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Wednesday, 22 June 2011
Page: 3620


Senator FEENEY (VictoriaParliamentary Secretary for Defence) (19:14): The incorporated speech read as follows—

I rise tonight to farewell two fine Senators and good friends, Senator Steve Hutchins and Senator Annette Hurley.

"Hutcho", as he will always be known, is a Lion of Labor. As his speech tonight typified, he is a man who is fearless, outspoken, compassionate, and imbued with the values and traditions of the ALP and the Labor movement.

I first met Hutcho in 1994, when I joined the Transport Workers' Union of Australia as a Federal Industrial Officer. It was a mighty opportunity for me, and I am ever grateful for it. Although I was a federal official of the union, and Hutcho was the NSW secretary, there was no doubt that Hutcho was the political and industrial 'force of nature' that led us. My immediate boss, Federal Secretary John Allan, was proud to be a friend and confidant of Steve Hutchins.

In those days Hutcho was a deity. Junior minions like I approached him with awe, and the opportunity to have a beer with him was like Christmas.

The 15% wages campaign of 1994-1995 was a tour de force, and certainly one of Hutcho's great achievements as a Union leader. Hutcho's contribution to the union echoes loudly in the TWU today—he forever remains the patriarch of the TWU family. Its single minded and united character, and the TWUs transformation from being many fractious State and Territory tribes into a single national voice for its members was Hutcho's project.

Although Senator Hutchins is well known as an outspoken voice within the ALP, he receives too little recognition for his other formidable skills; an unerring instinct for the hopes and aspirations of Labor supporters, a formidable nego¬≠tiator, a persuasive lobbyist and someone who shapes the political environment profoundly—even if often invisibly.

There have been a few occasions when I have defied Hutcho's advice. I've had cause to regret them. His political judgement has often survived the test of time better than mine.

I know that Steve Hutchins married well. His wife, Natalie Sykes, is a long-time friend of mine, from Young Labor days. In obliging Hutcho to move to Melbourne, she has done our great State a service. As a Victorian, you will all observe in upcoming months how Hutcho has become smarter, stronger and better looking.

The parliament is a big place, home to some 3,500 people during sitting weeks. Yet, as we all know, not withstanding that, it can be a lonely place. Today I lose a mate, and this place will now be a little more lonely for me.

Senator Annette Hurley is a former Party Official in SA, as well as a former Party president and member of the National Executive. I have always regarded former Party officials as being a higher calibre of political animal; people who are steeped in the values and traditions of their party, people of organisational skill motivated by political conviction; people for whom the words loyalty and discipline still matter a great deal.

It will always be a remarkable act of sacrifice and courage that as the Deputy Leader of the Parliamentary Labor Party in SA, Annette Hurley chose to run as the ALP Candidate in Light. Rather than run in a seat where the ALP vote was weighed, rather than counted, Annette put her career on the line in her resolve to win government.

It was that same resolve that led to me receiving a phone call from Annette Hurley in early 2005 asking me if I was willing to serve as the ALP Campaign Director in SA for 2005-2006. After having been assisted in exiting my position as ALP Campaign Director in Victoria in December 2002 by Kim Carr and other gentle souls, I was thrilled to re-join the campaign trail. My time in SA was a joy and a privilege, and I know very well that the Party in SA is strong and vibrant. Your share in that success, Senator Hurley, should fill you with great pride.

I wish you and your husband Bob Korbell all the very best for the future.