Bill's Transcripts











Thank you, Mr Speaker.


This is no ordinary day, and you are no ordinary Joe.


It is an unusual day.


People leave this place and some remark that it's actually easier to get here than to leave.


But it isn't always easy to leave at your timing, and with the mutual respect of the people who serve here.


The standing ovation, spontaneous from your colleagues and the Opposition, should be one of the memories you cherish. Because you can't get that by just turning up.


You can't get that sort of respect. Respect can't be given by a position or a title, it can't be given by longevity alone. There's something else involved in achieving that.


It may surprise you that many of my colleagues want to say a few words about you - good words.


They want to wish you and your family well.


I think it's a great reflection on your friends who are here that so many of them have come here to hear you say goodbye.


But I think it's an even greater credit to you that you could inspire them to be here.


It is fitting that you do receive the thanks of this chamber.


19 years, it is a long time.


From backbencher to Treasurer.


Mr Speaker


It was another Treasurer, Peter Costello, who said that you could either spend the first half of your working life here, or the second half of your working life here.


He said you shouldn't spend your whole working life here.


It's something I'm sure that we all reflect upon at a time such as this when a central player, a central character in the Australian parliament’s story and the story of governments and the story of politics bids farewell.


Now I understand that the valedictory and the timing of this isn't necessarily what you would have imagined, perhaps a couple of months ago.


But you should draw solace from the fact that you leave this place with many years ahead of you of contribution.


Again, all of us would hope, perhaps, that we could leave a little bit in the manner which you're leaving today, you've certainly earned it.


You have time on your side, you love this country, you want to serve it and I respect that.


But also as a father, I understand that you’ll have the benefit of more time with your family.


No-one with a family in this place, or a partner, enjoys those Sunday departures from your family to come back here. But our families enjoy it even less.


No-one enjoys cruel and mean things being written about you, but your families have even less capacity to protect themselves against it.


You will be free of some of that.


I'm sure you'll be grateful for the precious time you'll have with your kids and your family.


I'm sure they will be even more grateful.


I'm sure you'll be grateful not to have to explain some of the things which get said and tell your kids not to worry about it.


I'm sure you'll be pleased not to have to deal with the concerns, as your family come back and they have to put up with some of the ill-informed critique and hurtful comments which you so preciously want to protect them from and can’t always.


I thank your family for lending you to this nation.


It's time that they got you back.


There is also a natural temptation, Mr Speaker, at times like this, to minimise the political difference of past battles.


I don't think the member for North Sydney would want us in Labor to pretend that we were uncritical admirers of his actions.


We would disagree often, quite sharply, on issues.


In the case of the 2014 Budget, we disagreed on almost everything.


And on occasion harsh words can be exchanged.


But I have to say, member for North Sydney, you never shied away from a contest.


You would give as good as you got, with the volume indeed turned up.


And given that you have 3 minutes to answer a question and we only have 30 seconds to ask one, you always had longer to give it.


But like the good university rugby player you were, the member for North Sydney would crash into you all day, he'd wear the bumps and bruises, but he could still join you for a laugh, a wry grimace or indeed a beer at the end of the day.


Mr Speaker


The member for North Sydney and I share an admiration of Theodore Roosevelt, and indeed I know he has a fondness for quoting him.


I've previously heard him refer to Roosevelt's famous description of ‘the man in the arena’.


“Whose face is marred by dust, sweat and blood; who strives valiantly, who errs, who comes short again and again; because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds.”


The member for North Sydney has been that man in the arena.


You can leave this place knowing that we all think that you have strived valiantly.


Knowing that he fought in the most unforgiving arena in the land for things that he believed in, that's something you can always be proud of.


No-one can ever take that away from you.


Mr Speaker


In the grand sweep of our national life, serving in this place is a privilege afforded to a very few.


A place on the front bench, rarer still.


And to serve as the Treasurer of the Commonwealth of Australia is an honour that only 39 members of our parliament have ever known.


Joe, as you know, Teddy Roosevelt said:


"Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty."


Teddy went on, he said he:


“never envied a human being who led an easy life.”


Instead, he envied:


“a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well”


Member for North Sydney, I envy the parliamentary life you have lived.


Envy the distinction and decency, with which you have lived your parliamentary life.


On behalf of the Opposition, I wish you and your family well in everything you do from this day forward.