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Wednesday, 15 June 2011
Page: 2925

Senator EGGLESTON (Western Australia) (18:37): I would like to make some brief remarks also about my departing colleagues, firstly, about Judith Troeth. Judith has made an outstanding contribution to the Senate in her time in many ways, including, as Senator Nash has just said, in her role as a parliamentary secretary responsible for the interests of the rural sector. She was greatly respected for her very firm views about issues and about how things should be done and carried out that job with a great deal of success. She was widely admired for it.

The fact that Judith Troeth was a person who held to her convictions has been mentioned already by a number of speakers. It is not always easy in this place to do this. It sometimes takes great courage and forbearance to adhere to your convictions, sometimes in the face of disagreement from members of your own party. But Judith has shown that courage and forbearance and she has thereby earned the respect of all members of the Senate for having done so.

On a lighter note, Judith and I have shared an enjoyment of films and, after breaks from the Senate, have shared with each other our views on the various films we saw during that break. While we did not always agree on the value, the quality and the worthwhileness of the films we saw, at other times we certainly tipped each other off on some very enjoyable and entertaining films. I thank you very much, Judith, for your interest in films. You will be sadly missed in this place.

I turn now to Guy Barnett. Guy, in his period in the Senate, has made a great contribution in two particular areas, which I will mention. Firstly, Guy was renowned as a driver of the need for increased recognition of the problems faced by those who have diabetes. He has made an outstanding contribution to the cause of more research and a greater understanding of the pathology of diabetes and the treatment of it and has taken this concern about diabetes into the public arena. The Australian community, Guy, owes you a great debt for what you have done in promoting the understanding of diabetes and the need for there to be better treatment facilities, particularly for children. Children find diabetes very difficult to cope with, particularly small children who have type 1 diabetes and who have to inject themselves, as we heard only yesterday at the event which was held in the Mural Hall. I thank you for what you have done in that area.

Another issue for which Guy Barnett earned my great respect was his opposition to the Victorian legislation permitting mid-term abortions for babies with even the most minor congenital abnormalities, as was detailed in evidence provided a few years ago to a Senate committee inquiry into the provision of Medicare rebates for these procedures.

Sadly, the impression left by the evidence given at that inquiry was that Australia, at least Victoria, was moving down a pathway where eugenics were becoming a consider¬≠ation as to whether or not a baby should be allowed to live. The comparisons which some people drew between the implications of the Victorian mid-term abortion legislation and its practice and the notorious T4 Program, which existed in Hitler's Germany, was not in my opinion misplaced. The theme in both cases was the same, that only perfect human beings should be allowed to live. As a person who quite obviously has a short-limb condition which would, under Victorian legislation, be an unequivocal ground for termination of a pregnancy—as was stated by the then President of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists at those hearings—but who, like many others with congenital conditions, has lived a successful life and had a successful career, I very greatly respect Guy Barnett for his moral courage in taking a stand against what I regard as pernicious Victorian legislation, which so devalues human life and the potential of human beings to not let themselves be disadvantaged by not being physically perfect.

Lastly, I would like to turn to my esteemed colleague Russell Trood. As has been said by many others, Russell Trood is a universally respected figure in the Senate, both for his innate dignity and his great knowledge of international affairs. International affairs is a matter which I too have a great interest in, and in fact I hold a degree from Murdoch University which focused on East Asian politics and Australia's role in the region. I have to say that I have always greatly respected Russell's understanding of the importance of Australia's need to engage with the nations in our region as being the key to the long-term future of Australia and its role in this part of the world.

All three senators have been great colleagues and have made great and substantial contributions to the Senate and I wish all three of them all the best for their future endeavours. I am sure that all will continue to contribute to public affairs and leave their marks in whatever they do in the future.