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Monday, 21 June 2004
Page: 30994

Mr MOSSFIELD (8:57 PM) —I will tend to some unfinished business first. I was telling the House earlier today about the Australian blind cricket team touring England for the first time ever in August this year to play for the Ashes. They need help financially for the trip. Trivia nights, raffles and footy-tipping competitions will only get them so far. The Prime Minister calls himself a cricket tragic. Well, Mr Prime Minister, this Australian cricket team needs your help. They need the support of the federal government to travel to England to beat the Poms and then to South Africa to beat the Springboks. I call on the federal government to help fund this historic trip for these elite sportsmen who have been chosen to represent our nation in cricket.

On another issue: as I will be retiring at the end of this term of parliament, I would like to take this opportunity to express my appreciation to the electors of Greenway, who gave me the honour of representing them in the federal parliament over the past eight years. Chief amongst these electors is my wife, who has been my companion for over 44 years and has been a great source of support, particularly during my professional career as a trade union official for some 27 years and now during my parliamentary career. Jan's support and assistance has been invaluable. I would also like to mention a number of other people who have assisted me. The first would be Jack Miller, the current president of the Blacktown branch of the ALP, who worked hard to ensure I won my preselection and has since been a constant supporter. I would also mention Michael Sommerton, Paul Gannon and Rebel Hanlon, who were my campaign directors at various elections.

ALP candidates rely very heavily on volunteers at election time to staff polling booths, letterbox pamphlets and hold shopping centre stalls. It is not possible to mention all the people who have helped out at election time, but I would like to mention Margaret Koczberski, a member of the Lalor Park branch, who sadly passed away a month ago. Margaret was a good example of the unselfish branch members who work for the party without seeking any personal gain. Margaret was always very proud of the displays of posters at her polling booth. Margaret always had a sharp question or comment at branch meetings for us politicians. She also referred to her branch as the `premier branch'. She was a true character and will be missed by all who knew her.

Members of parliament rely on the dedication and skills of their personal staff in representing their constituents. Here I have been very fortunate in having Christine Mesa, who has been with me for the full eight years I have been in parliament; Nicole Duffy; Michelle Facchin; Athol Cairn, whom many I am sure would recall; and Steve Duffy, who is in the House tonight. They have all been extremely loyal and hardworking in looking after the interests of the constituents of Greenway.

One of the interesting appointments that I experienced during my parliamentary career was being appointed to the Speaker's panel in my first term. To say that I was inexperienced in the customs and forms of the parliament would be an understatement. In fact, I did not know what door to enter the chamber when it was my turn to occupy the chair. I remember very clearly sitting in my seat in the parliament, up in this direction somewhere, as the minutes for me to occupy the chair for the first time ticked by and seeing Speaker Halverson and the clerks at the table looking anxiously in my direction, no doubt wondering when I was going to make a move. I may still have been sitting there if the Deputy Speaker at the time, Mr Garry Nehl, had not literally marched up and escorted me to the Speaker's chair.

Opposition members interjecting—

Mr MOSSFIELD —He did. From that point on, over the next eight years, things proceeded fairly smoothly, thanks to the assistance of various clerks and others in this chamber.

I would also like to express my appreciation to a range of people in this parliament—and I certainly will not have time to mention them all—who help make members' lives a little bit easier. To the attendants, the cleaners, the library staff, the Comcar drivers and many others, I simply say, `Thank you'. Finally, through the various House committees and the occasional overseas delegation, I have got to know members on both sides of the parliament extremely well, and this has been a very pleasant part of my period in the parliament. I simply say to all members, particularly members on the other side, good health if not good luck.

The SPEAKER —I am sure the House joins me in wishing the member for Greenway every success.