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Wednesday, 21 October 2015
Page: 11953


Mr TURNBULL (WentworthPrime Minister) (11:29): This is a big day in the life of a big man. One of the giants of the parliament is taking his leave and all of us rose together and applauded him because we admire you, Joe. We love you. You have made an enormous contribution over nearly 20 years. You have held high office for almost every moment you have sat in this chamber and you have executed every office you have had, discharged every office you have had, with great passion, with imagination and with great compassion. As everyone who knows you knows, and most Australians do know you, you have a very, very big heart.

We have been friends for a long time. I remember those days before your three beautiful children came along. With kids, you have to understand the sacrifices your dad has made for you. One of them, after Xavier arrived, was I could not get you to be the forward hand in the sailing races anymore. It was a great loss. You are a very good able seaman first class, Joe, and perhaps when the children grow up you can rise further up in the nautical hierarchy.

We also have another thing in common. We have often remarked to each other that on the day on which each of us wed, we were batting way, way above our weight. You referred to a very wise remark of Tony Abbott's, when he said that all of us in this place are volunteers, that it is our family that are conscripts. The support and the love that you have had from Melissa and your children has been admired by everybody that knows you. All of us know we stand here in this parliament supported by our families. And you have discharged very high office, very controversial offices, offices where you have had to take tough decisions which were inevitably not popular, and that is very hard for the families. The spouse in particular, the children in particular, of a politician feel those cuts harder than the politician ever can. The politician can jump up and give a speech in parliament, get on the radio, denounce his or her detractors, state their case. The family just feels it, and we should all recognise that.

Joe, this is a celebration and a recognition of your life in parliament. But it is also a celebration of the great love of you and Melissa and your children and your family. What an amazing family story of yours. Your father Richard came to Australia as a young man, a young Armenian man, born in Jerusalem. He came to Australia and—

Mr Brough: Bethlehem.

Mr TURNBULL: Born in Bethlehem. Yes, I correct it. He grew up in Jerusalem—you told me that once—and came to Australia and started a small business, and prospered with his family. Your story is a classic Australian story of migration, of enterprise, of family, of small business and, above all, of love—of love from all of your family—and of support, the kind of enterprise that has made this country what it is today. Without wanting to be political, it is a story that is at the very heart of the small-business enterprise values of the great party of which we are both members.

So, Joe, we salute you. We thank you. We admire you. You have done Australia proud. You will, I am sure, do great things for Australia in the future. You are a sunny optimist at heart. You are not afraid to speak hard truths and you have spoken a few today, and I am sure you will speak them in the future. You have always been utterly candid. When I was Leader of the Opposition and you were, for much of that time, the shadow Treasurer, you were always utterly frank and forthright to me. There is no loyalty, no decency, in telling people, particularly leaders, only what they want to hear. Frankness, honesty, insight into the real situation and being able to convey that to your leader—that is the mark of real loyalty. You have always had the courage of your convictions and the preparedness to say to those in power, those with greater power than yourself, exactly what you think, what you believe and why you think a particular course is right or wrong.

So, Joe, farewell from the House of Representatives, not farewell from public service. Whatever you do, whatever your course of life takes, I know that in your heart, together with the love of your family, who are here assembled, will be your love for Australia. You have a big heart, a big Australian heart full of love for a great nation. Thank you, Joe Hockey.