Bill's Speeches

2015 VALEDICTORY


And thank you, Mr Speaker, for your service and the patience you and all the occupants of the chair, offer this Parliament.

On this final sitting day, a day of tired eyes and, possibly for some, sore heads.

As all of us in this place look forward to returning home, we think of those Australians who will not be home for Christmas.

The men and women of our defence force, serving our nation and the cause of peace around the world.

Our emergency services personnel: firefighters, ambos, nurses and police officers. For their sake, and for the sake of all Australians, we hope those on duty have a quiet Christmas.

And then there are the ordinary hard-working Australians for whom Christmas is another day when they sacrifice time with their family to help provide for their family.

Mr Speaker

Too often all of us in this place leave thanking our families to the end of our remarks.

They give up so much, and take on so much, so we can serve here.

To Chloe, Rupert, Georgette and Clementine, thank you for making it possible for me to do this job.

I love you and I’m looking forward to seeing you soon.

Mr Speaker

When this Parliament rose last year, we all knew of the threat posed by sectarian hatreds in the Middle East and violent extremism here at home.

Since then, two gunmen – one in Martin Place and one in Parramatta – have reminded us of the need for heightened vigilance and stronger cohesion.

Attacks in Paris, Lebanon, Turkey and Mali have only emphasised that this is the world’s problem to confront and to solve.

But just as we did in the face of bushfires in the west and south, and cyclones in the north, Australians have stood strong.

Australians summoned, time and time again, the courage to carry on, and the compassion to care for those in need.

Australia can be proud of this, and much more, in the year that has been.

We celebrated Australia Day with a wonderful new Australian of the year and a somewhat surprising new knight.

Rosie Batty has helped Australians face up to the national crisis of family violence.

And in acknowledging her today, we remember 78 Australian women who have been killed this year.

Let us all vow not to rest until that number is zero – each and every year.

As a Parliament and a nation, we commemorated the centenary of a chilly dawn, when a group of brave young men clambered out of small boats onto an unfamiliar beach and into history.

For our sports-loving country, there was much to cherish:

On home soil, our Netballers and Cricketers both won World Cups.

In England, the Southern Stars reclaimed the Ashes.

At Flemington, Michelle Payne made history by half-a-length – and told every bloke who ever doubted any woman, to get stuffed.

On the hottest Grand Final day on record, the Hawks barely broke a sweat on their way to a three-peat.

And in a script he must have written himself, Jonathan Thurston kicked truly to claim glory for the Cowboys.

There was loss and sadness too.

Richie Benaud and Bart Cummings passed away – the voice of our summer and the embodiment of our spring.

We farwelled Labor giants Tom Uren and Peter Walsh.

In March, the towering presence of Malcolm Fraser left us.

His legacy, particularly his contribution to the multicultural society we all celebrate, will live long after him.

In this place, we offered our condolences to Don Randall’s family. Don Randall, an unstinting, unashamedly parochial advocate for his electorate.

We bid farewell to Joan Kirner, a trail-blazer and a fearless champion for women, for education and for Victoria.

And to Faith Bandler: an activist, a fighter and a warrior who only ever wielded the weapons of compassion, respect and intelligence.

Mr Speaker

All of us who speak in this chamber and in the other place are merely visitors here, for some 20 weeks a year.

We rely on the hard work, good humour and boundless patience of the people who come to work here every day.

The smooth running of this place depends upon the calm civility of the Clerks, the Sergeant-at-Arms and their office, the Tabling Office, the Parliamentary Library, Hansard and all the attendants in this chamber.

The kilometres of corridors around us house hundreds more people without whom there would not be a Parliament: security guards, plumbers, printers, switchboard operators, carters, physios, nurses and IT support.

Dom and the cheerful crew at Aussies, who can always be counted on for a bacon and egg roll and a coffee at a critical moment.

And in a place and a profession that creates a lot of mess, I want to pay a special tribute to all the Parliament House cleaners.

Joy, Maria, Anna and Lucia, you and your colleagues are stars – and you deserve a much better deal.

The Australian Federal Police are expert at fading into the background, but we are all grateful for the work they do to keep MPs and Senators safe – and can I give a special mention to those who work in the Melbourne CPO.

I also want to thank my Comcar drivers – Steve Smith and Peter Taylor.

I know my youngest daughter appreciates your high standard of ‘I-spy’ work.

Just as I’m sure you appreciate my navigation skill and helpful driving tips.

And on the subject of low-profile people, working quietly behind the scenes to make a much-appreciated contribution – I want to thank all the members of the press gallery.

Your advice is always…available.

Mr Speaker

All of us called to serve in the Labor Caucus are only the tip of the spear.

We stand here as the proud representatives of Australia’s oldest continuous political movement.

Proud of our past but as ever, always looking forward.

We are a great, generous, sprawling, diverse, feuding and loving family.

I am grateful, every day, to every member of every branch of the Labor Party – for their dedication, their energy and their passion.

And I want to acknowledge the extraordinary contribution of our National Secretary George Wright, and our National President Mark Butler – particularly for all their work in preparing our highly successful National Conference.

To my Deputy Leader, the Member for Sydney, Tanya you are a formidable advocate and firm friend – and I thank you for your steadfast support.

To our leadership team in the other place, Penny Wong and Stephen Conroy – thank you for the way you have worked with the cross-bench, through committees and in estimates to stand up for Labor values and to hold the government to account.

To our Shadow Treasurer, the Member for McMahon and to our Shadow Finance Minister, the Member for Watson – thank you for your counsel and your friendship.

In fact, Mr Speaker, I could name the whole Caucus.

All of you can be proud of the year we have had.

A year defined by unity of purpose – and by more positive plans and policies than any Opposition has released in a generation.

All of you own a share of this, and I thank you for everything you have done to make it possible.

Mr Speaker

To make sure my staff are still listening, I have decided to thank them last.

They know, better than anyone, how hard they work and how much their hard work means to me.

Unfortunately I can’t read the rest of their handwriting, so I will leave it there.

Mr Speaker

Predictions and assumptions in politics can be a fraught business.

If you have told me in January, that by December we would have a new speaker, a new Treasurer and a new Prime Minister, I would have been rapt…but I had an election in mind.

There is a long way to go and a lot more to happen in the months ahead of us.

So with that in mind I want to wish the Prime Minister a restful and happy Christmas break with Lucy and the family.

As long as the truffles are up to standard, there’s never been a more exciting time to be Malcolm Turnbull.

I want to extend those well-wishes to all the members of the government, the cross-bench, their families and their staff for a safe and restorative break.

Serving in this place is an honour known to very few.

Regardless of allegiance or ideals, it is this privilege of service that binds us all.

The greatest loyalty we owe is not to ourselves, or to our party - but to the people and the nation we have the honour to represent.

Let us remember this and live up to it – next year and always.

Merry Christmas everyone, and a Happy New Year.

I thank the house.

ENDS

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