember when it was. All I know is that Hutcho was drunk, because he was all fuzzy around the edges and as the day went on he got fuzzier.
Hutcho and I cut our teeth in the Transport Workers Union—Hutcho as a garbo and a forkie and me as a furniture removalist. He beat me once again—I envied him because at least he could not damage his freight, which I seemed to manage to do quite successfully. Hutcho was a very successful New South Wales state secretary. I came on board with the federal committee of management as a brash young smartie who thought he knew everything about trucking. Not much has changed, Hutcho, except my hair is starting to go grey too. Hutcho was also our federal president.
Those within the TWU family will know this, but I want to let those outside know that two of the greatest people in the history of the Transport Workers Union are Senator Steve Hutchins—and I say that from the heart—and a good mate of Hutcho's and mine, Johnny Allan. John was our federal president. Hutcho and John actually reformed the Transport Workers Union. They took us from seven warring factions for all the time that we were tied up there to form a strong, powerful union that put dignity in organising at the forefront. Well done, Hutcho. You will never be forgotten for that, mate, especially by me.
I cannot let the following story slip of when Hutcho was diagnosed with cancer. One of my best mates, Jimmy Jim McGiveron, is also a great mate of Hutcho's. Jimmy, Hutcho and I have formed a very close bond that nothing will break. Through our federal council years, when Hutcho was diagnosed, we all felt it and we were really worried about our mate. But when you got on the road to recovery, Hutcho, we were not ignoring, you, mate; we were just damn well dodging you—because you have never seen a cancer survivor realise that he is going to have another crack!
I will leave it at that. Hutcho, you deserve to party like the animal that you were—not are; were. Good on you, mate. I wish you and Natalie all the very best in your new life. I am also told that the secret is out of the bag: that the young x-man has gone off the Aussie rules. I have a drawing from when he first went down to Melbourne. I think he drew himself as a Sydney Swan. Being the great mate that I am, I am going to step in, mate. I have got a Geelong jumper, a Geelong pair of shorts and a Geelong pair of socks that will fit him. We will convert him. We will not let him go back to that silly game that you were brought up on.
On that, we are looking forward to telling a few tall tales later I believe at the Holy Grail with the Bishop. I will be there. Thank you very much, Minister, for letting me squeeze in. Hutcho, I am not saying farewell, mate, because you are not leaving us—but, crikey, I am going to bloody miss you, mate. Sorry, did I say 'bloody'?
I rise to pay respect to the three senators tonight and to pay my respects to and thank Senator Ferguson, Senator Minchin and Senator McGauran for the work they have done and for their speeches last night.
Tonight I pay respect to Senator Hurley for what she has done in her time here and also in the South Australian parliament. While I have not spent much time professionally with Senator Hurley, I have been in awe of her chairing of the Economics Committee—one of the toughest committees, with the most detailed legislation. Her chairing of that committee has been inspirational, under some very, very tough and difficult debates. I wish her and her family luck in the future. To Senator Fielding: I have to apologise because I have cursed your name so many times in this parliament and out of this parliament on a number of votes that you undertook with the coalition, but I have to say that, over time, you have grown on me. I am one of the people who has spent a great deal of time with you on the sporting field, in either football, squash—and I still have not beaten you in a game of squash—or touch football. Without doubt, you are the most outstanding athlete in this place. It is my understanding that, even today, you are the squash champion of the parliament, so I congratulate you on that.
Largely—and you have said this before as well—you have been a misunderstood politician. You are someone who has great convictions. In many ways you are extremely conservative, but at the same time you are extremely compassionate. When I look at your voting record, I can understand where you come from as a politician. From the side of Labor, I see that you voted against Work Choices, you voted for the stimulus and you protected and saved thousands of jobs. We worked closely together in terms of the Getting Communities Working program. I know how committed you were to that. You fought for pension increases—but I, too, add my voice: it would have been better if you had kept your shirt on—and you fought for unit pricing. So you really did represent families and working people. I thank you for that. It must have been a lonely place for a single senator in this chamber, but you should be very proud of the work you have done.
To Senator Hutchins, two minutes and 27 seconds will not give me enough time to talk about my feelings on losing you in the Senate. It is a very sad day for me, seeing you give your last speech here. We have had our moments. We can both admit that. You have been a very close and dear friend to me for a long period of time. You gave me my first job in the Labor movement. You told me at the time that this is a five-to-nine job, not a nine-to-five job, and you were so right.
I have to say that, having watched you as secretary of the TWU, as far as I am concerned and knowing a little bit about the history of the TWU, there will be no greater secretary than you. In the disputes for increasing the pay of transport workers and owner-drivers, you really were a warrior. You were a warrior that succeeded in so many ways. So many people can thank their livelihood on the work you did as secretary of that organisation, but also as an organiser and an assistant secretary. We should be very thankful. In the Senate, you always stood proud by your Labor roots and you fought many times to preserve the conditions of Australians, through fighting Work Choices and in legislation that we passed in this house. We should be very thankful for that.
You have a wicked sense of humour. I still remember the day when I was giving my inaugural speech in this chamber and I noticed that my speech had gone missing. There could be only be one person who would take an inaugural speech and that was, of course, Senator Hutchins. I will never forget that moment.
You did give it back, just before I spoke. Steve, I will truly miss you. I will miss your friendship and I will miss the time we spent together. You are so right: the New South Wales branch and I would have loved for you to have stayed in the No. 2 spot. You made the decision in the best interests of the party, and I thank you for that. I wish you luck into the future.
S itting suspended from 18:17 to 18:46
It is a curious coincidence that most of the departing senators are members of the Australia-Ireland Parliamentary Friendship Group. As they say, there are only two kinds of people in the world, the Irish and those who wish they were. Tonight I would like to begin these farewells with the outgoing chair of the friendship group, my good friend Senator Michael Forshaw. Senator Forshaw has spoken about his work—mostly well out of the limelight—over his years in the Senate. Politics is to some extent a labour of love, a matter of chosen values opted for and stood for. A product of staunch Irish freedom fighters and servant of the AWU, he has served working people all his life, through brain rather than brawn. As Seamus Heaney wrote in his poem Digging:
But I've no spade to follow men like them.
Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests.
I'll dig with it.
Also known for his fondness for Ireland is Senator the Hon. Alan Ferguson. Consider, if you would, Ireland's national drink, Guinness. It is, as we all know, more than a drink; it is a memorable experience, distinctive, something to be savoured. It commands our respect. When pouring a Guinness you cannot rush it. You must wait till it settles, then top it up and wait some more. In time, all those orphan bubbles unite to form a creamy top on a fine, strong base. What you end up with is—like the good senator himself—a substantial presence with a magnificent white head, the product of years of dedication, knowledge and skill: an experience like none other. A drink like that, or indeed a decent Jameson, is enough to move a man to song, and it is known that occasionally Senator Ferguson has been moved to entertain a delegation or two with a fine rendition of Carrickfergus. Thank you, Alan Ferguson, for all you have done here. Yours has been a wonderful contribution to public life.
Senator Steve Fielding, who we heard from this evening, does not come from a long line of politicians—quite the contrary. His background is, like that of so many Australians, a very modest one, and I am sure that as a young man he never imagined that he would be representing his fellow Australians in this place. I want to acknowledge that it took some courage for him to step forward to lead the Family First party. He had no way of knowing precisely what was in store for him when he embarked on this phase of his life. As Sean O'Casey so memorably remarked, 'All the world's a stage, and most of us are desperately unrehearsed.'Senator Fielding stepped up and took his place on that stage, aided by a few good props, and withstood criticism with good grace. So I thank him for his efforts and, in consideration of his sporting injuries, which we heard about tonight, want to extend his repertoire and introduce him to this Irish prayer:
May those who love us, love us;
and those who don't love us,
may God turn their hearts;
and if He doesn't turn their hearts,
may he turn their ankles
so we'll know them by their limping.
Senator Guy Barnett leaves us to pursue his commitment to improving the health outcomes of Australians. In his speech he captured all that had motivated him in public life. The Barnetts moved to County Cork in Ireland as privileged landowners, and the first Barnetts arrived in Australia in the early 1800s. It will not be lost on Guy, as a Tasmanian, that his name derives from living off the land having cleared the forest by burning! I wish him success in his new life and all that it brings.
I am also sad to say goodbye to Senator Judith Troeth, whose heritage is actually Scottish. Her Irish roots, though a bit obscure, are through the derivation of her name 'Troeth' from 'Troth', or 'truth'. When Judith stands for something, she does not count the cost, and, when the chips are down, she simply refuses to compromise. In her 17 years in the Senate she has shown what it means to be principled and compassionate. Her championing of the cause of asylum seekers made a deep mark on me, and I thank her for her steadfastness and sense of purpose and for the example of Australian womanhood that she has provided to our young people.
She may well in fact be distantly related to Senator Russell Trood—which is another variation of the Troeth family name, originally from Berkshire. They too took up land in Ireland. Russell's experience in areas of international relations and foreign policy is widely recognised, and his curiosity about the world in all its variety and wonder has inspired all his working life, not just his last six years in the Senate. So it stands to reason that he would include Ireland among his interests. I wish him lots of interesting travels in his retirement. If it is not too Irish to put it this way: he hasn't been everywhere, but it's on his list! But a busy man must take time to rest, and I would like to farewell Senator Trood with a few words from Patrick Kavanagh's Lines Written on a Seat on the Grand Canal, Dublin:
O commemorate me where there is water,
Canal water, preferably, so stilly
Greeny at the heart of summer. Brother
Commemorate me thus beautifully
Where by a lock niagarously roars
The falls for those who sit in the tremendous silence
I hope he finds himself in a very good place in mid-July. Now I come to Senator Julian McGauran. It is widely reported around Ballymagaurin in Tullyhall, County Cavan, that the McGaurans are a ferociously tenacious clan. We certainly saw that in Senator McGauran's fight for East Timor and in his adherence to his convictions throughout his career. The McGaurans are also reputed to have a great gift with horses and to be lucky at the track, so the senator's early career in the stables of Bart Cummings was formative. Certainly he is one of the very few people in this country to be given the legal right to ride a horse into St Patrick's Cathedral in Melbourne and, incidentally, to pardon a condemned criminal if he should meet one on the way to the gallows—courtesy of his investiture as a knight of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, one of the two remaining crusader orders and the oldest, formed in 1099. Well, as they say in Ireland, there's more to being a knight than a horse, a sword and a lance, and in farewelling Senator McGauran I would like to thank him for his chivalrous qualities of courage, honour and justice, and congratulate him on regaining his Irish citizenship.
We come now to Senator Steve Hutchins, heading for pastures green in Victoria. Another senator of proud Irish stock, Steve has been an amazing advocate for the bruised and the broken, as we heard tonight, through his work on the community affairs committee. I know that, as a De La Salle boy, well schooled in the injustices of Irish history, he attributes his passion for egalitarianism to the stories he heard at his father's knee, and the glorious rebel songs that were part of his childhood, as they were of my own. For him, an Irish prayer: 'God grant me the hindsight to know where I've been, the foresight to know where I'm going, and the insight to know when I've gone too far.'
There is no question of course about Senator Kerry O'Brien's ethnic origins. O'Brien—descended from Brian Boru, the last great high king of Ireland and his home in Ballingarry. Although his deeds were legendary he was very much a real man, a man's man. Immortalised in the Battle of Clontarf in 1014, he rooted out corruption and skulduggery and unified the regional leaders of the country—a very fitting forebear for Senator O'Brien, given his forensic work in regional policy and in uncovering rural rorts in this country. So, Kerry, I thank you for your friendship and support, and the fun we had on the regional and rural affairs committee.
Senator Annette Hurley shares her surname with the national sport of Ireland. The game of 'hurley' has been played for at least 3,000 years. It is still played throughout the world, and is very popular among the members of the Irish diaspora here in Australia. There is a longstanding family tradition of parliamentary service in the Hurley line: back in 1585, Thomas Hurley attended Perrot's parliament, and this fine family has been fighting for the rights of the underdog ever since. The Hurleys in Ballinacarriga were dispossessed for siding with the rebels in the fight for Irish freedom. So the efforts that Senator Hurley has made on behalf of battlers dealing with the intricacies of immigration, superannuation and Centrelink, her work with health reform and on the Senate Economics Committee are a continuation of a fine legacy. Best wishes, Annette, and thank you for your friendship.
And although Wortley is not a name we associate with Ireland, her first name, Dana, certainly is. The people of the Goddess Dana are the famous Irish fairy folk, the Sidhe. Like Senator Fielding, she never anticipated when she was growing up that a political future awaited her; it was her sheer commitment to a truly equal society that brought her to this place, where she has made a name for herself as a champion of the disadvantaged and particularly for her work promoting cybersafety among young people.
Finally, I come to Senator Minchin. While there is no ostensible Irish connection here, I just have to look at the twinkle in his eye, and think of his ingenuity and resourcefulness, his cunning and the sheer power of his wits, and I think of the Sidhe, and in particular of the leprechaun. In my childhood, stories of leprechauns abounded. They are famously difficult to capture, and if one ever does get caught, he invariably gets away. I will admit that Senator Minchin differs from a leprechaun in stature, and he does not sport a beard anymore, but anyone who saw the photo of him in the Adelaide Advertiser will see the connection. And we should never underestimate the sheer cleverality of a leprechaun's mind: as my dad used to say, 'Give him enough rope, and he'll hang you.' His valedictory speech was witty and revealing, and I certainly wish him well as the convenor of the Friends of Carbon Dioxide Society.
I will finish now, because, as the Irish say, 'a silent mouth is sweet to hear.' Tomorrow, the current Australia-Ireland parliamentary group will meet for the last time, at the luncheon to farewell our departing Irish ambassador. I will miss them and I will miss him, and the Australia-Ireland group will not be the same. So: slainte agus saol agaibh, agus bas in Eireann!
Previously I have spoken of the contributions of Senator O'Brien, Senator Forshaw and Senator Wortley, and I will not go over that again tonight, except to hold to those remarks.
On Senator Hurley: Senator Annette Hurley has had a distinguished career for more than 20 years in the labour movement, both in South Australia and here in Canberra. She has held high office in both Adelaide and Canberra, served on the national executive and done a sterling job as chair of the Senate Economics Legislation Committee. I wish her and Bob all the best in their retirement—well, in the paths they choose to pursue in forthcoming years!
I now turn to Senator Steve Hutchins. I have known Steve Hutchins since the late seventies or early eighties. In some respects we followed a similar career path, although on different sides of the continent: firstly being active at university; then associating with and joining various ideological or philosophical groups that were relevant at the time; spending time in the trade union movement, at Harvard University in the United States, and then coming to this place in 1996 and 1998 respectively. Steve, there are a lot of anecdotes or stories that I would love to tell, but I will confine my remarks tonight to the relatively G-rated ones, to highlight two aspects of your character, and leave some of the other material perhaps to other forums at a later hour of the night.
Firstly, let me talk of Steve's particular method of operation, his modus operandi, because he is a person who is quiet and thoughtful and thinks far ahead, and who generally achieves his purpose by making suggestions to others. I recall that, about this time last year, or perhaps a couple of weeks earlier—52 weeks plus two—he said to me, 'What are you doing next Saturday?' I said, 'I'm going home.' He said, 'Why don't you come up to Sydney? We've got a by-election there in Penrith and we need some help in handing out how-to-vote cards.' I thought at the time that was an odd request; surely they had enough people to hand out how-to-votes in Penrith, but I said to myself I would go there. I went up there and I was on the polling booths from about 10 am till about 3 pm, when I came back to Canberra. After about an hour or so it was quite clear what the outcome in Penrith was going to be. I think we were polling about 25 per cent, the Greens were polling about 25 per cent, the Libs who were challenging were up around 50 or 55 per cent and the writing was clearly on the wall. I have one particular memory of that day. A little old lady slowly walked up the path outside school and I was one of the first handers-out. This lady came to me and as she approached I said, 'Australian Labor Party how to vote, ma'am.' She stopped and looked me up and down and said: 'Thank you, but not today, son—perhaps another time.' It was about an hour into the process and I thought then that we were done, as it turned out to be.
When I came back to Canberra, on the Sunday and Monday I told a few stories to colleagues. During those 24 or 48 hours, 25 or 30 people wandered around to my office to get my take on what was happening that day. I told them my impressions of what was happening in Penrith as an outsider, and I think that had some bearing on events later that week or early the next week. The point of the yarn is that I suspect all that which was about to occur had been anticipated by Steve Hutchins when he asked me and Senator Farrell to go there and hand out how-to votes that day. That was his way of operating.
I have another story about how he works in this place. He is a particularly quiet, effective and charming operator in a lot of respects. I recall around four or five years ago there was a vacancy on the front bench of the Labor Party. We were still in opposition and the powers that be had determined who was going to win the eventual position. It was a right-wing position and they had made it clear who they wanted to get on to the front bench. Shortly after that was made clear, Senator Collins wandered around to my office and said: 'I would like to go on to the front bench. Can you give me a hand?' I said, 'I'll see what I can do, Jacinta.' I ran into Senator Hutchins later and said, 'Steve, I want a yarn with you.' He said, 'What about?' I said, 'Jacinta wants it.' He said: 'I'll see what I can do. I'll talk to Leo.' He came back to me later that afternoon and said: 'I've raised the issue. It's going to be hard, Mark, but we'll see what happens.' Jacinta was pressing fairly strongly to know the outcome of discussions and that went on for a week or so while there was no resolution.
We had the ballot scheduled for midday on a particular day. About half past 10 or 11, Steve came around to my office and said, 'You know that matter you raised with me?' I said, 'Yes.' He said, 'How many votes do you want?' I said, 'I want six.' He said, 'You can't have six; you can have four.' I said, 'I need six.' He said, 'Four's enough.' We went into the ballot and the outcome was 21 to 20. The outcome was delivered and Senator Collins went on to the front bench. As we know, she has been reappointed by the Prime Minister in later years.
Steve is quite deserving of my final comment. He is, as has been outlined to everyone, shifting down to Melbourne in a month or so. His wife is a member of the opposition in Victoria, and they are going to do their best down there. Steve is a typical New South Wales person. He thinks and believes in his heart that Australia ends and begins at New South Wales' northern, southern and western borders and the rest is populated by nice people but largely unexplored. There is some justice in the fact that he has to live in Victoria!
I am particularly reminded of that by a bitterly cold weekend some years ago when we were both in Canberra with our families and it was -3 degrees on a Saturday afternoon. I said to him I had a couple of tickets for the footy—the West Coast Eagles were playing North Melbourne. I suspect his wife is now an avid supporter of Essendon, the Western Bulldogs or some team out there in the western suburbs, but then she was an avid supporter of North Melbourne. We all went to the footy together. About three-quarters of the way through the match I leant over to him because he had been passing rude comments about Australian rules. I said to him, 'What do you think of that?' He said: 'I think one thing: I think our Indigenous are doing better than your Indigenous.' That was his comment on Australian rules football. I think there is some justice in his now having to go down to Melbourne town and live where they talk and breathe nothing other than Australian rules.
I was asked to be brief—I have not quite respected that. Steve, you have been a very good friend, a more than able ally, and a very capable operator in Labor Party and labour movement terms. You are much respected; you are much liked. You have served well your faith, your family, your union and your party. I wish you, Natalie and your extended family all the very best in forthcoming years.
I start by wishing Senator Fielding all the best. I was here for only three years of his six years in the parliament, and I would like to extend best wishes to him. More particularly I would like to talk about the two Labor senators who are retiring on this occasion. In a sense it is a pity that we are doing these valedictory statements as a collective, but from my own point of view these two people are quite intertwined because I met both of them in that Orwellian year of 1984. I met Senator Hutchins when the first snowflakes were falling in Boston and together we did the Harvard TUCP course. I met Senator Hurley later in that year at, I think, the first ALP conference she attended in South Australia. That was during the halcyon years of the Hawke prime ministership. My own union in Victoria had reaffiliated to the Labor Party, but we were not well received in certain sections of the Labor Party back then. To her credit Senator Hurley, who had just come back from a bit of inculcation from the much-maligned New South Wales Right, decided to come and sit at the SDA table at the ALP conference. That was a very brave thing to do at that time, but I have never forgotten it. It was so characteristic of her subsequent career and the bravery that she displayed throughout that political career.
With respect to Steve Hutchins, when I met him we were, as I said, at Harvard. It always amazed me that he had such a grasp of all of the subject matter that we were studying. We would spend long hours at the boathouse. I would go into that in more detail, but it would be inappropriate at this particular forum and, like Senator Bishop, I am hopeful that we will get another chance to go into more detail. Senator Hutchins looks very relieved at that suggestion. This was a man with a rugged exterior that belied the sharpness of his mind. Steve's political genius, I would call it, was on display in full at Harvard, and it is no surprise to me that, in the 30 or 40 years that he was battling Senator Faulkner's Left, he always won those battles. This is a bloke who not only read history but also understood it in a way that most people do not. You do not come across many people, even at this highest level of politics, who really understand how history works, how politics works, but this man did understand that. He has talked about his health so I raise that topic. I think that but for the problems he had with his health he would have gone to the very highest levels of the political party.
You could say the same about Annette Hurley. It was not health that caused her problems. She was prepared to put the party before herself in the 2002 election in South Australia. We needed to win one seat, the seat of Light, in order to get government and we knew how we were polling in the other seats. It was a risk that almost no other politician would have been prepared to take, but Annette was prepared to take that risk. It did cost her the deputy leadership of the party and therefore the deputy premiership of the party, and how differently things might have ended up in South Australia had she got the extra few votes that she needed to win that seat—which has now become a relatively safe Labor seat. She was just one election too early in making that shift. One of the greatest tragedies of the last parliament was that she was not given the opportunity to serve in a ministerial capacity, as I believe she was entitled to do. I think that is one of the great travesties that have occurred in this party.
I wish both Senator Hurley and Senator Hutchins all the best. I hope to be able to continue to see both of them, and their families and partners, well into the future. Good luck and congratulations on a fantastic political career.
I rise this evening to wish all my departing colleagues all the best for their futures. Senator Kerry O'Brien, thank you for being an understanding whip to new senators. I very much appreciate the role that you played as I came in as a new senator. I will recall Senator Hutchins and Senator Forshaw mostly as being part of my introduction to the greater Australian Labor Party as the diverse national organisation that it is. It took me a little while to distinguish one grey-haired man from the other across the parliament; but you two I managed to sort out from each other very quickly, you will be pleased to know.
Senator Hurley, you have been an amazing chair in the economics committee. We have had some extraordinary experiences, as you have reflected on this evening, right from the OzCar affair, and it really has been an amazing experience. We have done a huge number of reports and I know what an incredibly significant workload you carried. I thank you very much for guiding me through that and for being such an excellent chair. To Senator Dana Wortley, thank you for your friendship. It was a pleasure to work with you on the cybersafety committee. I think you have laid the foundations for some really significant work.
To my colleagues on the other side of the House: Senator Troeth in particular, with respect to the principles within the Parliamentary Group on Population and Development, it is incredibly important when the views in parliament are so contested that we have the opportunity to have strong bipartisan relationships on these significant issues. I thank you for that. I would like to acknowledge Senator Barnett, whom I usually have diametrically opposed opinions to. My experience with him on the legal and constitutional affairs committee provided for me what is notable about Senate committees, which is: when you listen to the experiences of Australians, you can actually make mutual decisions based on what is in their best interests and move forward.
I have things to say about all our departing colleagues, but I would like my colleague Senator Carol Brown to get the call before we finish this evening, so I will finish with a quote:
Man's feelings are always purest and most glowing in the hour of meeting and of farewell
On that note, I would like to thank all departing senators for their valedictory speeches and say what a pleasure they have been to listen to.
(Victoria—) (): The incorporated speech read as follows—
"Hutcho", as he will always be known, is a Lion of Labor. As his speech tonight typified, he is a man who is fearless, outspoken, compassionate, and imbued with the values and traditions of the ALP and the Labor movement.
I first met Hutcho in 1994, when I joined the Transport Workers' Union of Australia as a Federal Industrial Officer. It was a mighty opportunity for me, and I am ever grateful for it. Although I was a federal official of the union, and Hutcho was the NSW secretary, there was no doubt that Hutcho was the political and industrial 'force of nature' that led us. My immediate boss, Federal Secretary John Allan, was proud to be a friend and confidant of Steve Hutchins.
In those days Hutcho was a deity. Junior minions like I approached him with awe, and the opportunity to have a beer with him was like Christmas.
The 15% wages campaign of 1994-1995 was a tour de force, and certainly one of Hutcho's great achievements as a Union leader. Hutcho's contribution to the union echoes loudly in the TWU today—he forever remains the patriarch of the TWU family. Its single minded and united character, and the TWUs transformation from being many fractious State and Territory tribes into a single national voice for its members was Hutcho's project.
Although Senator Hutchins is well known as an outspoken voice within the ALP, he receives too little recognition for his other formidable skills; an unerring instinct for the hopes and aspirations of Labor supporters, a formidable negotiator, a persuasive lobbyist and someone who shapes the political environment profoundly—even if often invisibly.
There have been a few occasions when I have defied Hutcho's advice. I've had cause to regret them. His political judgement has often survived the test of time better than mine.
I know that Steve Hutchins married well. His wife, Natalie Sykes, is a long-time friend of mine, from Young Labor days. In obliging Hutcho to move to Melbourne, she has done our great State a service. As a Victorian, you will all observe in upcoming months how Hutcho has become smarter, stronger and better looking.
The parliament is a big place, home to some 3,500 people during sitting weeks. Yet, as we all know, not withstanding that, it can be a lonely place. Today I lose a mate, and this place will now be a little more lonely for me.
Senator Annette Hurley is a former Party Official in SA, as well as a former Party president and member of the National Executive. I have always regarded former Party officials as being a higher calibre of political animal; people who are steeped in the values and traditions of their party, people of organisational skill motivated by political conviction; people for whom the words loyalty and discipline still matter a great deal.
It will always be a remarkable act of sacrifice and courage that as the Deputy Leader of the Parliamentary Labor Party in SA, Annette Hurley chose to run as the ALP Candidate in Light. Rather than run in a seat where the ALP vote was weighed, rather than counted, Annette put her career on the line in her resolve to win government.
It was that same resolve that led to me receiving a phone call from Annette Hurley in early 2005 asking me if I was willing to serve as the ALP Campaign Director in SA for 2005-2006. After having been assisted in exiting my position as ALP Campaign Director in Victoria in December 2002 by Kim Carr and other gentle souls, I was thrilled to re-join the campaign trail. My time in SA was a joy and a privilege, and I know very well that the Party in SA is strong and vibrant. Your share in that success, Senator Hurley, should fill you with great pride.
I wish you and your husband Bob Korbell all the very best for the future.
I would like to take this opportunity to add my words of appreciation to the senators retiring from the government benches.
Senator Kerry O'Brien first entered this place in 1996, almost 15 years ago, and he has certainly left his mark in this chamber, in the party and in the community he represented. Kerry has been a passionate advocate for Tasmania and for rural and regional Australia. He was heavily engaged in grassroots and community groups. In his role as the national duty senator for Lyons he worked very closely with his parliamentary colleague Dick Adams, federal member for Lyons, to service what is a vast electorate in Tasmania.
His policy work, knowledge and insight across a range of areas, from primary industries, fisheries and forestry through to aviation safety has been an immense support to the party and the parliament. Through his work on the Senate Standing Committee on Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport, Kerry has ensured that rural, regional and transport issues from across Australia were well represented in the parliament and informed future policy.
As a staffer, I well remember Kerry's work throughout 1998 in gathering evidence through the Senate committee process from questions to department officers and ministers on the waterfront dispute and the then Howard government's role in that dispute. The answers were carefully framed but enough came out because of Kerry's work for the Labor opposition to begin pulling together the threads of the government's strategy. I also want to echo the sentiments of Senator Sherry when he reflected on the contributions and sacrifices that Kerry made to serve the Senate, the parliament and his party.
Senator Dana Wortley, I have very much enjoyed our time together in parliament, and also many of the times we spent outside of this place. I first met Dana in September 2005 when I came to this place and we immediately struck up a friendship. Dana has an easy, straightforward manner and makes all efforts to ensure those around her are contented. I do not think it is allowed to be down or glum in Dana's presence. Your energy, advice and insight into parliamentary debate, in the caucus and around the dinner table, helped to make the past six years incredibly memorable.
Dana has proven to be a senator with integrity and dedication, diligently pursuing issues of interest to her and to her home state of South Australia. Whilst I cannot say that I was there personally to witness your sporting prowess—and despite all attempts by you for me to exhibit my netballing skills—I have been told that you were a key part of the parliamentary netball team, despite your size. Your work in Vision 2020 Australia has been vitally important, and I hope that you will continue your passionate advocacy for the elimination of avoidable blindness. It was pleasing to see Vision 2020 Australia at their annual dinner on Monday night pay tribute formally to recognise your role and efforts in raising awareness of eye health and vision care.
I also know that Dana has been honoured to chair the very important Joint Select Committee on Cyber-Safety. Dana tabled a significant report yesterday, entitled, High-wire act: cyber-safety and the young,which has made a number of important recommendations as a result of the work carried out by the committee, led by Senator Wortley, to ensure that this environment is safer for all users, but especially for our young.
You have remained as passionate in your final days in this chamber as you were when you first arrived, and I admire the commitment you made to serving your constituents, your state and our great party. If you know Dana, then you know that the most important factor in Dana's life is her family. I know the long absences away from her family have been very hard on Dana. I thank you again for your hard work and dedication. I wish you, your husband, Russell, and your much-loved son, Che, all the best for the future. You will be missed.
Senator Michael Forshaw and I did not come across each other in committees other than briefly in the Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Public Administration. I came to know Mike when we encountered each other in our roles as parliamentary convenors for our respective factions—me, new to the role; and, Mike, the father of the right faction. Mike tutored me in the dark arts of trip formulas and committee memberships. Of course, there is no truth to the rumours that I vacated the left convenor's position to avoid the never-ending meetings on formulas. However, I was rewarded for my work by Mike; he gave me the position of chair of the Senate Standing Committee on Publications—non-paying, of course.
I always thought I did a good job in my negotiations with Mike Forshaw, which probably attests to Mike's abilities to let you believe that you were doing well, whilst he took home all on his shopping list—the mark of a good factional leader. I would like to echo Senator Arbib's comments: 'Mike has done a huge amount of backroom work. He gets little gratification for that in terms of public acceptance, but the work he has done has been so effective.' And might I add that sentiment goes to his enormous contribution to committee inquiries.
Mike, your loyalty to the party and your commitment to Labor's core values remains unshaken. Whilst we have not always agreed, I have always been entertained by your humour and wit. I respect your dedication and your contributions in the caucus and in the parliament.
Senator Annette Hurley, you have had a respected parliamentary career both at the state and federal levels. Your early speeches in the Senate about social inclusion and a cohesive national identity and your work in the shadow ministry of immigration and citizenship was instrumental in formulating our current policy. Madam Acting Deputy President, I seek leave to incorporate the rest of my speech in Hansard.
The remainder of the speech read as follows—
I want to take this opportunity to commend Senator Hurley for her efforts. Your contributions were always considered and your analysis was a welcome addition to policy debates.
Annette is a quiet achiever but has been a significant achiever and one I have been honoured to work with in the Senate.
I wish you and Bob well for the future.
Senator Steve Hutchins. My fixed view of Senator Hutchins when I came to this chamber was one of being a factional warrior and rewarded thus, and perhaps he was but Steve Hutchins is much more than that—Steve is a dedicated, able and passionate senator. A senator who feels deeply.
I have always found Steve to be frank and forthright and as his colleagues know Steve has a very long memory.
It was Steve Hutchins who assisted me with my first caucus victory though technically this took place outside the caucus room—Steve though not involved in the issue joined me in solidarity in my attempt to ensure that an unwelcome intrusion was ejected from the caucus room.
In his first speech to the senate in 1998—Steve spoke of ordinary people—the forgotten, the disadvantaged and indeed that sense of social injustice remains with him today so it was indeed fitting that those people were his focus in his last speech here tonight.
As he heads off to Victoria, he perhaps he might like to give the SL a call. Whatever happens, I hope Victoria treats him and his family well.
Good luck and best wishes to all retiring senators—you all have served this parliament well.
Senator Wortley has kindly agreed to allow me a few minutes of her contribution because I did not have the opportunity to make some remarks in the valedictory debate that I wanted to make. So I will do that now.
I particularly want to firstly acknowledge my colleagues Steve Hutchins and Annette Hurley. As will be clear from previous contributions, I have known Steve for many years. As Senator Faulkner said, Steve and I have not agreed on much over the years; although, in our later years here I think we found more things we could agree upon in the mellowness of age, which we both show. But we have not changed much except for our hair colour.
In terms of Steve's absolute commitment to the things he believes in, I think they are the hallmark of Steve Hutchins and anyone who knows him here knows that he is a fervent believer in things and he will do everything to pursue the cause of those beliefs. I think that is the greatest mark of a person of honour. I have never had dealings with Steve where I did not believe I could trust his word; he was always honourable in that regard and that is another important mark of a person in my view. Honour in dealings is one of the critical tests that I apply. Annette Hurley I had a little to do with, mostly through the Economics Committee, working on dairy inquiries with other senators in this place. Annette's ability to accumulate knowledge, to understand issues and to work towards a solution were a testament to the capacity that she had. She was very unlucky, from the history that she and others have recounted but also because of what took place in selection of shadow ministries in times gone by, not to have found her way onto the front bench when Labor attained government in 2007. She has made a decision to leave in her own time and do the things that she wants to do, and I can clearly tell from the look on her face that she is entirely comfortable with that decision. I think that is a wonderful thing to be able to say. I have a great deal of respect for her and hope that she and her husband, Bob, continue to be the great partnership that they have been as I have observed them in her relatively short time in this place.
I want to make some comments about Senator Steve Fielding's role here. As most have observed, Senator Fielding has supported both sides on many occasions. I suppose that when you do that some say you please no-one. But in my view he has done what he has believed was the right thing to do on every occasion. In the position that he is in, he was able to do that when some of us, because we are loyal to our parties and the decision-making process, maybe were less comfortable with some decisions than others. So that is a matter which I think Senator Fielding can take from this place. At all times he did what he believed was right. I respect that.
I was pretty regretful of some of the things that happened in this chamber earlier today when a vote took place and comments were being made in a division. I reminded some people that privilege does not apply during a division and it is probably unwise to make certain comments, even in this chamber, when the benefits of privilege do not apply. But I thought that Senator Fielding handled that particularly well.
I want to say that I think this reflects upon the honourable way in which Senator Fielding conducted himself in here. I have observed his desire that the votes in this place reflect the will of the people. There was one particular vote on a disallowance going up towards 6:50. The debate would have been concluded and, had the debate not gone to a vote, the disallowance, which related to a Queensland fishing issue, would have been deemed carried and the regulation disallowed without the Senate having voted on it. But Senator Fielding, to his credit even though he did not support the ultimate outcome, supported the concept that the will of the Senate, not the effluxion of time and the fact that the matter was not allowed to come to a vote, ought to determine the outcome.
He supported his conscience in that regard. His view on the matter was lost in the vote, but he believed—and I believed and said to him that I believed—that he had done the right thing. That reflected very well on him. I believe that to this day. I think that is one of the greatest marks of Senator Fielding's approach to this place. It was a very honourable approach. Thank you.
I want to rise tonight to pay tribute to a very prominent Canberran who recently passed away and who will be very well known in the Canberra community. That man was Jim Murphy. He was a man much loved around the Canberra community. He was most conspicuously a successful and prominent businessman in this community, but he was also so very much more.
He was born in 1947, the youngest of eight children. He left his home and came to Canberra in 1967. In 1969, he began to work at the Australian National University Staff Centre. At that time, he noticed the significant appreciation of wine by patrons of that establishment. From that grew a great interest in and association with the development and appreciation of wine as a business and pastime in the Canberra region. It became one of the great passions of his life.
People around Canberra today universally know the name Jim Murphy through his association with the selling of wine through Jim Murphy's Market Cellars. The business that he grew, initially from a tin shed at the ANU, later from Market Cellars at Fyshwick and, later again, from an outlet near the Canberra Airport, became almost the iconic retail outlet for wine and the place a person would go in the ACT to get good advice about the best choice of wine and about the wine industry.
If it were only for the fact that he had developed an appreciation of and a retail industry around wine in the ACT, Jim Murphy would not be marked today in this place and previously in a debate in the ACT Legislative Assembly. Jim Murphy, in a sense, took the platform of a successful business and became a person who changed so much about life in the ACT through his commitment, his passion and his generosity towards so many other activities in the ACT. For example, for five years he acted voluntarily as the chairperson of an organisation called CanTrade, whose object was to develop trade and other commercial opportunities for business in the ACT, a place that, I think it is fair to say, at that time certainly had an underdeveloped private sector in areas outside servicing of the federal government. In that role he enormously expanded opportunities for ACT business. When the then federal government in 1996 and 1997 caused some contraction of employment in the ACT, Jim led the charge—called initially Youth 500 and, later, Youth 1,000—to create jobs for young Canberrans for whom an unemployment rate in excess of 25 per cent was the reality. And he succeeded. He succeeded brilliantly in creating opportunities for younger Canberrans. He played a crucial role in bringing the BRL Hardy venture to the ACT and was responsible largely for the creation of the concept of an ACT regional wine district, which today produces some of the very finest wines in the whole of Australia. Although he did not personally grow the grapes responsible for that, he certainly harnessed the potential of this region to create a viable and identifiable industry around the ACT. He established the Canberra Business Event Centre, which can be seen on the northern shores of Lake Burley Griffin, a venue that showcases the ACT's strengths in a spectacular setting.
He travelled extensively around Australia and, indeed, around the world. He led numerous trade missions to China, Japan and Ireland, among other places, to build commercial relationships for the ACT business community. I went with him on a trade delegation to Ireland a few years ago, where his dynamism was able to generate a great many opportunities for ACT businesses. When looking at the totality of his contribution, I do not think that any one person in the last 30 years has done so much for the creation of jobs in this region—sustainable jobs in the private sector—and for the promotion of business relations with the rest of Australia and internationally as has Jim Murphy.
He was, however, not content merely in promoting the development of business for its own sake. He used the success of his own business and his networks with other businesses in the ACT to create opportunities for a huge number of people around this region. He was a passionate supporter, for example, of the Open Family foundation, which provides outreach support to homeless youth. He supported the growth of teaching courses at the Australian Catholic University. He was a board member at Calvary Hospital. He was passionately interested in and a supporter of the Canberra Raiders and was on its board for a number of years. He supported numerous organisations and charities in this region. Literally tens of thousands of dollars every year left Jim Murphy's wallet to support businesses around this region. The extent of his generosity is almost legendary.
In 2003 he was awarded the Order of Australia, very deservedly, for his contribution to so many of those charities and worthy causes around the region. He almost had an inability to say no to somebody who came to his door with an important mission to put before him.
Jim passed away much too early, at the age of 63, last month after undergoing surgery for cancer at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney. A measure of his mark on the Canberra community is the funeral that was held for him on 6 June at St Christopher's Cathedral, the largest of Canberra's churches. When I got there, almost half an hour before the start of the funeral service, there were no seats left in the cathedral and no standing room left in the cathedral. I could not even hear the service because there were so many people packed in the doorways of the cathedral that it became impossible to even participate. That is a measure of how much this man touched the ACT and its surrounding community. He was a man who truly dedicated his life to changing the outcomes and the prospects of people around him.
I express my deep sympathy and condolences to his wife, Margaret, and his sons, Adrian and Damian. I treasure very much my time with him in a number of contexts. I remember him particularly as a very passionate and proud supporter of the Liberal Party. Again, his generosity extended very much to that organisation. I share with a great many Canberrans a great sense of sadness at his passing but I know that he has left this world having made an indelible mark on the Canberra community. For that reason, I am extremely grateful to have known him and his kindness and his commitment to the people of this city.
Earlier this month Project 10% was launched. Project 10% aims to reduce the rates of imprisonment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people by determining which programs and services are not working and replacing them with ones that actually do work. One of the key aspects of Project 10% is that it is Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander led and directed. It will only work in partnership with the community, the government and other stakeholders.
Its directors show that leadership. The current directors are Ken Georgetown, who is also the CEO of Murri Watch in Brisbane; Kitty Cara, the current president of Australians for Native Title and Reconciliation, ANTAR, and Monique Bond, the former president; Megan Williams, a researcher at the Indigenous Health Unit at the University of Queensland; well-known Uncle Norm Clark, a member of the Premier's Advisory Council and a respected elder; Colleen Wall, from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women's Legal and Advocacy Service; and John Close, from the Gurri Recovery Centre.
The well-known law firm McCullough Robertson is working with this group to establish the project as a legal entity and ensure that they have proper standards of governance and an application for charitable status. McCullough Robertson is taking on the project as part of its Community Partnerships Program, which prioritises access to justice. Project 10% seeks to start turning around those damning statistics which we all know, and deserves more than just the support of law firms.
We know that in the 30 years since the report into Aboriginal deaths in custody the rates of incarceration for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders have increased. The increase in the incarceration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders has occurred at the same time as the average national crime rate has fallen. In my own state, Queensland, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are more than 11 times more likely than any other Queenslander to be in the prison system.
Queensland is currently home to the second largest population of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, just after New South Wales. And we know, because it is part of our great state, that we have the largest population of Torres Strait Islander people. By 2020, with the current statistics, Queensland will have the largest population of people who identify as Aboriginal and Islander people. But what kind of home will it be? If the current stats continue, will the prison system be more likely to be home than any other residence?
Project 10% can succeed. At its launch, Professor Boni Robertson—a good friend of mine—from Griffith University talked about how the program originated and how we are able to make a difference. She asked—and this is a challenge to all of us: 'Why are we still giving custodial sentences to a vulnerable 19-year-old person with the intellectual capacity of a 14 year old?' That questions hangs before us. Professor Robertson went on to answer her own question. She said:
We need real programs. Not real systems. Prison is a system but there are no real programs (in rehabilitation) to reduce the changes of people returning to prison. Very little is being done about dangerous home environments, poverty, alcohol and drug abuse, unemployment, violence against women and other s and the very many situations that lead to women and youth going to prison. It's time to knuckle down and work out why we haven't made any progress in thirty years. It's time to redirect those funds from building more prisons to investing in social capital and rehabilitation.
Professor Robertson has identified many areas where we do not know or do not understand what happens to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders after a prison sentence. We know that they return to communities but we also know that there is not the safety or support required for those people in those communities. We have to look at what systems have not been working and what does work. Project 10% is about protecting the whole community, not just Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.
Spending on rehabilitation and prevention is not proportionate to the amount we spend on prisons themselves. Project 10% is not just about spending money. In 2008 and 2009, the expenditure on prisons was $2.8 billion nationally, at a cost that has been estimated at $276 per person per day. The question that Project 10% is raising is: how much more could we do in our community if we were to put some of that money into effective rehabilitation services? How could we better focus the efforts of the whole community in looking at prevention, education and support?
Project 10% has adopted an international model of a justice centre, which analyses crime, arrests, convictions, prisons, and probation and parole supervision data provided by state and local agencies. We know that this data is available, and we need to look at how best we can use that in partnership and collaboration and working with communities. The justice centre would map specific neighbourhoods where large numbers of people under criminal justice supervision live and cross reference this with information with reports of criminal activity and the need for services, including substance abuse and mental health treatment programs. There is a crying need. This need has been identified, and we can make this work.
This information would enable assessment of current services aimed at reducing recidivism. Using the local information and working with the local people, this justice centre could develop practical, evidence based and consensus based policies that would reduce spending on corrections to reinvest in strategies that can improve public safety and reduce crime, incarceration and recidivism. The impact of those changes would be able to be seen in people, families and communities.
Only this week the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs released a report called Doing time. Time for doing. Indigenous youth in the criminal justice system. This very important report identified many of the same issues that were discussed by Project 10%. The report's research showed that young Indigenous offenders are more likely to be referred to court than non-Indigenous offenders for exactly the same offence—and we need to understand why. No-one has been able to effectively say why, if you have two people, particularly young people, who are charged with the same offence, there seems to be across the country differing responses to that offence.
As Professor Robertson said at the launch of Project 10%, we need to understand why. The best way of doing that is to work with communities to ensure that communities are safer and provide more support and that we genuinely respond to the challenge before us—because those stats are not acceptable. We cannot have a prison system which seems to be more of a home to a large number of people who identify as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander than the homes from which they come. One of the clear requirements must be that the homes and the communities are made safe. People need to have effective education and support systems. Those issues which have been raised by Project 10% need to be taken up by governments and communities and we need to work together to make a change.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics 2006 Census, 10,000 of the 50,000 Indigenous people surveyed indicated that they spoke English not well or not at all. Can there be a more damning statistic—that within our population we have people who are not comfortable and able to communicate effectively? That shows the need for effective education systems.
There are of course also the issues of mental health and general health. We know that within prison populations there is a higher rate of people who are suffering from mental health conditions and people who do not have sound health outcomes—people who are not able to effectively hear or people who have a range of conditions that need immediate treatment and support.
Project 10% is about raising these issues in the wider community and working out ways to make sure that there is support. We need to ensure that our criminal justice system is fair and that there is a hope for a full recovery in terms of living full lives with effective futures. It is important that we support initiatives such as Project 10%. It is an honour to know the people who work in this area. It is an ongoing challenge to all of us. I commend the people who are part of this project and I hope to work with them into the future.
For the past six years I have had the honour of being a senator for South Australia. It is in this context that I have been reflecting on the things that make my home state so special. Flying into Adelaide on a 737 on a Thursday or Friday night after a parliamentary sitting week, with the lights of Adelaide below, really is a wonderful sight.
Tonight I want to speak briefly about some of what makes South Australia a truly brilliant blend. There are the little towns that unite the people of the winemaking regions of our state; the beautiful Clare Valley that supports a working rural community, which upholds traditions that are generations old; and heritage towns like Kapunda and Burra, with their restaurants and antique shops, complement the valley's boutique wineries, some of which are known worldwide. Home to about 20,000 South Australians, the Barossa Valley is one of Australia's premier wine producing regions and is particularly noted for the luscious shiraz grapes that contribute to making the famous Grange Hermitage.
Meanwhile, south of the capital, McLaren Vale takes full advantage of its climate to combine stunning beaches, more excellent wineries, rolling hills and almond orchards. Moving even further south, the largest regional city in South Australia is Mt Gambier, on the slope of a dormant volcano. It is a region of great natural beauty. There are caves, sinkholes, rivers and lakes, including the famous Blue Lake—which I have walked around—which changes colour every November and serves the city and surrounds with pure water.
North of Mt Gambier is the Coonawarra where the terra rossa soil combines with pure, limestone filtered water to produce some of Australia's greatest reds. Then there is Hahndorf, Australia's oldest surviving German settlement, which still retains its German flavour, particularly in the bakeries and restaurants that cluster around its main street. Continuing with the regional theme, Wilpena Pound is a 40 million-year-old majestic natural amphitheatre located inside an ancient crater. Wilpena Pound is the gateway to the Flinders Ranges and to the deep outback, to the Dreaming. I have shared many wonderful days there with Russell and Che.
Water is of course a crucial element in the survival of the driest state of the driest continent. The River Murray is the lifeline of South Australia and it must be treated with the greatest respect to ensure its longevity. Off the Fleurieu Peninsula is Kangaroo Island, with its sheep milk cheeses, fresh water marron, honey made by the only known pure strain of Ligurian bees in the world, native bush and wildlife, and pure air and pristine beaches.
Then to the city. The Montefiore Hill in North Adelaide offers a panoramic view of Adelaide Oval, Memorial Drive, the parklands, the city centre, and across the city to the hills. Adelaide Oval is often spoken of as the most beautiful test cricket ground in the world. Soon it will be further developed as part of a major riverside link to the CBD to accommodate AFL football and a broader array of cultural events. I have seen many SANFL games here, including my beloved Sturt, and in recent times, with Russell, Che, my sister Angelique, and nephew Cale, witnessed Adelaide United's sensational win over Melbourne victory.
At the west end of the city is the JamFactory, a craft and design centre, which has been supporting artists, craftspeople and designers for nearly 40 years. It was founded by a great man of whom I have fond memories, the then Premier of South Australia, the late Don Dunstan, who was also responsible for the creation of the State Theatre Company, the Adelaide Festival Trust and the South Australian Film Corporation. In my university days, I recall serving Don Dunstan a beer 'in a small glass' at a local football club, after which he asked if I was old enough to do so.
Coastal shipping was part of the South Australian life for many decades but, with the advent of road transport and greater access to areas of primary and secondary production, the shipping trade died off and the port's once bustling wharves declined. Now the port's wharves, grand old warehouses and riverside precincts are being redeveloped as marinas and housing. The port's AFL football team is, of course, Port Power, of which I have been a member since its first year in the AFL. I still live off the glorious memory of the 2004 grand final victory, as I am sure Senators McEwen and Hurley do. For the record—and I know Senator Farrell has difficulty with this—I am considered a rare breed in South Australia because my second team really is the mighty Adelaide Crows.
There are so many things that are uniquely South Australian: Balfour's green frog cakes, Haigh's chocolates, pie floaters, Coopers beer, the Adelaide Festival and the Adelaide Fringe. South Australia is indeed a brilliant blend of cultures, terrain, climate and produce, of innovation and aspiration, of tradition and creativity. It has been my privilege to be a representative of the people of South Australia in this place.
Senate adjourned at 19:50
The following documents were tabled by the Clerk:
[Legislative instruments are identified by a Federal Register of Legislative Instruments (FRLI) number. An explanatory statement is tabled with an instrument unless otherwise indicated by an asterisk.]
Civil Aviation Act—Civil Aviation Safety Regulations—Airworthiness Directives—
AD/DHC-1/34 Amdt 2—Shock Absorber Strut Piston Tube [F2011L01087].
AD/DHC-1/36 Amdt 2—Flap Operating Cables [F2011L01086].
Corporations Act—ASIC Class Order [CO 11/576] [F2011L01092].
Corporations (Review Fees) Act—Select Legislative Instrument 2011 No. 109—Corporations (Review Fees) Amendment Regulations 2011 (No. 1) [F2011L01089].
Explosives Act—Select Legislative Instrument 2011 No. 89—Explosives Transport Amendment Regulations 2011 (No. 1) [F2011L01099].
Fair Work Act—Select Legislative Instrument 2011 No. 91—Fair Work Amendment Regulations 2011 (No. 2) [F2011L01088].
Health Insurance Act—Select Legislative Instruments 2011 Nos—
98—Health Insurance Amendment Regulations 2011 (No. 2) [F2011L01083].
100—Health Insurance (General Medical Services Table) Amendment Regulations 2011 (No. 1) [F2011L01091].
101—Health Insurance (Pathology Services Table) Amendment Regulations 2011 (No. 1) [F2011L01095].
Long Service Leave (Commonwealth Employees) Act—Select Legislative Instrument 2011 No. 96—Long Service Leave (Commonwealth Employees) Amendment Regulations 2011 (No. 1) [F2011L01105].
Migration Act and Australian Citizenship Act—Select Legislative Instrument 2011 No. 105—Migration Legislation Amendment Regulations 2011 (No. 1) [F2011L01098].
Military Justice (Interim Measures) Act (No. 1)—Select Legislative Instrument 2011 No. 90—Military Justice (Interim Measures) (Remuneration and Entitlements) Regulations 2011 [F2011L01093].
National Vocational Education and Training Regulator Act—Select Legislative Instrument 2011 No. 92—National Vocational Education and Training Regulator Regulations 2011 [F2011L01104].
Occupational Health and Safety Act—Select Legislative Instrument 2011 No. 93—Occupational Health and Safety (Safety Arrangements) Amendment Regulations 2011 (No. 1) [F2011L01107].
Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Act—Select Legislative Instrument 2011 No. 107—Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage (Greenhouse Gas Injection and Storage) Regulations 2011 [F2011L01106].
Renewable Energy (Electricity) Act—Select Legislative Instrument 2011 No. 88—Renewable Energy (Electricity) Amendment Regulations 2011 (No. 2) [F2011L01090].
Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act—Select Legislative Instrument 2011 No. 94—Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Amendment Regulations 2011 (No. 1) [F2011L01094].
Therapeutic Goods Act—Select Legislative Instruments 2011 Nos—
102—Therapeutic Goods Amendment Regulations 2011 (No. 2) [F2011L01100].
104—Therapeutic Goods (Medical Devices) Amendment Regulations 2011 (No. 2) [F2011L01102].
Therapeutic Goods (Charges) Act—Select Legislative Instrument 2011 No. 103— Therapeutic Goods (Charges) Amendment Regulations 2011 (No. 2) [F2011L01097].
Wine Australia Corporation Act—Select Legislative Instrument 2011 No. 86—Australian Wine and Brandy Corporation (Annual General Meeting of the Industry) Amendment Regulations 2011 (No. 1) [F2011L01084].
The following government document was tabled:
National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC)—NHMRC Licensing Committee—Report on the operation of the Research Involving Human Embryos Act 2002 for the period 1 September 2010 to 28 February 2011.
asked the Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Jobs and Workplace Relations, Minister representing the Minister for School Education, Early Childhood and Youth, Minister representing the Minister for Employment Participation and Childcare, and Minister representing the Minister for Indigenous Employment and Economic Development, upon notice, on 29 November 2010:
Since 14 September 2010, for each Minister and any Parliamentary Secretaries in their portfolio:
(1) What has been the total amount spent on stationery and publications, including a breakdown of all spending.
(2) What has been the total amount spent on printing ministerial letterhead.
(3) What is the grams per square metre [GSM] of the ministerial letterhead.
(4) Is the letterhead carbon neutral.
The answer to the honourable senator's question is as follows:
(1) The amount spent on stationery and publications from 14 September 2010:
(2) Total amount spent on printing ministerial letterhead from 14 September 2010:
(3) 90 GSM paper is used for printing ministerial letterhead. The standard white paper of 80 GSM is used for other ministerial letterheads.
(4) Paper used for letterhead in Minister Garrett's office is carbon neutral. The standard white paper used for other ministerial letterheads is not carbon neutral.