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Wednesday, 15 June 2011
Page: 2923

Senator NASH (New South WalesDeputy Leader of The Nationals in the Senate) (18:31): I want to echo the remarks that have been made this evening about the three departing colleagues, whom we are going to miss. I also echo Senator Macdonald in saying that the brevity of my remarks in no way reflects on the expansive comments I would like to make, but I am very conscious that there are many colleagues who still want to make a contribution. Certainly, Senator Barnett, I have always been incredibly impressed by your dedication and your tenacity regarding the issues that are important to you. I think that is a view that, as we have seen tonight, has been held by many of us for a very long time, and I wish you all the very best.

To Senator Trood, with whom I have had most interesting conversations and who has tried to sculpt my path into foreign affairs, with some success, It has been a delight to work with you and I must echo Senator Joyce's comments about your word craft. There is no doubt that to me, as a student of English and a grammar pedant, you are an artist who paints with the English word. It is a trait that is not always found in this place and one that has been very well recognised. All the best to you too.

I want to make some comments about my very good friend and colleague Senator Troeth. In this place it is not often you hear the words 'poise' and 'steely' used in relation to the same person. There are not too many women in the National Party room—we have peaked at three so far and at the moment it is just me. It has been a real joy to have a woman in the Senate on this side of parliament to whom I have been able to look for advice and support. She has given me that support and advice with great grace as necessary.

Senator Troeth probably does not remember but I actually met her around 10 years ago when I was a staffer for the Hon. Larry Anthony. Very briefly, he had an issue he was trying to change the then parliamentary secretary's mind about so off we went to see the parliamentary secretary. We came out a very short time later and I thought, 'Minister: one; Larry Anthony: nil'. There was no way in the world that Larry Anthony was going to change Senator Troeth's mind, and I was very impressed by the way this woman who I had not met before handled that meeting.

When Senator Troeth was chairing the Education, Employment and Workplace Relations Committee and we were doing the legislation for Work Choices, all I can say is that I truly came to understand the phrase, 'Brook no argument'. As the chair of the committee it was an extraordinary time. Senator Troeth did a job steering that committee through that period that I think no other senator could have done.

There was a time in this chamber when Senator Troeth gave a speech on her view of the emissions trading scheme. I do not think I have heard a better speech given in this place than the speech that Senator Troeth gave that day. I completely disagreed with what she was saying, but that speech was so well crafted and so brilliantly given that for a moment there I almost found myself agreeing with her—but I pulled myself back from the brink and thought, 'No, don't go to the side of the darkness.' I just wanted to commend her on that. In spite of the fact that I did not agree with what she was saying, it was a most extraordinary speech and one of the best speeches that had been given in this place for quite some time.

There has been some commentary made about what we did with Senator Moore and Senator Allison with respect to the administrative changes to RU486. I have to say, Senator Troeth, that, when asked, you did not flinch in giving advice about, and support and strength to, that particular piece of legislation. Regardless of the fact that there were very different views about that piece of legislation—it was indeed a very torrid time—there are two things that occur to me about that whole process, neither of which are related to the issue itself. One is the ability for women from all parties to come together and work on a common issue, which to my knowledge had not happened before that time, and it will probably be some time until we see it again. That was something that I will always value. The other was associated with that but, again, is not to do with the issue. We all in this place work hard and hope to be appreciated, and we hope that what we do is appreciated by the community out there. We walked out of this chamber after the successful conclusion to the legislation and Senator Troeth's son was walking towards her. He just looked at her and said, 'Mum!' and gave her a big hug. The reason I say that is that there is probably no greater accolade in this place than our children being proud of us for what we do, and I think that was a most extraordinary moment. Senator Troeth, you probably have more strength than any man I know. You probably have more intelligence and more class than any woman I know. There will be a real void in this place when you leave. There will be many senators yet to come but, no matter how many come, I suspect that void will never quite be filled.