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Wednesday, 26 June 2013
Page: 4200


Senator McKENZIE (Victoria) (19:27): I thank colleagues for the opportunity to make some brief comments about my Leader in the Senate, Barnaby Joyce. The first time I heard about Barnaby Joyce was when I read a page review article about small business on a plane. I did not really know the name, but I liked what I read, because he articulated so beautifully for me the reality of living and growing up in small business. That gift of articulation we have heard of from several contributors tonight. I watched from afar with fascination the construction and the selling of the Birdsville amendment and the changes to section 46 of the then named Trade Practices Act as he championed the needs of those mums and dads who strike out on their own to succeed or fail by their own means. It was a message that really resonated with me and right across regional Australia, the home of small business.

Another memory, as I am thinking of today, is a magazine that I kept from 2006 from the AustralianFinancial Review. It was a magazine that discussed power, and it had the top 10 covert power holders in our nation and the top 10 overt power holders. In this book, Robert Manne, bemoaning that business was not stepping up to the plate, identified Barnaby Joyce, after just three years in the Senate, as wielding overt power in the Australian democracy, with Joyce seeing Downer off in a tie-break for the top 10 holders of overt power, reminding government that they were not omnipotent. I think, in that quote, that Barnaby's role here, in reminding government over time that they are not omnipotent, has actually made Barnaby the encapsulation of the Senate itself. As a check against government power concentration, against power concentration in markets and against power concentration right across our society, Barnaby has stood up for those who are unable to stand up for themselves. In that he has been a champion for others in this place.

In the context that Barnaby entered the Senate, the opportunities to pursue agendas were aplenty, and he did. He did not just pursue those agendas for selfish reasons, they were always for the right reasons. They were always on behalf of the people of Queensland, on behalf of the Nationals and on behalf of the nation. Barnaby, I want to thank you. I want to thank you on behalf of Victoria. Thank you for Jeanette Powell's win in Shepparton. Thank you for telling the Tongala dairy farmers how it is. Thank you for working towards restoring faith in parliamentarians because, as anyone who knows him knows, he has no artifice. It is very rare and precious in this game, and we recognise it when we see it, and we covet it. Australians have been mesmerised by your courage to walk the walk, and it is the least that any of us can do. Barnaby, I thank you for your leadership and for living the principles we celebrate every day in this place. I am proud of our National Party Senate team for giving each of us the freedom to be self-determined senators and, as a result, you have had a very cohesive and cooperative team behind you all the way.

All the best, and do not drink the Kool-Aid over there. The Senate and the senators do contribute. I know you will be a strong advocate, if successful, for New Englanders, in continuing the strong contribution and advocacy of the Nationals and driving us forward as a party. What is missing over there, which I am sure you will be able to ensure occurs, is a strong advocate for the Senate and its role. Go well.