Senate debates

Wednesday, 30 March 2022

Parliamentary Representation


3:35 pm

Photo of Sam McMahonSam McMahon (NT, Country Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise today to take this opportunity to thank the Senate and to express my gratitude in a number of areas over the last three years of my time in this place. As we all know, in June last year the Country Liberal Party exercised their democratic right and selected a new Senate candidate. There have been many hours and column centimetres to discuss the merits of this decision—or otherwise. But I would like to have a few other reflections.

In reflecting on my time in this place, I want to start by acknowledging those around me who have offered me tremendous support over an extended period of time. I made some initial mistakes in who I chose to receive advice from. I have acknowledged those mistakes, and they continue to follow me in this place. Personal staff, as we know, can make or break an elected member, and I've certainly experienced both.

I've taken the opportunity to bring my current staff to Canberra to witness the budget and see firsthand the parliament in action, which, unfortunately, they have been unable to do over most of my term. Let me start with some of the staff that I brought with me. Helen Bateman has been with the office from the onset and, more than most, has experienced the high and lows with me. Helen has seven decades of life experience, many of those in politics, and I am grateful for her tireless work in keeping me on schedule and for her genuine and sincere engagement with constituents.

Kylie Bonanni joined my office last year. Kylie swept into the office and brought with her substantial organisation skills, with her ability to connect to people and create from scratch programs and events for ministers and even the Prime Minister at short notice.

I'd like to acknowledge Lance Northey, who's not actually here today. He has been my long-suffering media adviser, and, given some of the media attention I have attracted, his has not been an easy task. He has filled the shoes with all of his many years of experience, as you would expect. To you, Hollie: I would thank you for bringing Lance to me.

Marianne St Clair was a personal friend before I entered politics. She gives me endless joy and laughter, mainly at her own expense, but she doesn't mind; she's a good sport. Marianne, thank you for working tirelessly for our constituents and being a thorn in the side of Telstra and the NBN.

Riley Schipp is a young Territorian who is studying here at ANU. Throughout COVID, he has, unfortunately, been quite estranged from us, but he contributes to our WhatsApp conversations and is outstanding at making mango daiquiris, a very important skill in a Territory office.

Kris Civitarese—Big Kris—joined my office after helping me fire a previous office manager. It's been a gift that keeps on giving. Sorry, Kris. You're like a boomerang: you keep coming back to us. Sometimes you don't know what you've been missing until you find it. Kris became a confidant of mine, and he steadied the office through the use of his own measured temperament and people skills.

I will mention Ashley Manicaros, who took over from Kris when Kris thought that he wanted to return to his home and wife in Tennant Creek. It turns out he was wrong; he came back to Darwin. Ashley was familiar to many in this place through a long career in politics. It seems some of you never appear to leave. He came back to Darwin, but, as he was familiar to many in this place through a long career in politics, it seemed some of you never appeared to leave. He left my office a few weeks ago to pursue other challenges, which I didn't understand, because I thought I was a pretty good challenge! But perhaps he meant he wanted less, not more.

To Wayne Nayda, my husband, who has been the reason I have been able to come to this place over the past three years without a tribe of, as Michaelia said this week, fur babies trailing behind me. It's often been expressed that we may like a Senate cattle dog, and I can assure you that you would have had several if I had not been able to leave them at home. He has also been incredibly supportive of me and my job, particularly over the last 12 months.

To all of my colleagues: I have and will forever appreciate your candour, your counsel and your friendship. And of course, particularly, my Nats Senate family: Matt, who is, unfortunately, not here; Susie; Perin; and our leader, Bridget. To all of you who have assisted my office by answering endless questions, taking time out of your busy days—and thank you very much to Holly, Keith Pitt and Bridget particularly for generously lending me your staff. I really, really appreciate the loaners. I'll just mention Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce and Vikki Campion, who have been absolute rocks to me during my time here. For those of you who know Barnaby well, he is a very kind and caring person. As a result of that kindness and caring attitude, he often tends to pick up stray people, and I kind of feel like I'm one of his strays that he just never managed to rehome.

On the opposition side, I wish to personally acknowledge Senator Don Farrell, who, despite his personal opposition to voluntary assisted dying, was prepared to offer his assistance in getting my Ensuring Northern Territory Rights Bill debated. His interactions with me were sincere, and his word was his word. I also want to say thank you for the kind words and often random calls and text messages from Senator Malarndirri McCarthy. She's obviously a Territory colleague and she has been a great friend and support. People think that, in the heat of political battle, we never work together, but of course those of us in this place know that that is not true. One of our greatest abilities in this place is the ability to work with each other. And of course, when we work together, the biggest winners from our point of view are Territorians.

I'd also like to mention—and I mentioned her in the condolence motion on Monday—Senator Kimberley Kitching. I spoke of my work with her and the joy that I had in sharing the joint standing committee with her.

I'd like to acknowledge all of my colleagues. Sorry if I've left some out; you're all special and important to me.

There has been much written about my resignation from my former party, the CLP, and speculation over why. My losing preselection was not connected to my resignation at all. A democratic decision was made. We can argue the merits of that another time, but it was a democratic decision, and they exercised their right to do that. I have no problem with that decision at all. My reason to resign was driven entirely by my former staff member, Jason Riley, who did abuse and terrorise my office, including myself, and the party's decision to place him into a position on their central council. To have to sit in meetings with such a person was a very stressful experience and one that has not been without me seeking out professional assistance to overcome the anxiety and PTSD it created.

The reported treatment of my fellow senator Kimberley Kitching—as I've just touched on Kimberley—by her Labor colleagues greatly saddens me. Whether or not it contributed to her death is a matter of speculation and it will likely never be determined. But that's really irrelevant. If it happened, it should not have happened and yet it seems that it may have—and so it does over and over again, unfortunately. We need to accept that poor behaviour can be part of our profession, and that part needs to be eliminated from our game. A great friend of mine once said, 'Politics is a nefarious business,' and he was right. My only hope is that we are learning and evolving, and that it won't always have to be this way.

This alleged behaviour towards Senator Kitching should not become a partisan football, for it is not constrained to any one particular side of politics. We on this side might laud ourselves over the recent response to claims of bullying and sexual harassment with the Jenkins report. And it was a very appropriate and good response. We will now find ourselves tempted to point to the other side with an attitude of 'look over there; see what they did'. We should refrain, for bullying, harassment and victim-blaming can still be occurring on all sides of politics. Just a few weeks ago I was the subject of a vicious display of victim-blaming in the media by a former senior staffer. This was in response to my revelation that I had resigned from the CLP due to inaction on my concerns for my personal safety. This public attack was female-on-female, as are the allegations surrounding Senator Kitching. It seems it's not a man thing, a faction thing or a party thing, but it certainly can be a political thing. I don't want this to become a finger-pointing or pointscoring exercise; I want it to be a learning one. I think of the premature death of my colleague Kimberley Kitching and one thing that haunts me is that it so easily could have been me. We can honour her memory by not making this a political issue but by fixing it so that politics is a better place, particularly for women.

I would now ask your indulgence to go over a few of the things that have been important to me during my time here. When I entered this place there was no COVID; the world seemed normal, and then the world came crashing down for the rest of my term. But I got stuck in and I wanted to achieve things. I didn't realise how short a time I would have in this place, so it is lucky that I got stuck in and tried to make Australia and, particularly, the Territory, a better place.

At this election, voters will get to elect two members for the Northern Territory in the House of Representatives. It is through the combined efforts of myself, working with my colleagues, and members opposite that we saved these two seats. I want to acknowledge the role of then Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormick, Barnaby Joyce, Llew O'Brien and Mathias Cormann, with Bridget McKenzie in this as well. Had we failed then we would be electing one person less to argue our case in Canberra.

In the agriculture space, we saw a modification and positive changes to ACIL 3.0 regulations. For that I thank my Nationals colleagues and Minister Littleproud for his open-minded approach as to the consequences for producers after they were abandoned by even the live exporters themselves. I am grateful that I had the support of my colleagues in the Nationals Senate team to convince the government not to appeal the live export decision of the Federal Court. We could easily have extended the pain, but common sense prevailed.

The introduction and development of an agricultural visa which now has Vietnam signed up to the bilateral agreement will assist the industry to address workforce shortages, as we did with the seasonal worker and other programs.

Mangoes are the second largest value agricultural industry in the Northern Territory and COVID nearly wiped this out with a lack of access to pickers. I think Minister Littleproud thought that I was haunting and stalking him because every time in the months leading up to a mango picking season there would be many phone calls. In the end, we managed to save about 80 per cent of the mango crop. And now with this ag. visa I am positive for the industry going forward.

I was also able to argue for the removal of the working hours cap for international students, which has eased the pressure when it comes to their ability to earn income on the back of COVID and provided the hospitality and tourism industries another source of valued workers.

But there are still policy battles to be had, starting with the NT's ability to make its own laws. The Andrews bill is almost a quarter of a century old and it needs to be removed. Every other state in Australia is allowed to at least debate voluntary assisted dying laws and yet we in the NT and the ACT are not. We are not second-class citizens so I ask that we not be treated this way. To quote a member opposite, 'We don't need voluntary assisted decision-making.'

The other fight at the moment in the Northern Territory—I know it happens as well in other jurisdictions—is that we are being mandated with COVID vaccinations. I'm not an antivaxxer. I'm a pro-vaxxer. I'm a scientist. I'm a vet. I'm fully vaccinated. I support vaccination. I support COVID vaccination. But that's my choice. I don't want to have to have it brought upon people that in order to work you have to undergo a medical procedure. There are also the powers that have been given to our Chief Health Officer, specifically in the Northern Territory. We should never shirk our responsibilities in parliament, but we are a democracy and we have seen the removal of rights, which makes me personally uncomfortable.

Moving forward, I also have concerns about the support for business and industry in the term ahead. Labor and their green partners are anti-energy, anti-industry and anti-agriculture. A Labor-Greens government is not what Australia needs right now.

I also have grave concerns for the ability of the NT government to expend the Commonwealth funds that we've committed in areas, particularly roads and infrastructure. We've delivered a very generous budget. The problem is the NT government's inability to roll that money out and spend it where it's needed.

Many people have asked about the future for me—what I'm passionate about and what I'm working on. I'll go to my maiden speech where I talked about nuclear energy and how we cannot continue to ignore it as part of our energy mix and our broader solution to reaching net zero emissions. My position is similar, if not stronger, than when I came to this place. The UK, the US, Canada and France all have around a 20 per cent nuclear mix in their energy plants and in their plans to achieve net zero. We can't be blind to this. We must explore every means available to mankind to address climate change concerns. We will do Australia a great injustice if we do not develop gas reserves and if we bury our head in the sand when it comes to nuclear energy.

In closing, let me say, on reflecting on what may lie ahead for me in the future, I have made no decisions at this stage about my immediate future, which may confuse some people. But I am a qualified veterinary surgeon. I was accepted into university as a 16-year-old, completed my degree the age of 20 and have worked in the industry ever since. I have the opportunity to return to a successful business or many other opportunities as my time in this place has taught me to take advantage of the skills and the things that I've learnt.

All of us grow into the role of senator over time. None of us slip into the role and become the most effective politician from day one. I know I wasn't when I first was elected. But, given more time in this place, my contributions would have been greater than the opportunity has afforded me.

I'm lucky my future is more secure than others who depart this place and than most others facing the next election. I leave clear of mind knowing I did the best job possible and with a list of achievements which will last well beyond my time here.

I thank you, Mr President, and I thank the Senate, the people of the Northern Territory and those within the CLP who supported me on my endeavours and expressed sorrow at my departure. My road was bumpy, but then living in and coming from the Northern Territory the roads are always bumpy. So, thank you, Mr President, and thank you to all members, senators and staff in this place.

Photo of Slade BrockmanSlade Brockman (President) Share this | | Hansard source

Thank you for your service, Senator McMahon.

3:57 pm

Photo of Bridget McKenzieBridget McKenzie (Victoria, National Party, Minister for Emergency Management and National Recovery and Resilience) Share this | | Hansard source

I just briefly wanted to extend on behalf of coalition senators, and obviously the National Party more broadly, thanks to Senator McMahon for her service. Nigel Scullion left very, very big shoes to fill, but you brought a very typical Territory attitude, guts and bravery to the role. You called a spade a spade. You called things as you saw it. You were brutally honest at times with your colleagues, whether it be in party room, in this place or in the committee work you undertook.

You listed your list of achievements, and they're significant. It's because you used the processes available to you and the fact that you had a team and a party that was going to back you in, and you were able to deliver real outcomes.

One of the things you focused on was your love of the Defence Force and your concern for defence industry, our sovereignty and security more broadly. The conversations you had within the committee but also with Minister Dutton to that effect, I think, have been taken very seriously by the government.

I want to thank you. I want to wish you all the best. I look forward to going shooting in Territory when I get up there and thanks for your service.

3:58 pm

Photo of Malarndirri McCarthyMalarndirri McCarthy (NT, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I'd like to put on the parliamentary record my thanks to you, Senator Sam McMahon, as your fellow senator in the Northern Territory. We sit on opposite sides, and I think that's a really good thing. There's probably not too much we agree on, but when we come together we know that there are issues that are so critical for the people of the Northern Territory and you mentioned those in your speech.

Certainly saving the seat of Lingiari and ensuring that the people of the Northern Territory had two representatives in the House of Representatives and maintaining that was absolutely critical, Sam. It was wonderful to be able to work with you on that. I certainly witnessed firsthand the enormous pressures you experienced on your side. I commend you for your ability to walk through that kind of fire, knowing you're doing so on behalf of the people we both represent.

I reflect on having first met you when coming to politics and out on the hustings across the Territory. They say the Territory is a small place, but it's funny that we never got to meet each other until we were on the campaign trail. Then we started following each other to the different polling booths around the communities. I have to say that people then were asking, 'Who is this Dr Sam McMahon?' Sam, you leave the Senate obviously way too soon in my view, but you can leave the Senate knowing that in the three years that you have been here—with COVID for two of them, and that has been incredibly challenging—you have achieved enormously on behalf of the people of the Northern Territory with the vote of keeping Lingiari and also with the voter ID concerns that we obviously had about the short time frame that people across the Northern Territory would have had to understand that bill. Your private senator's bill must be debated here in the Senate. I hope that those coming behind you will support that and push it through. I have no doubt that you will continue to support that from the outside.

For me personally, it has been incredibly important to be able to work with you—agree on things and disagree on things. I always found that when we came together in an environment of respect, even if we didn't quite understand each other's values, you did respect the fact that we were there representing the people of the Northern Territory. That has been an important journey for me as well. So all the best, mate. I'll certainly see you out and about across the Territory. Thank you for your work on behalf of the people of the Northern Territory.

4:02 pm

Photo of Anne RustonAnne Ruston (SA, Liberal Party, Minister for Families and Social Services) Share this | | Hansard source

I just want to say a few short words about somebody I have known for only three years. What an impact you've made in those three years that you have been here, Sam. As Senator Bridget McKenzie said, you came here to fill big shoes. Nigel Scullion had been here for 17 years and he had sort of established the crazy Territory tradition here and mango daiquiris became famous. Everyone thought, 'No way the next senator from the Northern Territory could ever possibly go anywhere near touching the sides of what Nigel did.' I have to say, Sam, you've done the Territory proud. I think your reputation as you leave here will be equally as colourful and interesting as that of Nigel. You've made a huge amount of friends since you've been here. I think we all count ourselves as your friend, and we know that when we get to the Territory we'll all be staying at your place!

The other thing I have to say is that, Sam, you have always maintained an extraordinary sense of humour. I was considering your first speech. You said, when describing your beautiful home, the Territory:

To many Australians, the NT is an enigma. They know it exists. It has a rock, a park, and a city named after some guy who discovered swimming iguanas …

I'm not sure that's the way I would necessarily describe Darwin, but I think that just epitomises the way you take life—you don't take yourself seriously but you take what you do really seriously. I think those sorts of comments show that. The rest of your maiden speech went on to explain how you had an extraordinary knowledge of the history and culture and what the Territory means to you. Even though it wasn't where you were born, from listening to your contributions over the last three years I know that the Territory is your heart and you came here to represent the Territory, and that's exactly what you did.

So, mate, it has been a huge privilege to have spent three years in this place with you. We've had many colourful evenings and many colourful days. I'm going to miss you a lot. I'll miss your honesty, your directness and your passion. But the one thing I am super looking forward to is the next chapter of the life that is Sam McMahon, because I'm sure it will be equally interesting because that is the person that you are. So go with all of our love and all the best for whatever comes next, Sam McMahon.

4:05 pm

Photo of David FawcettDavid Fawcett (SA, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

or FAWCETT () (): Thank you, Senator Sam McMahon. I've had the privilege, in the three years that you've been here, to chair both the Senate Environment and Communications Legislation Committee, which you were a member on, and the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade, where, as other people have said, you showed a great interest in defence but also took on the responsibility of chairing the PFAS subcommittee and working with communities around Australia. Whilst I won't echo all the other comments about how you've approached the task more broadly in the Senate, in those two particular areas can I just say: thank you for bringing your scientific mind and your commitment to evidence based policy to the various inquiries and reports that we did through the environment and communications committee, particularly in the environment area, where there's a lot of passion and a lot of people feel strongly about things but often the arguments aren't based on fact. Your ability to dig into the science and to bring forward fact was really prescient, and I really appreciate that contribution you've made as well as the contribution you've made to the whole area of foreign affairs, defence, trade and the PFAS subcommittee. Thank you, Sam.

4:06 pm

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

I rise on behalf of the Australian Labor Party in opposition to acknowledge and thank Senator McMahon for her service to the people of the Northern Territory, to the Senate and, therefore, to the nation. I will just make some brief remarks about this.

I want to recognise the approach that Senator McMahon has taken to representing the Northern Territory here in this chamber. I want to publicly thank her for the principled stand she took in relation to the voter ID laws that were proposed and eventually abandoned by the government. In doing so, she did stand up for the interests of her community at some personal cost. I recall an interview with NITV outside Parliament House, where she said she'd raised some concerns about the bill with her colleagues and expressed concerns about how the laws would impact, particularly on Indigenous Territorians. We thought her stance was the right one, but we recognise it wasn't necessarily popular on her own side. By making public those concerns, she did influence the course of that legislation, which obviously did not proceed.

Senator McMahon has also been, as Senator McCarthy said, very principled in her support for a minimum of two seats for the Northern Territory, and that is an important achievement for her. As she indicated, she's a strong advocate for Territory rights, and I agree with her views about the Andrews bill. I wish her well for this next stage in her life.

If there's nothing further on Senator McMahon from the government, I will proceed to Senator Carr. Senator Carr is unable to be here today. Depending on what happens in the election and what happens with the parliamentary sittings, obviously, if we sit before 30 June, I would anticipate that Senator Carr will come back to the Senate and participate in what I'm sure will be a very memorable valedictory. But, in the event that the Senate does not sit again prior to 30 June, I didn't want this time to pass without the opportunity to make some remarks about Senator Carr.

On behalf of the Labor Party—the opposition—and my Senate colleagues, I want to thank our Labor comrade Senator the Hon. Kim Carr for his service and contribution over what is one of the most significant terms served by a senator in this parliament. Senator Carr first entered the Senate in 1993, filling the casual vacancy caused by the resignation of John Button, a Labor giant. It was fitting that Senator Carr replaced Australia's pre-eminent industry minister. In his time here, he has been a champion for Australian industry—most notably as Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research in the Rudd and Gillard governments, where he and I served as members of the cabinet together. He also held additional portfolios during this time, including in manufacturing, defence materiel and human services. The higher education, science, research and manufacturing communities could not have had a more passionate champion and advocate around the cabinet table.

In recent years, he has been an invaluable contributor to the Labor opposition under both Bill Shorten and Anthony Albanese. His role on the legal and constitutional affairs committee has guided scrutiny of an abundance of legislation, particularly in the area of migration. Previously, in his position on the Senate economics committee, he was the spearhead for the opposition's critique of failures in the government's management of Australia's defence shipbuilding program.

As Deputy Chair of the Senate Standing Committee for the Scrutiny of Delegated Legislation he has worked diligently in combination with the chair of the committee, Senator Fierravanti-Wells, to ensure the highest level of scrutiny was applied to the making of government regulations. Together these two senators, Senator Carr and Senator Fierravanti-Wells, have energised the work of this 90-year-old committee to ensure its continuing relevance and importance for many years to come.

I want to acknowledge and honour the role that Senator Carr has played as a contributor to Labor's Senate team. I want to acknowledge and honour his nearly three decades of service to the people of Victoria and the nation. And I want to honour and acknowledge his passionate advocacy for the Labor cause and, in particular, for those issues about which he cares so passionately.

4:11 pm

Photo of Jess WalshJess Walsh (Victoria, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I too rise to share some reflections on Senator Comrade Kim Carr, in the event that election timing prevents a more fulsome contribution later. I note that Kim has been an absolute giant of the Victorian Labor Party, and I know that, as Kim moves to a life beyond his parliamentary work, he will absolutely continue to be a Labor stalwart, a champion of the mighty Victorian union movement, and a warrior for Australian manufacturing and the opportunities it can bring working people. Anyone in the Victorian Labor Party who has witnessed Kim Carr at a Labor Party conference has seen a man and a machine in action like no other. Always sporting his iconic three-piece suit, Kim Carr could always prosecute an argument on the conference floor and in the Socialist Left caucus—and I can tell you, Mr President, he didn't lose too many! From the moment Senator Carr set foot in this place, he was driven by a commitment to standing up for working people. That was fundamentally why Kim was here, and over the decades he has passionately defended the Australian union movement and maintained incredibly close and strong ties with Victorian unions.

As Senator Wong noted, being the Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research in the Rudd-Gillard government has undoubtedly been the highlight of Kim's absolutely extraordinary career. Kim championed the links between research, innovation and advanced manufacturing really like no other. It was his vision that brought together the innovation and industry portfolios. As a minister, he was able to put that understanding into practice, defending jobs in the Australian car industry and fighting absolutely tooth and nail to keep those jobs and those skills here in Australia. This really was the portfolio that Kim was made for. As a minister, he read widely; he was voracious. He consulted widely, and everywhere that I go in Victoria today to meet with industry, to meet with higher education or to meet with unions, Kim is consistently recognised in those conversations as an absolute powerhouse of this portfolio.

On a personal note, I want to acknowledge Kim's wife, Carole, who has always been at Kim's side and who is just as passionate about the Australian Labor Party and the union movement as Kim is. I am sure Carole, the kids and the grandchildren will like having Kim at home a little bit more. As a fellow avid gardener, I know his garden will like having Kim at home a little bit more too. But, of course—as I think we all in this place know—if anyone knows Kim, they will know that, while he's retiring from the parliament, he will not be retiring from the mighty Australian labour movement. I look forward to many, many more years of Kim's passion for our party, our unions and our people.

4:15 pm

Photo of Paul ScarrPaul Scarr (Queensland, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Senator Scarr is rising to pay tribute to someone who I consider to be a good friend: Senator Carr. Can I just say how much Senator Carr's contribution on the Scrutiny of Delegated Legislation Committee, the Scrutiny of Bills Committee and the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee has had an enduring positive impact on me. If someone had said to me before I came to this place that one of the senators I would speak the most fondly of and have a lot in common with in terms of respect for institutions and the importance of those institutions in this place was going to be Senator Kim Carr, I would have been surprised. But perhaps I would have been naive. I would just like to pay tribute to Senator Carr's intellectual rigour, his sense of humour and his generosity of spirit in terms of sharing lessons—hard-learned lessons, no doubt, over his years of contributions in this place.

I pay my regards to Senator Carr. One of the best speeches I have heard in this place over the last three years was Senator Carr paying tribute to his father-in-law—the background of his father-in-law, who was as a refugee from Europe. I think that speech summed up Senator Carr to me. He leaves this place with my enduring affection, having made a very deep impression upon me.

4:16 pm

Photo of Tim AyresTim Ayres (NSW, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I want to associate myself with all of the comments that have been made up to now in relation to Kim, and I thank Senator Scarr for his generous remarks. I think that for those of us in this place who've had a background in manufacturing and with the AMWU—and there are a number of those here—Kim Carr leaves a very important legacy in this place and more broadly across the Labor movement.

Notwithstanding the fact that Kim was, and will continue to be, a formidable operator in the Labor movement, and that not everybody always agreed with Kim—sometimes famously—he is held in deep regard in the manufacturing sector, in the scientific community, in the research community and in higher education as really understanding the connection between Australian research and development and jobs for working-class and regional Australians in manufacturing. He understood that connection and understood the role that good, smart forward-looking industry policy could play in building a better country.

He had humble beginnings in Tumut and he loves the Snowy Mountains—as a Victorian, I expect that he's going to spend a significant part of his retirement in regional New South Wales. Kim is in fact one of the most well-read members of this Senate. He engages deeply with writing and research, much more in the UK Labour tradition, if I can put it that way, of understanding and having a real connection with the intellectual work in terms of philosophy right across to science. That's something that will be missed. He is, I have to say, as another member of Labor's national executive, the longest-serving member of the National Executive of the Labor Party in its history, which was a remarkable achievement—he only stepped down recently. When you think of some of the characters in the Labor movement's history who served on that body, to be in the position where you are the longest-serving member is quite an achievement. His contribution to the movement is immense. As somebody who didn't always agree with Kim on a range of issues, what I can say about it is that you would always listen to Kim's view and you should always have respected Kim's view about these things.

As I understand it, we may have another opportunity where Kim himself may be able to make some remarks. I hope that that is the case because he does deserve the opportunity to make some valedictory remarks in this place.

4:20 pm

Photo of Dean SmithDean Smith (WA, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Very briefly, I would like to add my remarks and to associate myself with the remarks made by Senator Scarr. The Scrutiny of Bills Committee had its last meeting, we suspect, of the 46th Parliament this morning, and Senator Carr was present with Senator Davey, Senator Scarr and myself. We reflected on the important work that the scrutiny committees of the Senate do. There's absolutely no doubt that this is an institution that evolves over time. Some of us, as conservatives, might be surprised to learn that. I've certainly learned that and come to understand that. But I think one of the evolutions of this place that is unsatisfactory is the loss of its scrutiny role and the loss of interest that senators bring to their scrutiny functions. Certainly Senator Carr stands as a powerful testament to the importance of the scrutiny function. As Senator Ayres just said, Senator Carr is absolutely someone who should be listened to. Certainly on scrutiny matters, we paid very close attention to him. We thank him very, very much for what is a very, very important legacy that he leaves to that function of the Senate.

4:21 pm

Photo of Louise PrattLouise Pratt (WA, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Assistant Minister for Manufacturing) Share this | | Hansard source

Comrade Carr, I hope that you will have the opportunity to come back and make some valedictory remarks and that we will be able to pay proper tribute to your fantastic career then. Right now, though, in case we don't get that opportunity, I want to say that Kim's absolutely enormous intelligence, the traditional, very masculine senatorial type that he has displayed, and his loud booming voice in this chamber will certainly be missed. In areas such as local content, industry policy, the Australian Research Council, manufacturing, higher education, antidumping, different elements of human rights and the Scrutiny of Bills Committee, there is so much to have learned from, and admired in, Comrade Carr. He didn't always agree with everyone internally in the Labor Party, but that was actually a good thing because you would always learn from the robustness of that debate. He was never a shrinking violet about stepping up and having the debate, and we are better off for that fact. In that context, I feel like I've been able to learn a great deal from Senator Carr because of the visibility of the way that he has involved himself very publicly in those debates internally and, indeed, here in the parliament.

I pay tribute to my friend and comrade Kim, and I hope to see you back here after the election, should we have an opportunity to reconvene.

4:23 pm

Photo of Anne UrquhartAnne Urquhart (Tasmania, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I would like to add my remarks to the comments that have been made by senators on this side and on the other side as well. I have worked in this place with Kim for 11 years, but, for the 20 years before that, I worked with Kim as an AMWU organiser and state secretary. I always remember that, during the time when Kim was in the portfolio of industry, manufacturing and science, he was a frequent visitor to Tasmania. He came and visited the workplaces where I represented members, and I particularly remember a couple of those.

I remember a car component facility in Launceston that was having a lot of difficulty with finance and getting orders, and Kim stepped up to the plate. He got a delegation of Toyota and Ford executives together, he got the union representatives together and he got the ministers in the Victorian state parliament together, and we had a meeting. Out of that meeting, a number of things were forged, and that business continued to thrive for many years thereafter. Unfortunately, with the demise of the car industry, that business is no longer operating, but it was thanks to Kim that it got a number of years after that.

The other one was the Cadbury factory, which I had the ability to look after. That was probably one of my favourite places to look after. I remember many hours down there at that factory with Kim, talking about manufacturing, science, industry and innovation. At that time, the food industry was going through a lot of innovation, getting rid of a lot of manual handling work and with a lot of machinery and robotics coming in. We always called on Kim as part of the AMWU to come and look at these places to work through processes with us.

He will be missed here. Senator Pratt said his booming voice was never shy in the chamber, nor in our meetings. Obviously, in our caucuses you always heard Kim when he wanted to speak. I do hope he gets the opportunity to come back, but I know that he will look forward to being able to walk his two little grandsons to school almost every day now. I know he missed that during the long lockdowns when he stayed here in Canberra. I thank you, Kim, for your contribution in your public life and also to the union movement.

Photo of Slade BrockmanSlade Brockman (President) Share this | | Hansard source

There being no further contributions, I add my thanks on behalf of the Senate for the service of the departing senators.