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Wednesday, 23 November 2011
Page: 13601

Mr BRUCE SCOTT (MaranoaSecond Deputy Speaker) (13:45): We all come to this place as representatives of a constituency around Australia. We are so often the public face of our electorates in this place and also in many parts of Australia. The media spotlight is on us but, I have to say, we are only ever as good as the people we surround ourselves with, including our own staff.

Today I want to pay a personal tribute to a former staffer of mine who passed away on Sunday. Melissa McKerihan joined my staff when John Howard was elected Prime Minister. She was my media adviser during the very early days when I was the Minister for Veterans' Affairs. She was always dealing with issues from the veterans community, from members on both sides of the House and from around Australia. She was a very calm person, a wonderful person and a wonderful staffer to have.

I know that sometimes in this place we do not always record our gratitude for the wonderful staff that we have and for the people that we have behind us. Melissa was one of those people that I had behind me for so long. She had a melanoma removed from the back of her leg but, tragically, it caught up with her. Melissa at only 41 leaves a loving husband, David; two children, Hamish and Lucas; and of course her loving father, Daryl.

I say in this place, Melissa, on behalf of all the staffers—I have received a lot of messages and emails—that we are feeling for your family that you leave behind. Our sympathies go to your family on your tragic passing so early in life.