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Friday, 25 November 2011
Page: 9716

The PRESIDENT (16:50): At the conclusion of yet another very busy parliamentary year, I take this opportunity on the last sitting day for 2011 to acknowledge and express my gratitude to a number of people. Firstly, I thank the Clerk of the Senate, Rosemary Laing. I would like to once again thank her for the dedication and professionalism she consistently displays. I also express my appreciation to Richard Pye—who, in his first year as Deputy Clerk, has shown the same high standard of professionalism and commitment as his predecessors—and to the other clerks at the table. I thank all other senior officers of the Department of the Senate for their ongoing support and advice and I also thank all senators.

I would like to make special note of the Deputy President and Chair of Committees, Senator Stephen Parry. I wish to acknow­ledge the excellent working relationship we have established since the beginning of the new Senate term—and, Senator Parry, I genuinely mean those words. You have been an absolutely great support to this chamber and to senators in the running of the business of this chamber. I also acknowledge the work of the temporary chairs of committees, who run this chamber on a daily basis.

I wish also to thank the Usher of the Black Rod, Brien Hallett, the Director of Senate Services, John Baczynski, and the staff of the Black Rod's office. I make special mention of and thank both Ian and Peter at the transport office, who look after our transport needs so efficiently. I also express my appreciation to the COMCAR drivers, who are always pleasant and helpful, no matter what hour they drive us home. The chamber support staff, and in particular the chamber attendants here, do a marvellous job for all of us, as do the mail attendants. The Senate IT staff have assisted me and others on more than one occasion in getting the technology we are provided with to work. I thank the staff of the Clerk's office, the Table Office, the Procedure Office and the Committee Office—their hard work and dedication to this great institution and their patience and forbearance ensure that this place runs smoothly.

I also extend my appreciation to the staff of the Department of Parliamentary Services, most of whom work in the background providing the essential services which enable the parliament to function—maintaining the building and the parliamentary precinct and keeping us all safe. In particular, I thank the grounds staff and gardeners who, in looking after the courtyards and gardens, make Parliament House itself such a showpiece for the nation. In addition, there are those who work in security and protective services for the Parliament House itself. There are also the Health and Recreation Centre staff—for those who know where the Health and Recreation Centre is. I noticed that there were a few chuckles there. I presume those chuckles came from the people who do not know where it is.

I thank HRG, who make the travel arrangements, sometimes under great pressure, for all senators and staff. I thank the cleaners who keep this place so immaculately clean and tidy; IHG, who provide the primary catering services to all building occupants and visitors; the Parliamentary Library and the Research Branch under the direction of the Parlia­mentary Librarian, Roxanne Missingham; the International and Community Relations Office for their outstanding work with outgoing and incoming delegations and in managing our interparliamentary relations and interparliamentary assistance program; the Parliamentary Education Office, who, here in Parliament House in 2011, taught over 90,000 young Australians from 1,619 schools about our parliament.

I would especially like to thank the former Speaker of the House of Representatives and his staff as well as the Clerk and officers of the Department of the House of Represen­tatives. I welcome the election of the new Speaker, Peter Slipper, and the new Deputy Speaker, Anna Burke, and look forward to working with them. I must also give special mention to the staff of my office as well as my electorate staff in Queensland and I express my thanks to all other people who work in Parliament House and in electorate offices right around Australia.

As you can see, there is an absolutely extensive list of people that we owe our gratitude to, that we owe our thanks to, for the smooth running and operation of this parliament—and it is so often lost, unfortunately. In conclusion, I extend my best wishes to all colleagues and staff for the upcoming festive season and I look forward to seeing everyone back here in a refreshed manner in the new year.