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Thursday, 27 June 2013
Page: 7290

Mr ABBOTT (WarringahLeader of the Opposition) (15:19): On indulgence, on behalf of the coalition I extend our best wishes to the retiring member for Perth. May I say, on behalf of the coalition, that the Labor Party has lost today another significant son. It seems that there is something of a changing of the guard taking place amongst members opposite and I suspect that the Labor Party may be the poorer for it.

As all of us know, in this particular place there are opponents and there are opponents. I can say that the member for Perth has always been an honourable opponent: if he told you something you knew it was true and if you told him something you knew he would not misuse it. Regrettably, that cannot always be said for people in this place.

The heaviest thing this parliament does is commit our armed forces to combat, and there has been much combat in the tenure of the member for Perth as Minister for Defence. The hardest thing for anyone to deal with is casualties and, as the member for Perth has outlined to the House, he has had too many casualties to deal with, he has had too many bitter words, bitter experiences, to break to good people who did not deserve it. It is a very heavy burden to bear and the member for Perth, as minister, has discharged his responsibilities with decency and humanity, and we thank him for it. This parliament in which we serve is a vocation. It is not a career and it is not a job; it is a vocation, and the member for Perth has been an adornment to it.