Tuesday, 7 February 2017
Trood, Professor Russell Brunell
It is with deep regret that I inform the Senate of the death, on 9 January this year, of Emeritus Professor Russell Brunell Trood, a senator for the state of Queensland from 2005 to 2011. I call the Leader of the Government in the Senate.
That the Senate records its deep regret at the death, on 9 January 2017, of Emeritus Professor Russell Brunell Trood, former senator for Queensland, places on record its appreciation of his long and highly distinguished service to the nation, and tenders its profound sympathy to his family in their bereavement.
This is a day of great sorrow for government senators because our dear friend and esteemed former colleague, Russell Trood, died on 9 January, shortly after his 68th birthday. He had been diagnosed early last year with a rare, aggressive and incurable form of cancer. His death at such a relatively young age has shocked those of us who counted him as a friend.
Condolence motions are always sad occasions, but there is, of course, a special poignancy in a condolence motion in relation to someone who is so fresh in our memory as a colleague with whom we served in this chamber. It is less than six years ago that Russell left us when his term expired on the 30 June 2011. You could almost imagine him walking through the door or rising in his place to make one of his characteristically erudite and memorable contributions. Those of us who were privileged to attend a private funeral—which included both you and I, Mr President, and former senator Michael Ronaldson—and the many of us who attended the memorial service hosted by Griffith University in Brisbane last Friday know just how many people admired, respected and loved Russell Trood.
He was born on 5 December 1948 in Melbourne, but his upbringing was in Sydney. Although his career was crowned by the six years he served as a senator between 2005 and 2011, most of his career was spent in the academy as a respected scholar in his specialist field of international relations. But politics was in his blood—literally. He was the great-grandson of Sir Arthur Rutledge, the Attorney-General in the government of Sir Samuel Griffith in colonial Queensland and one of the Queensland delegates to the 1891 Federation convention in Sydney. That was the convention in which the principal draft of the Constitution was authored by Sir Samuel Griffith. Russell's great-grandfather, Sir Arthur Rutledge, was at his side on that immensely important moment in Australian history.
As a young man, Russell become involved in the Liberal Party in Sydney. He was active in the Pymble Young Liberals. He was educated at the University of Sydney, where he graduated LLB, and began his career as a solicitor. But the practice of law was not for him because his intellectual interests lay in international relations. So he went to the United Kingdom, did a masters in that discipline at the University of Aberystwyth in Wales and, for a time, worked in politics in the United Kingdom. It will tell you much about Russell's political philosophy and values that, when for a year he worked as a research officer for political party in London, it was not the conservative party for which he worked but the Liberal Party. Russell was in the great liberal tradition—the tradition in British politics represented by Gladstone and Asquith; the tradition in Australian politics represented by Deakin and Menzies. He was a thorough liberal. I remember that Russell used to occasionally regale me of the highlight of his career—working as a political staffer in the United Kingdom, with memories of the Sutton and Cheam by-election of December 1972. It was one of the Liberal Party's great victories—when it won a safe Tory home county seat with a swing of 38 per cent. Years later, Russell would himself be the subject of a very famous election victory.
He returned from the United Kingdom to pursue a career as a scholar. He was a lecturer at the Australian National University between 1983 and 1988. Then, in 1989, he was recruited by Griffith University, where he was a lecturer and then senior lecturer between 1989 and 1996. He was the director of the Centre for the Study of Australian-Asian Relations at that university from 1990 until shortly before his election to the Senate, and associate professor of international relations at Griffith from 1997 to 2004, when he was elected to the Senate.
After his time in the Senate came to an end, he returned to the academy. At the time of his death he was the director of the Centre for the Study of Australia-Asia Relations and he was a director of the Griffith Asia Institute. In acknowledgement of his long and distinguished career as a scholar, Griffith University conferred upon him the high honour of Emeritus Professor. While serving as a scholar, he was the author of many specialist works in the particular field Asian international relations and gave his support to many learned bodies. He was the president of the Queensland branch of the Australian Institute of International Affairs, he served as a member of the national executive of the Australian Institute of International Affairs, he was a board member of the Australia-Indonesia Institute, he was a member of the Foreign Affairs Council and he was a member of the editorial board of the Australian Journal of International Affairs, among many other distinctions.
Politics, along with the study of international relations, was Russell's other love. In the 1990s he became involved in the Liberal Party. That is where I first encountered him: in the branches of the Liberal Party—the Sherwood branch, in fact, in the western suburbs of Brisbane. He served in various roles, including as a member of the Liberal Party state executive, between 1999 and 2003. It was very obvious to me when I encountered Russell Trood that we were like-minded. It was also very obvious to me that he wanted to be a senator, and so did I. We should have been rivals, but we never were. We formed a fast and lasting friendship and, when I stood for preselection for the Senate in 2000, Russell supported me.
In 2001 he ran for the Senate himself in a lower position on the Liberal Senate ticket. And then, in 2004, he won the No. 3 position on the Liberal Senate ticket. In those days in Queensland there was intense competition between the Liberal Party and the National Party, and nowhere was that competition more intense than for the third Senate place—it being reckoned that the conservative side would never win more than three seats. The National Party candidate, someone of whom we had never heard but of whom we would hear much more in the years to come, was Barnaby Joyce.
The Liberal ticket comprised Brett Mason, Russell and me, with Russell at No. 3 on the ticket, and we thought that we were in a race between Russell and Barnaby for the third non-Labor position. It never crossed our minds that both could win, and we spent weeks on end—Russell, Brett and me—travelling around Queensland over the course of that campaign. Those were joyous times, and we were happy warriors. The soundtrack of our campaign was a blend of Russell's fine taste in music and Brett Mason's execrable taste in music, and so it was to the backing track of Bizet, Verdi and The Carpenters that we travelled the length and breadth of Queensland for all those weeks.
I will never forget the night of the 2004 election at Russell's home when it appeared that both he and Barnaby Joyce had won. In his valedictory speech, former senator John Cherry, whose place Russell took, calculated that the difference was 2,720 votes. It was a historic result because not only was it the first and only time that either of the major parties had won four of the six Senate places at a half-Senate election but it was, of course, also the result that gave the Howard government control of the Senate. That will not be Russell's only place in history, but it is a sure one.
In July 2005 Russell Trood arrived in the Senate. He was part of the cohort to which you, Mr President, also belonged, and he immediately made an impact. One of the reasons I think Russell immediately made an impact is that he looked so much like a senator. He was almost everyone's idea of the senator from central casting, but he made an impact through his contribution to debate. I can still hear in my mind's ear that lovely voice. It was polite, persuasive, rich, erudite and plangent. You could hardly fail to be persuaded by what Russell had to say.
He was, in his time here, the best-educated person in the parliament. But he wore his learning lightly. He was gentle. He was generous. He was decent. He was immensely popular amongst government senators and much respected across the chamber. When Russell left the Senate, the then leader of the Labor Party and Leader of the Government in the Senate, Senator Chris Evans, had this to say about him:
Senator Russell Trood only had one term here. In many ways that is a shame because I think he had a lot to contribute and did not get the opportunity to continue to do so in a way that would have been good for the parliament and for the Liberal Party.
… … …
I think it was good for the Liberal Party and for the Senate that you were elected … You also behave much more like people's image of a traditional senator.
… … …
Rather than being a grubby party politician, he brings free thought, an interest in ideas and a style that reflects that sort of approach. I say that very genuinely. I think the parliament and the Senate have benefited from his academic background and expertise …
… … …
… Russell Trood has brought that experience to the parliament and applied it to foreign affairs and international relations issues … to great effect. In a parliament where sometimes we are not known for our interest in ideas, Senator Trood's contribution has been notable for that.
… … …
… I have actually found him more effective in estimates than many of you—
addressing opposition senators at the time—
because he has used a more reasonable and less aggressive and inquisitorial style that actually puts you under a bit more pressure than perhaps some of the more frontal assaults some of you are known for … Certainly from the government's point of view Senator Trood is well-respected. We thought he was an interesting and valuable addition to the Senate and he has made a contribution that I think the Senate will miss.
The Senate these days has, I think, suffered a lot. I think its reputation, I am sorry to say, for all sorts of reasons is at a relatively low ebb. I think the Australian people, if they could imagine an ideal of the Senate and what the Senate should be, would imagine that it were a chamber of men and women committed to public service who debate the great issues of the nation politely and passionately, with wisdom, decency and learning. Well, that is what we had with Russell Trood, because that is exactly what he was like.
As a friend and as a matter of principle, he was extraordinary. I will never forget when in 2008 the Liberal and National parties amalgamated in Queensland and an issue arose about the order of the Senate ticket. I was a member of the shadow cabinet. Brett Mason was a member of the executive as a shadow parliamentary secretary. Barnaby Joyce was the Leader of the National Party in the Senate. Russell was a backbench senator. Russell insisted, at his own cost, that the Senate ticket should reflect the order of seniority, even though that had the result of putting him in the fourth position, a position unlikely to be won again—and it was not. That was an extraordinary act of friendship to me and to Brett Mason. It shows the largeness of the person whom we mourn today.
As a scholar and in particular as a scholar of history, Russell was interested in the long run. He could see the course of events not over hours, days or weeks but over years and decades. He was one of the only voices in the coalition party room to oppose the invasion of Iraq. He said, 'Loathsome as Saddam Hussein is, if we displace the regional strongman, that will destabilise Iraq with unpredictable consequences not only for Iraq but for the rest of the Middle East. In years to come, we will still not know how unstable we will have made that region.' With the learning of history, who can say that he was wrong?
In 2008 he was a vigorous opponent of the amalgamation of the Liberal and National parties in Queensland. He said, 'If you fuse the parties, you will create a political space on the right, particularly in regional Queensland, that may well be filled by either the One Nation party or other more right-wing parties.' Who can say that he was wrong? So Russell had a wisdom born both of experience and of deep learning.
For him to be taken from his family, his friends and his colleagues at the academy at such a young age is a cruel blow. I visited Russell in the last couple of months of his life. His courage in the end that he knew was imminent is beyond my words to describe. He did say that he hoped to live beyond 8 November to see the defeat of Donald Trump. So he did not get everything he wished for.
I thank the patience of the Senate for allowing me to express, at slightly longer length than is customary on these occasions, my esteem for a dear friend, a great senator, a person who made this institution better, who graced public life in an exemplary manner and for whose friendship and collegiality we are all the better and for whose passing we are grievously poorer. I extend my deepest sympathy to his widow Dale, his son James, his daughter Phoebe, his brother Arty. I thank the Senate for their expression of appreciation for the life and contribution of this wonderful man.
I rise on behalf of the opposition to acknowledge the passing of former senator Russell Brunel Trood, who passed away last month at the age of 68. At the outset I convey our condolences to his wife Dale, his children James and Phoebe and to all of his relatives and friends. I particularly extend my sympathies to those in this chamber who served with Professor Trood, as I did, and who are feeling this loss personally. I know Senator Brandis mourns the loss of a trusted confidant and one of his closest political friends. I extend my personal condolences to Senator Brandis.
Russell Trood served as a senator for a single six-year term from 2005 to 2011 and, as Senator Brandis has outlined, he was elected from the third place on the Liberal ticket in 2004 and as the last of the six senators from Queensland. His arrival, as the Leader of the Government has outlined, brought to this chamber a majority for the Howard government. For the first time since 1980 and since the size of the Senate increased in 1984, that this had occurred. I recall that development; it was not a welcome development for those on this side of the chamber. However, we can be grateful that the Senate gained a learned member who had a reputation as a courteous and decent person as part of that change.
Russell Trood entered the Senate, in his own words, as someone who had 'received a good and some might even say excessive university education'. Born in Melbourne in 1948, his studies took him to New South Wales, the United Kingdom and Canada in pursuit of qualifications in law, strategic studies and international politics, including a doctorate. It was appointment to a position as a lecturer at Griffith University, via a stint at the Australian National University, that saw him finally settle in Queensland. I understand that Professor Trood's great grandfather had been a Queensland delegate for the 1891 Constitutional Convention and so, perhaps, this was a something of a return. It was with some apparent delight that he told the Senate in his first speech that Queenslanders now outnumbered Victorians in the Liberal party room.
Professor Trood remained at Griffith until his election, advancing understanding of international relations with a particular focus on Asia and the Pacific. He was author, editor or contributor to over half a dozen books and a number of other publications. The focus of his work was international affairs in the Asia-Pacific. From 1990 to 2001 he served as director of the Centre for the Study of Australia-Asia Relations. He was an associate professor of international relations from 1997 to 2004 and a visiting fellow at the Lowy Institute from 2005.
Senator Claire Moore, also a Queenslander, enjoyed a good friendship with Professor Trood. She highlights 'his gifted and acclaimed work as an academic, particularly in international relations, which inspired many researchers and students because he was a great teacher as well as a researcher'. Senator Moore notes that 'he inspired students with a passion for constitutional law and governance, as well as economic relations'.
With this background, it was no surprise that Russell Trood used his first speech to enunciate clear views on foreign policy and Australia's place in the world. He gave an intelligent assessment of Australia's view of the world that was to set the tone for his Senate career, which included service on the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade committees of both the Senate and the parliament; the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties; and the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security, amongst others.
He, in his first speech, remarked on the challenges and opportunities of globalisation, describing it as 'the phenomenon of our times'. He saw that amidst its contradictions, globalisation promoted an interdependent world, 'where countries and communities are increasingly interconnected'. His view was that Australia's response had to be engagement. For as much then as now, it is in our interest to, as he said, 'play an active and constructive role in world affairs'.
Professor Trood also reflected on the importance of education. He said: 'Ideas and education matter, not just for the prosperity they promise but because free and open societies depend on them.'
Professor Trood also acknowledged the role of the Senate as a means of 'ensuring the accountability of the executive arm of government' whilst, in the context of a governing party majority of which he was part, noting that an enduring source of the Senate's political legitimacy is that it was popularly elected.
It was these three elements—foreign policy, education and the institution of the Senate—that were to be dominant themes in Professor Trood's career as a senator. The journalist Matt Price reflected in The Australian that:
Professor Trood entered the Senate at the same time as another more outspoken senator elected from Queensland in 2004.
Senator Brandis has spoken about this. Price described Professor Trood as 'the antithesis to' Senator Joyce, noting that Professor Trood 'embraces globalisation and supports most Coalition policies. He also noted that Professor Trood recognised his role as a senator was not just to represent Queenslanders, but to fulfil 'a national responsibility to govern for all Australians'—a duty all of us should maintain at the forefront of our work.
In his post-political career, Professor Trood returned to work in academia and also for his country. He took up a professorship in international relations at Griffith University in addition to being appointed by the Gillard government to serve as Australia's special envoy to Eastern Europe, the Balkans and the Caucuses. He also held academic positions with the United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, sat on the board of the Australian American Fulbright Association and, in 2015, became director of the Griffith Asia Institute.
I wish to return briefly to Professor Trood's contribution to foreign policy. He had well developed views about our public diplomacy and engagement with our region. He believed Australia could confidently play our part on the diplomatic stage. To do so, in his view, we need only draw on our enduring strengths. I return to his first speech in the Senate because he identified the essence of this tradition to be: strong but not uncritical support for allies; robust bilateralism; a willingness to use military force when strategic necessity demands it; a respect for international law; an instinct for problem solving; and a commitment to effective and creative multilateralism. He characterised this as 'middle-power realism'.
Professor Trood's assessments were informed by a body of work that framed Australia's relationship with our nearest neighbours, our place in Asia and the Pacific, and our enduring alliance with the United States. He was fortunate to be writing at a time when significant geopolitical shifts were beginning to occur, and we are fortunate to benefit from his insights and analysis. He saw that East Asia was critically important to Australia's long-term future prosperity. He described himself as 'a long-time enthusiast for Australia's closer engagement with the region, noting that Australia must shed the 'mendicant mentality of a people transplanted from their European roots and desperate to discover an identity'. This was a statement about our ability to be 'clear-eyed about our national interests and confident that those interests are inextricably fused with the region's future.
With China, he believed we could 'aspire to an increasingly constructive relationship across the full range of our political, economic and strategic interests', whilst also moving closer in our strategic partnerships with Japan. In South-East Asia, he recognised the mutual interests that are served by a 'healthy, expanding, cooperative relationship' between Australia and Indonesia. With India, he forecast how our relationship could be much deeper and broader than a shared interest in cricket and historical roots in the Commonwealth. Overall, he advocated for engagement with Asia as a national priority.
Professor Trood made his contribution to foreign policy as an academic and as a senator over more than three decades. South Australian Andrew Hunter recognised how Professor Trood 'contributed much understanding to international relations, including reflections on public diplomacy and middle-power diplomacy'. Mr Hunter particularly noted Professor Trood's warning that pragmatic, self-interested diplomacy about economic outcomes should not be the focus of Australia's international engagement. Foreign policy development in this country is richer for the contribution made by Professor Trood.
I noted earlier that a number of people in this chamber served as senators alongside Russell Trood. In excess of 30 senators, I understand, served concurrently with him. I know many will have their own personal memories on their encounters and experiences. I acknowledge the very moving speech by Senator Brandis. I also wish to thank Senator Moore for providing me with her kind and generous reflections. She told me how she enjoyed his intellect, and his quiet and sharp humour. She described an entertaining and cooperative team member who really loved his work in the Senate and appreciated the real value of committee work. These thoughts are consistent with those of many others who described Professor Trood as decent and courteous.
Russell Trood may have only served one term as a senator but his contribution to Australian and international public policy was much broader. With his untimely and sad passing, the nation is deprived of the continuing contribution of a servant who sought to expand our understanding of the region and our nation's place in the world. I again extend the opposition's deepest sympathies to his family and friends.
I rise on behalf of the Nationals in this place to also extend condolences to the family of former Senator Russell Trood, who passed away earlier this year. Russell was a great mate of mine as he was a great mate of so many people in this place. I would also note that whilst he had arrived here quite some years after I had arrived, he played a bit of a mentor to me. In particular, he used to reflect on my behaviour from time to time and said he had arrived not a day too late. He was born in 1948 and completed his education at the University of Sydney before spending time studying abroad in both Wales and Canada. Indeed it was during this time that Russell penned one of his first letters to an editor in praise of Senate committees—a telling sign of what was to come.
Prior to his election to the Senate, Russell had a successful career as an academic. He was a professor of international relations at Griffith University, and served on the boards of numerous policy institutes in that field including the Australian Institute of International Affairs and the Australian Indonesia Institute.
I referred to him pretty much within a week of meeting him as 'Professor'. Many referred to him as 'Troody' or 'Professor'. We had an ongoing discussion during our friendship. I really thought that a professor was far more important than a senator—they let me be a senator but they would never be let me be something as important as a professor. He agreed and allowed that reference from that time on.
As we have heard, Senator Trood's election to the final Senate position for Queensland at the 2004 half-Senate election was somewhat of a surprise given he was in the sixth position on the ticket. His election was very important as it gave the Howard Government a majority in both houses. But Russell was indeed a man of surprises. He brought to the Senate an unmatched knowledge of international relations, especially of East Asian affairs. This was reflected on by our Prime Minister, who recently described Russell as 'one of Australia's finest foreign policy minds' saying, 'Australia's relations with, and understanding of, our neighbours in the Asia Pacific have been enhanced by Russell's tireless efforts over many years.'
Russell brought a wealth of knowledge and experience to this place, and I was always impressed by the wide range of topics he contributed on. I have to say, foreign affairs has never really been a background or a philosophy of mine and most of what I know about that area is as a courtesy of Russell invariably correcting some ill witted remark. He would take me aside and spend quite some time explaining exactly what was really happening, and some history.
I got most of my interest in foreign affairs, particularly in Asia, as a consequence of listening principally to some of Russell's corrections on those matters. From foreign policy to native title policy, which I was able to engage in with a little bit more vigour, I was very much the wiser for his counsel on these matters. He made some really meaningful contributions around the importance of mediation rather than forcing the claimants into courts. I think the way that we use the native title process—certainly, that advice—has been part of a strong legacy that he has left in the operational nature of legislation, as well as policy debate and discussion.
As a strong supporter of the Australian Defence Force Parliamentary Program, I knew of his huge enjoyment and the experience he got out on HMAS Anzac and HMAS Success, as part of the RIMPAC exercises off Hawaii. You think you know Russell, when you first meet him—I used to think I had him boxed: professor, such an erudite man, such a knowledgeable man—but every time you saw him in another environment, it was another surprise. You could just see him on the deck of a destroyer, engaging with the crew as fluently and as easily as he would engage with his peers in this place—quite a remarkable communicator, and just had a way with people. He was very hardworking. He was always doing something. You would go and see him in his office and he always had time for you, but he was writing something or poring over some work. He was an incredibly hard worker, very courteous, well-liked and respected across the chamber.
He was full of surprises. I look up somewhat nervously at the President, because he thinks I am probably going to tell this story—and I am. We were on a trip to Taiwan together—in fact, I think it was Senator Bernardi, Senator Parry, Senator Ferguson, myself and Senator Ronaldson. It was one of those moments in diplomacy where we were with the parliamentarians during the middle of the day, about to enter their equivalent of question time. It was a lunch, something had happened, they wanted to have a toast, and one of them had thrown down a very large glass of red wine followed by a little sort of short shot glass, and apparently that was to be consumed later. In any event, we picked those with the largest livers, so Senator Bernardi was sent in to bat and did something of a similar ilk, and Senator Parry, and then myself. That was all part of this diplomatic exchange, and there was a bit of ho-humming, as normally happens in those matters, and then, of course, we thought, 'Oh well, here's Senator Trood—he's a professor; he's last, you know, poor thing.' And so he has just taken a sip out of the glass of wine and then replaced it, and everyone said, 'Oh look, no, no—you're supposed to scull it.' So he then had measured the amount he had taken perfectly, and poured this evil spirit into it and then threw the whole thing down, to much applause and gusto, because he was the most unlikely looking person to have been able to evidence that sort of behaviour.
But in that room, part of what I thought about was not only the laughter—everybody knew him. They did not know who I was, they did not know who, I am sure, the President was, or Bernardi, but everybody knew who Russell was. No matter where you went, he always had this great affection for people. People actually knew who he was. Not only was he a senator, he was also Russell Trood.
When we lost him to this place, which was very sad, it was a great loss to public affairs. He continued in public affairs when he finished here. In 2012 he completed an appointment as the Special Envoy of the Prime Minister of Australia for Eastern Europe. During this time he also became the United Nations Association of Australia National President, and Director of the Griffith Asia Institute, where he encouraged better relations between Australia and Asia-Pacific countries. He will be remembered as a senator, a scholar, a diplomat who served this country and made a lasting and distinguished contribution to public affairs, particularly in his specialist field of international relations. We in parliament, and the wider community, have all lost a valued friend and esteemed colleague, and Australia is better for his public service. So on behalf of the Nationals, and this place more broadly, I pass on our condolences and thoughts to Professor Trood's family, his devoted wife, Dale, his children, James and Phoebe, and to his many friends. We will miss you. Vale Russell Trood.
I too rise to express both my personal condolences, and on behalf of the Greens, to the late Senator Trood's wife, Dale, family and friends. It is not very often that I would say this, but I genuinely think that he was a significant loss to this chamber. It is not often I say that about people from the other side, but I think he was a genuine loss to the Senate, given the depth of his knowledge and understanding and his personal contributions.
I am speaking on behalf of the Greens because we were part of the class of 2004. Every senator in this place knows what it is like be part of the class that comes in. You become closer to those people in the class than some of the other senators, because when you come in we all know you go to Senate school. You all share in the same experiences, but Senate school was a great leveller. You are all newbies, you are all coming in, and you think you understand how this place operates, but you really do not until you are actually here, so we shared those same learning experiences. I can still sit here and remember seeing Senator Trood smiling across the chamber at some joke that had been made, some witticism that had been made, and he genuinely had a smile that lit up his face, and you thought, 'Oh, actually, if Russell's smiling at that, it must've been pretty witty or pretty funny,' and sometimes, of course, you would not hear what was said on the other side, but you would know something had been said.
Senator Brandis in particular, but also Senator Wong, outlined his enormous lifelong contribution to public debate, his outstanding achievements which he brought to this place. He did not big-note himself. It was through his words and his participation and work that you understood the depth of his knowledge and contribution. As I said, I think his loss to this place was significant. His loss, in terms of his contribution on international relations and foreign policy, is significant to Australia but in particular to this place. And I think in this time that we are facing at the moment his loss will be felt because that measured, deep understanding of foreign policy and international relations will not be there to be part of the debate.
While I did not always agree with the comments he made, I did genuinely listen and appreciate his contribution. It made you sit and think about what he was saying. He did it in a dignified, courteous—as has been said—manner. And I think he was what my mother would say was a true gentleman. He made very significant contributions to this place in a way that many others do not. Some of us are louder, more raucous, myself included. But he had his own way of getting his point across very effectively. It was a sad loss when he left the Senate. It is now a sad loss that he has passed on at such a young age. Vale Russell Trood. On behalf of the Greens, I also would like to express our condolences.
I rise to associate myself particularly with the remarks of Senator Brandis but also with those of Senator Wong, Senator Scullion and Senator Siewert in relation to the late Russell Trood. And as I commence I acknowledge former senator Brett Mason, who I note has entered the public gallery during the course of this condolence motion and of course, as Senator Brandis rightly acknowledged, was one of the trifecta of Liberal senators elected successfully at that 2004 election that brought Senator Trood ultimately to this parliament.
Russell was I would say twice in my parliamentary life something of a mentor to me. Upon my election to this place in 2007, when I entered here as a 32-year-old senator, Russell, with just two years under his belt here but much more life experience—a 58-year-old senator—I think took me as something of a student and a project of his for a period of time. I am forever grateful for the time we had sitting next to one another on the opposition benches as we did for a period of time, and the various lessons that, in his way, he managed to share with me during that time—always calm, knowledgeable, dignified, considered, helpful and constructive in his approach. He certainly drilled me in the most gentle and thoughtful of ways in ensuring that I did my research, knew my brief and tried to adopt a constructive approach to the way I went about my politics. Certainly that was the way he went about his politics.
But it was not just in those early years of my time here that Russell provided that type of role and mentoring. It was subsequent to my appointment to the ministry, after Russell had left this Senate. But of course, as others have reflected, education was one of Russell's great public policy passions, as a professor and academic researcher. It is a subject about which he was intensely knowledgeable. So, there were numerous occasions following my appointment firstly as assistant minister with responsibility for vocational education, about which Russell also spoke in his first speech, and then my appointment to the cabinet as the minister for education where I valued meeting with and discussing with Russell different aspects of education policy and the challenges that I have sought to confront in that space.
And I will greatly miss his wise counsel and knowledge and knowing that I had a trusted confidant at the other end of the phone with whom I could discuss some of those difficult issues and who would understand them. Russell was always—always—a friend and one you could trust completely, with absolute confidence, I found. And that of course is not always something that in this place we can say with such a degree of confidence and in such an absolute sense. On a day like today, a day of political disruption, I will say that I know that Russell did note in his valedictory speech that he himself saw some tumultuous times in his six years in the Senate, and there have been a few tumultuous times in the years since Russell left this place. He did note that they were tumultuous times, and on a day like today it would not have been at all uncommon for us to share a quiet glass of red wine with the odd other trusted colleague to discuss what it meant, what the implications were. Again, Russell would always bring a calm, thoughtful and considered approach to that but also a principled one, one that brought his views, his values, his belief in liberalism to the approach that he believed that we as a party needed to take into the future.
Many have spoken about Russell's contribution outside this place and his contribution in this place, particularly to foreign policy, and I will not repeat those words. I do want to highlight one other area of contribution that I believe deserves praise and recognition, and that is passing his final work in this place, which was as chair of the Senate Select Committee on the Federation and the significant report he produced, into which he put much effort, time and consideration and about which he spoke in his valedictory speech. In doing so, he highlighted the drift from what the founding fathers, one of whom was his great-grandfather, had set in place in the Constitution around the sharing of responsibilities. As with all of Russell's contributions, it was well researched, it was well considered. It provides advice and reference that we would perhaps all do well to go and look up and reconsider some of the thoughts and recommendations that Russell and his colleagues made in that report about how our federation can work more effectively into the future.
When Russell left this Senate I spoke to that valedictory motion about Russell and the other senators who left the Senate at the same time. I went back and had a look at my remarks, and for each of the senators I gave a quote. In the case of Russell, it was from a lesser-known 20th-century American writer, Carson McCullers:
There's nothing that makes you so aware of the improvisation of human existence as a song unfinished.
At the time, I said:
Russell is perhaps not a song unfinished so much as a book unfinished—a great classic novel—whose intelligence, capacity and knowledge deserve to be in this place longer and should be making a longer contribution.
Sadly, Russell left this place all too soon for somebody who could have made a much greater contribution, and he passed away all too soon for somebody who was still, through his work, making a significant contribution to public policy, to public life, to life in Queensland in particular and to life around the world. I was saddened greatly by his loss. I treasured the last few conversations I had with him over the last six months. I was terribly sorry not to be able to be at the recent service that commemorated Russell's life, but in this place, as I have also done personally, I add my condolences to his family, Dale, James and Phoebe, and record the enormous contribution made by a very significant person. I will always treasure his contribution not only here but also to my work in this place.
I would like to say a few words on behalf of my One Nation colleagues today with reference to the condolence motion for Russell Trood, a former Queensland senator. While I did not know the late former Senator Trood, I have been told he was a fine gentleman who served the state of Queensland and his country well. An adviser who works in one of my senator's offices did know him and tells me he had a great love of children and animals. He was a man who placed the interests of Australians first and disliked political correctness in all forms. Another of my advisers who had dealings with the former senator said Mr Trood was a true gentleman who was always calm and who approached matters in the most considered and intellectual way. It is clear from the words of others today and from my advisers who knew him that he was well liked and well respected. He possessed a civility that is sorely lacking in today's political landscape. Apparently he was up against me in the 2004 election in Queensland. Although I am not really happy about losing my bid for the Senate at that time, in light of what I have learnt about this man today, if my preferences went to getting him elected I do not feel so bad.
From the words that have been said today, Mr Trood was very highly regarded and respected. Maybe we would have agreed on quite a bit, maybe we would have been at loggerheads and maybe he would have given me very good advice on the role that I now hold today. On behalf of Pauline Hanson's One Nation and my fellow colleagues, I would like to pass on my thoughts and prayers to his family and to his close friends and colleagues. It is a difficult time for you all.
I also want to place on record my admiration for my friend and Queensland Liberal colleague Russell Trood, and express my sadness at his untimely passing. It is always difficult in these condolence motions to follow speakers of eloquence like my leader, George Brandis. George made a wonderful speech at the memorial service last Friday, which I was privileged to attend. Not only was George's speech so eloquent; it was so personal. I know George and Russell were very close colleagues, friends and confidants and, perhaps at times, conspirators in the rough-and-tumble of Queensland Liberal politics in those days. Curiously, just before Christmas I was cleaning out a drawer and I came across a slip of paper in a pair of trousers that I obviously had not worn for several years. On it there was a how-to-vote ticket with Russell Trood's name on it. His name was in a group in bold, and I do not think that was the group I was actually supporting at the time. It was an internal how-to-vote card that I had picked up from someone else.
I always thought that I was a far better politician than Russell was, but, without doubt, he was a far better parliamentarian than I was. I enjoyed Russell's company but was sometimes overawed by it. My case on an argument is one line and perhaps raising my voice, so it was always difficult with Russell—he always spoke softly, but always had an argument and the facts and the knowledge that made it very difficult to interact socially.
Mr President, at the memorial service on Friday—and this is about Russell, not about people here—your contribution was also so moving and accurate. The contribution from our former colleague Michael Ronaldson was also very appropriate. In my own very limited way, I want to pay my respects and offer my condolences. I particularly remember Russell in the 2004 election campaign, which George and Brett Mason and Russell ran. They travelled all around the state of Queensland, and, on occasions, senators not up for election travelled with them. I know how close George, Brett and Russell became during the campaign. I was delighted to always make sure Russell was introduced as the senator who actually gave the majority to the Howard government at that time. There was another senator from another political party who—sometimes inadvertently, I am sure—used to claim that credit, but it was actually Russell Trood who did the hard yards, did the nail-biting at the end of the count and actually gave the Howard government that quite unique win in the 2004 election. It is unique, and Russell was very much a part of it. I was not directly involved myself, but I know that he and George and Brett would have been agonising over the strategy and getting the then Prime Minister to write that letter. Russell would have been a very great contributor to that most momentous and exceptional event in the political history of Australia.
Others have related stories and made comments that I will not even try to repeat or better, other than to say that I agree with them all. It is sad that I lived in the north of Queensland, not in Brisbane, so I did not see a lot of Russell, but we made contact just a couple of months before his sickness was diagnosed. He came to see me about a matter related to the live cattle exports ban and particularly the Indonesian element of that. He was very involved with Indonesian activities—with the Australia-Indonesia Institute, with the relationship between Australia and Indonesia. I am sure that if he had not got sick that would have been an area where he would have extended his already high knowledge and involvement—all for the good of Australia and Indonesia.
To Russell, I say rest in peace, and to Dale, Phoebe and James, I extend to you my condolences and those of my wife, Lesley.
I rise to associate myself with the contributions of colleagues, and by the number of contributions that have been made it is clear that Russell Trood touched a lot of people and that there was a great deal of affection for him. When I first arrived in this place in 2004 I was sat on my own—I thought someone was trying to send me a message. Fortunately, not long after I arrived here Russell Trood was sat next to me. We were bench buddies for a number of years. We got on fabulously. From time to time people are moved around this chamber, but Russell and I entered a pact—no reflection on our colleagues, but we said that we were happy to sit anywhere in this chamber as long as we were sitting together. That served us very well. I could not have wished for a more agreeable colleague to spend time with. That period as bench buddies is a time of my life that I will always look back on with great fondness.
Russell and I did not always agree on issues. We took different sides in the VSU debate; in leadership ballots sometimes we were voting together and sometimes we were not. With Russell you could always have a good and civil discussion, probing the reasons for each other's thoughts, but never was there even the slightest degree of tension—there was always a great deal of respect. One of the marks of Russell was that you could debate anything with him, take any position, and the friendship would only be stronger as a result of that interaction. Some of us in this place did on occasion refer to Russell as 'Red Russell' because he was moderate in outlook as well as temperament. That was a little unfair to Russell, because he was fairly and squarely in the mainstream of the liberal tradition. A number of colleagues have said, and I agree, that Russell was the model of a senator. He was the sort of person that I think the voting public would like to think occupies this chamber. He was, as we all know, thoughtful, deliberative and widely read. He had a passion for good policy. He was curious, inquiring and independent of mind. He always had a dignity about him, and his contributions were of such a quality that it always made you want to be a better senator and a better contributor in this place yourself.
When I spoke in the valedictory address in 2011 when Russell was leaving us I said that it was my hope that Russell's absence from this place would prove to be, in line with his academic heritage, a mere sabbatical. Unfortunately that was not the case, and I think the Senate was the poorer for his absence and for the fact that the opportunity for him to return did not present itself. But Russell did continue to make an important contribution in public policy.
The longer we spend in this place and the more we work with colleagues, and particularly those with whom we have become close and have an affection, when they leave this place a little part of you leaves with them. It is comforting to ponder that hopefully they have appreciated taking a little bit of each of us with them, and I hope that was the case with Russell. We miss him; he should be remembered as one of the substantial figures of the Australian Senate. Russell and Russell's family are very much in my thoughts and in the thought of all of us at this time.
I too would like to associate myself with the condolence remarks for former senator Russell Trood. Unlike many in this chamber, I did not know Senator Trood as well as them, but I had become friendly with Russell as he was a former senator for Queensland. I was not even involved in politics in a serious way when Senator Trood was elected to this place in 2004, but I was fortunate enough to be there in the sequel, the re-election campaign in 2010. I distinctly remember first meeting Russell in the Criterion Hotel in Rockhampton during the 2010 election. Senator Brandis was there that evening. Former senator Mason was there that evening. Current MP Barnaby Joyce was there at that dinner. They were all at that dinner seeking to get re-elected at that time under a unified LNP banner.
There were some pretty large and loud personalities there in that room—I am not looking at you, former senator Brett Mason—but it was Russell Trood that I gravitated to that evening. I felt he had such a magnetic personality. He was such a gentleman. I was just a new starter, but he was very engaging with me. He had this way about him, almost a magical way of attracting people to him in a way that you could not but appreciate and find welcoming.
It was very clear, speaking to him, what a well-read and intelligent person he was. I did not realise how smart he was until I heard Senator Brandis mention that he realised he should not pursue a career in the law and go and do other more productive things with himself, which he did. He certainly did, and we very much miss his contribution in this nation now. As others have suggested, he made just as much, if not a greater, contribution outside this place as in it. He would be a very valuable voice in the world right now in favour of openness and the importance of international relations and a strong voice in favour of our country being an active and engaging participant in our region.
I was looking forward to catching up with former senator Trood last year, when I spoke at a Griffith Asia Institute function. It was only then that I realised the gravity of his illness. It was very sad to hear about, because he certainly had a lot to give and was giving a lot through that institute. To Dr Kathleen Turner and her team at the Griffith Asia Institute I express my deep condolences. I am sure that Russell Trood's legacy will live on through that institute. Its work is continuing and, I suggest, is even more important now than perhaps it was a few years ago.
We could also use Russell in other ways. As Senator Hanson mentioned, he did actually beat Pauline Hanson and One Nation. We could certainly use those talents as well, but we will have to persist without his experience, his guidance and his good nature. My deep condolences go to Russell's family and I pass on all our sympathy to them and hope that they get some solace from the contribution that he has made in this place and the number of lives he has touched through the work he has done here and elsewhere.
I wish to add my condolences to those expressed this afternoon in this chamber in remembrance of former senator Russell Trood from Queensland. I did not serve with Russell, but I was the campaign director in 2010 who failed to see get him re-elected—a failure which, I am happy to report, he did not hold against me personally. Looking up at former senator Mason there, in relation to the story of the preferences from the Sex Party, which has become either the truth or an urban myth about how we got Senator Mason over the line, I wish that perhaps the Sex Party had got more votes and we could have got Russell Trood over the line.
Russell was a great servant not just to the Liberal National Party and the former Liberal Party, which he served a branch chair, but to the public at large. More importantly, he was a great servant to thinking. He was one of those rare creatures in this zoo—someone who actually thought before he spoke. Sometimes when I speak I wish I had his patience to slow down my tongue before my thoughts manage to catch up with me.
I think Senator Williams is seconding that motion. I had the privilege, and it was a privilege, of going to the Queensland Conservatorium of Music last Friday and listening to some great speeches honouring Russell Trood, sitting there with his family and friends, his former staff and party stalwarts. I was trying to remember the first time I met Russell. It was in 2009. I had waddled out to his office in Springwood. I went in there, and being a campaign director I was talking about what we needed to do. He had all these books. I remember sitting there looking at all these books and thinking, 'I wonder if he has read all these books.' I was thinking, 'This is actually what I think a senator is.' I had not met a senator before. 'Lots of books—this is pretty cool!' He was an unabashed intellectual. I think sometimes in Australia we do have a race to the bottom, but it is good when you have people like Russell Trood who are not just a speed bump or handbrake, but try to turn the car around and take us back up in the pursuit of intellectual honesty.
He was a liberal with the moderate views of the broad church that is the Liberal National Party. He was decent, he was honest, he had an evil sense of humour and a twinkle in his eye when he was trying to tell a story or listening to someone tell an even better story. His departure from this place in 2011 was a loss to parliament, but his death last month is a loss to all of us, whether family, friend or foe.
I would like to be very brief and pass on my condolences to Russell's family. Like your good self, Mr President, Senator Siewert and myself are the class of 2004, that dynamic bunch of new entrants back then. Russell was in our gang. Russell was an absolute gentleman. We can have some argy-bargy across this chamber and we can really get stuck into each other, but Russell was the sort of senator who never had a bad word to say about anyone—not to our faces anyway; I do not know what he said about us while having a beer with George or Brett. It is good to see you too, Brett. From my own personal feelings towards Russell, I miss you, mate. You were exemplary in your behaviour in this chamber. I have to say that if the other 75 of us conducted ourselves like you did, Russell, there would be nothing to talk about in question time. All the very best to his family.
Thank you, Senator Sterle. Just in summing up, it would be remiss of me not to make some very brief comments. I associate myself with all the remarks and fine contributions this afternoon in honouring a dear colleague. It is great to have His Excellency, former Senator Brett Mason, Ambassador to the Netherlands here, who was such a big part of the campaign. So, welcome, Your Excellency.
It was a great honour for me to represent the Senate at both the funeral and memorial service of former Senator Trood and to personally and publicly convey the condolences of the Senate, and in particular our colleagues, to the Trood family.
The contributions are always heartfelt and always moving. When you do come in, as Senator Siewert and Senator Sterle mentioned, in the same class of 2004, you do have a common bond that lasts throughout your entire Senate career. We do miss him from that perspective. We have lost certainly a great gentleman and a great contributor to debate, and intellectual debate in particular, in this place. But his family have lost him now as a father, as a husband, as a brother and as a good friend to many people in Queensland.
Colleagues, it is a sad day when you lose a Senator who you have served with, and in particular one who was so good. Could I ask all of you to join me in standing to signify the assent to the motion by having a period of silence.
Honourable senators having stood in their places—
Thank you honourable senators. The motion is certainly carried.