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Wednesday, 21 October 2015
Page: 11957

Ms PLIBERSEK (SydneyDeputy Leader of the Opposition) (11:53): Previous speakers today have covered—and no doubt subsequent speakers will cover—in some detail the member for North Sydney's many achievements as a minister, but I want to speak about a different Joe Hockey today. I want to speak about Joe Hockey the friend. If you look up in the gallery today and you look at his family here, you will know that Joe is a man who is able to form relationships and—what is really difficult in politics—keep them. It is wonderful to see that so many of Joe's old friends have made the effort to come today to be with him on this very important occasion.

I have never shared a couch or a paddle-pop or quality TV with Joe, but I do think of myself as a friend of Joe's. In the lead-up to the 2001 and 2004 elections, in particular, Joe and I used to spend quite a bit of time together on the Steve Chase program, doing our weekly radio spot. I got to know Joe pretty well during that time, and one of the things that struck me in particular was that, despite people saying that North Sydney was a safe Liberal seat, Joe never took it for granted. That takes me to Joe Hockey the local member. As I used to travel up to Steve's studio there, I would see a million signs on the telegraph poles and I would see parked vehicles all along the highway with big 'Joe Hockey' signs. I used to say to him, 'Joe, it's a safe Liberal seat; what are you doing?' He said, 'No seat is safe.' I really admired that about him at the time too.

It is interesting, going back through my files, to find a Focus North newsletter that Joe, as local member, put out to his constituents in North Sydney. This brings me to Joe the minister, because, even in April 1998, Joe was writing about reforming our tax system. Not quite every idea in this newsletter has been taken up by the Abbott or Turnbull governments, although I do see the opening paragraph says, 'It's important to have a system that has an incentive to work and an incentive for responsible saving.' Joe also says in this newsletter—this is perhaps a little piece of advice that he did take throughout his ministerial career: 'The art of taxation consists in so plucking the goose as to obtain the largest amount of feathers with the least possible amount of hissing,' a terrific quote from Jean-Baptiste Colbert, 1665.

As well as Joe the friend, Joe the local member and Joe the Treasurer, I want to tell you a little bit about Joe Hockey the feminist. When I was Minister for the Status of Women, I saw the work that Joe Hockey and then Robert McClelland, our Attorney-General, did as the parliamentary convenors of the White Ribbon Foundation. Even after the devastation of the 2007 election loss—I say 'devastation' for Joe, not so much for us; we were pretty happy—Joe turned up to the comedy debate that the White Ribbon Foundation put on. In 2008 he and Robert McClelland hosted a parliamentary function where they released a report, with Andrew O'Keefe, about the effect of domestic violence. I think the report was particularly focusing on teenagers. Throughout his parliamentary career, there has never been a question or a suggestion ever that Joe was anything other than the most enthusiastic advocate for gender equality. I have to at this stage say: Melissa, no doubt that has been a great deal influenced by you and by not just your professional achievements but, as Joe has described, the work that you have done to hold your family together during his long absences and his hard work.

As well as Joe the feminist, we have Joe the dad. It is wonderful to see Xavier, Adelaide and Iggy here today. I am sure the speeches are getting a little bit long and boring for you kids, but, if you are able to remember this day, I hope you remember it as the day that people on both sides of this parliament acknowledged the fine work of your father and the commitment he has made to our country, and I hope you also see it as the day that you got your dad back.

I want to finish with just a comment about another defining feature of the Joe Hockey that we know, on both sides of this chamber. Joe has always been so proud of the contribution his parents have made to our country. He has been particularly proud that his father, born of Armenian background in Bethlehem, was able to come to this country and contribute so fully and so generously. Australia is a country of migrants. It is the classic migrant story—to leave behind everything that is familiar and to come here with little language, no money in your pocket, only the suitcase you carry, and to be allowed, in our great democracy, to work hard, to struggle, to achieve, to enjoy that success and to see your son go on to serve in the Parliament of Australia. It is a wonderful tribute to you as a family, but it is also a great expression about what is best in our nation. Joe, you are a many-faceted man, and I have covered just a few facets today. No doubt your colleagues will want to cover much more of your professional achievements. What we look forward to is seeing your future. We hope that the next phase of Joe Hockey is the phase that gives all of us still here hope that there is life after politics.