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Thursday, 27 June 2002
Page: 2913

Senator BOURNE (7:38 PM) —Let me start by thanking my colleagues and in particular thanking them for their forbearance. Every one of them wanted to be on the speakers list for this valedictory and I am afraid that today I have fallen down a bit in my job as Whip. Only Senator Stott Despoja, as leader, and Senator Bartlett, who went and put himself on the list of valedictories, actually got up to speak. I know they would have all liked to speak. They all spoke very politely about me last Wednesday night when we had a farewell; I hope they would have done so again tonight. But I thank them very much for their forbearance. I thank them very much also for their good humour and their forbearance in putting up with me for the last 12 years; it cannot have been easy.

In particular I thank Meg Lees, who has put up with me living in the same flat for the last 12 years; so I thank her for that as well. I cannot let this go past without mentioning that she loves cold air and during winter it is a bit of a trial to live with her, but we have lived quite well together—the odd couple, I am afraid—over the last 12 years. I should thank my fellow retiring senators; I should thank everybody for the kind words that have been said about me tonight.

I turn now to my fellow retiring senators. Barney, thank you for that fabulous answer. What an answer! What a pity you were never a minister. Really, what a waste. However, that was not up to me. I look forward to hearing about your great exploits at the bar in Victoria from now on.

Chris Schacht and I travelled to China, to Tibet, to Xinjiang, to some of the most amazing places on earth. The trip to Cambodia was a good one. In fact, I think Chris and I were the two members of the only Western delegation ever to go to the Khmer Rouge compound before it was totally destroyed by ordinary Cambodians who loathed the Khmer Rouge. That was a pretty scary thing to do, particularly in 1991 when we went, and I felt pretty good when we got out of there. I remember we went in and it was a completely dark compound and there was light spilling out of a building. Khieu Samphan was standing there to greet us. I got out of the car and I smelt disinfectant. I thought, `Oh my goodness, what has been going on here?' We sat down and they served us green tea. I waited until Chris had drunk his entire cup and he was still alive, so I drank a bit myself. They were good times. Tibet was particularly interesting, as were Xinjiang, the rest of China and, of course, Cambodia.

I also travelled to Cambodia with Rosemary—this sounds a bit like a travelogue now, doesn't it? I should not do that. We had a really good time on that trip and I am very pleased to have done that. I have been on a couple of committees with Rosemary, and I have really enjoyed being on them with you. Thank you.

I have been to East Timor with Brenda, and that was fun. I remember you standing outside that helicopter saying, `Now, let me get this straight. If there is an emergency, I am sitting on this piece here which is outside the helicopter; is that correct?' And they were saying, `Yes, ma'am; that is correct.' And you said, `You want me to get on the helicopter now; is that correct?' They responded, `Yes, ma'am; that is correct.' And you did. You got on the helicopter and we all went down to Suwai.

Senator Gibbs —I sat next to the man with the big gun; do you remember?

Senator BOURNE —Oh yes, the man with the big gun. He was very comforting. That was fun and I am really pleased to have done that with you.

Sue West has been a colleague of mine from New South Wales. She was in fact the third woman to represent New South Wales ever in this federal parliament. I know that because I was the next. I was in fact the third woman to be elected by the people of New South Wales; she came to fill a casual vacancy. Considering how long the two of us have been in here, that is a pretty damning indictment of the people of New South Wales. Although—thank heavens!—they saw the light and elected both of us; so things improved.

I would like to mention Jim McKiernan. I see that Jim has been joined by a very important future senator who is obviously enjoying herself—I am not quite sure. Jim, I have worked on the migration committee with you. We did not always agree—in fact, I do not think we agreed at all on the migration committee—but I have worked on other committees with you where we have agreed. I have really enjoyed doing things with you, particularly at the Irish Embassy. I think it was your idea that the Irish Ambassador come up with a bottle of Jamesons every Christmas for all the Australia-Ireland Friendship Group. What a brilliant idea; that was one of your best ideas.

Senator McKiernan —Next year is going to be the most expensive.

Senator BOURNE —Winston, we came in together in 1990. I think you had a plan at the time to help greenhouse gases by cutting down all of the trees in Western Australia or something similar. I am not sure that it would have worked; however, I know that it was a brilliant plan. Possibly you could try it out on a couple of little places and see how it works; it might improve things. Good luck to you and to Thea. I know that life is going to be so much easier for you without that travel. I cannot believe you did that. Sydney to Canberra is bad enough—those 5.30 a.m. starts—and it is only a couple of hours. I am sure your life will be hugely improved when you are out of this place.

I really would like to thank everybody whom I have dealt with in and around this place, in particular, and in the departments that we all deal with, and I have dealt with over many years now. It is a very long list. In fact it is a list as long as that communications directory that Senator Cooney tabled. I am really pleased that he did that as I would like to thank all of those people as well. But I will mention a couple. Madam President, I have travelled with you as well. I count you and Tom as good friends. Whatever you do in the future, and I hope it is continuing as the President, I wish you and Tom well. It has been a privilege to know you. You do have the respect of this chamber and you certainly have the respect of the Democrats. You have probably been the best President that I have served with.

I have to thank my fellow whips: Paul Calvert, Sue Mackay and everybody who comes to the whips meetings. Margot generally comes for Senator Harradine and she is always fun at those meetings. We get on very well together. I have really enjoyed being a whip. It was the one thing that I really wanted to do in this parliament. I am so pleased and feel so privileged to have done it for the last 11 years. If, as Senator Bartlett says, somebody thinks it is a worthless job then I point out that that is total, utter rubbish. It is one of the most worthwhile jobs that anybody can do in here. I have enjoyed it so hugely.

I thank the clerks, Harry and Anne in particular, because I have known the two of you longer than anyone else. Thank you very much for everything you have done for me. You have both been so wonderful. Every time I pick up the phone and say, `What the hell am I going to do next?' you tell me. It has been wonderful. I do not know what I would have done without you.

My thanks also go to the parliamentary liaison officers over the years. Myra Croke is the current Parliamentary Liaison Officer and she is wonderful. The other two I should mention are George Thompson and Rob Jones. Both of them I consider to be friends. Rob, unfortunately, has left us but George is still around, which is excellent. I thank all the library staff, particularly Rob Lundie who has been with the parliamentary Amnesty International group for I do not know how long—nearly as long as me and that is a long time. He still does an awful lot of work, so much hard work.

I thank the committee secretariats—the JSCFADT and Margaret Swieringa in particular. I shared a room with Margaret in Bougainville. That trip to Bougainville was very difficult. I know that there was a plan to get us out, in case anything horrible happened to any of us. I was very grateful for that. I did not actually feel that anything horrible was going to happen to any of us and particularly not to me. Although Margaret pointed out to me at one point when we were walking through a derelict building that there were an awful lot of vines covering the ground that the PNGDF soldier in front of us kept tripping over. He had a gun over his shoulder that looked like it might have gone off at any second had he fallen over. That was the only time I felt even slightly nervous about being in Bougainville.

I thank all those in Hansard and SAVO. They have always been so good to me. There was one occasion where I discovered that I had given a wrong figure by a factor of 10, 100, 1,000 or something like that and they very kindly changed it back for me. I thank all of the chamber attendants that I have dealt with. They have all been so kind and pleasant to me. I thank all of the attendants in the building, including the security, catering, and transport staff. My thanks go to Lizzie the hairdresser and the staff at the bank— Judy and Rhonda, in particular. I thank the staff at Aussies. It is very pleasant to go to Aussies now, probably even more pleasant than it used to be. I thank those Qantas staff who were here in the building. They were always very kind to me.

I thank the Sydney DOFA staff: Bruce, Brian, Stuart, Chen, Chris and particularly Joy. I particularly want to mention Joy whom I have known for many years and knew long before I became a senator. She has had a very hard time of it, and if there is anybody who does not deserve to have a hard time, it is Joy. I thank the Comcar drivers. They are always courteous and friendly and are fabulous drivers. They are much better drivers than I am not just because they have been well trained but because they have the right mindset, which is what they keep telling me. Sometimes when I am driving along and feel like snapping into road rage mode, I think, no, go into Comcar driver mode and it will be fine. I just let people go past me and I do not worry about the idiot who just cut me off. So I would like to thank them for that advice.

I thank my staff over the years. Nada Vlatko and Andrew Larcos started with me in 1990 and are still two of my closest friends. I thank them for all the work that they did to make me look good in this place and also for their friendships. I thank my staff: Fay, Carrie, Hazel and Richard, and, more recently, Gaby Russell, Joanne Yates, Cameron Andrews and David Sutton. Heaven knows, David knows more about digital broadcasting than anybody else I think in the country. He sure made me look good, I hope. If I did look good it was due to him and I thank him for that. I thank Brenda Padgett who has been with me for quite a while now. Of course, I thank Jene Fletcher. I have been working with Jene for longer than I have been a senator. We have been working in the same office for 11 years. Jene organised last week's farewell which was one of the most wonderful evenings I have had in my entire life. She makes me look good as whip all the time. I cannot thank any of them enough.

I thank my family: my mum; my sisters, Debbie and Suzanne; my brother, Peter; my brother-in-law, Ben; and my nephew, Scott. I particularly thank Walter Pearson who probably is my best adviser. He is sitting in the advisers' bench tonight, which is very appropriate. He keeps me sane, thank goodness. Somebody has to do it.

Probably, most important of all, I should thank the Democrat members. Members of the party have put me here. I am well aware of it and I know that I would never have been elected the first time or the second time without them. I know how hard they tried to get me elected the third time and I thank them so much for that. Every time I rang up one or two of them and said, `Can you come in here and help me?' they did. They were always cheerful and pleasant and lovely to deal with.

I have had two passions while I have been here and I thank everybody for their comments and their compliments on them. The first, of course, is human rights. The second is the national broadcasters. East Timor has been a passion for a very long time. I would particularly like to thank Senator Payne for making me the inaugural chair of the Australia-East Timor Parliamentary Friendship Group, which I appreciate hugely. It is a great honour and I really appreciate it. We were together in East Timor on many occasions. We shared a room and I will not tell any stories about that because I have two minutes remaining and I have much more to say, but thank you. Tibet has been another passion of mine, as people know, as have Bougainville and Burma.

On the ABC, I would like to give the minister a little bit of the gratuitous advice that I probably give him once a week: fund them properly; they desperately need more funds. They have to be able to maintain their independence, to inform and to educate all Australians, and they can only do that if you give them another $200 million a year. I am looking forward to that. It is quite ironic and, I think, absolutely appropriate that the first thing I am going to do on Monday, 1 July— when I am no longer a senator—is accompany my partner, Walter, who has been invited to the opening of the new ABC transmitter in Gosford. He is able to bring somebody with him, so he is bringing me. I think that is just wonderful. I am looking forward to that—what a way to start your new life. Excellent! SBS really need only another $18.6 million to properly fund the production of World News on their second channel. That is so much less than $200 million. Think about it.

Finally, I am so proud to have served in this Senate. This place we are in is responsible for the transparency and the accountability that comes out of this parliament. There is huge camaraderie across the chamber amongst all of us. Why on earth would anybody in their right mind want to go to the Reps? Nobody in their right mind would want to do that. I would like to thank all of my Senate colleagues from all sides, including everybody I have served with on committees and, particularly, all my colleagues in the Democrats. I would like to thank my staff for putting up with me. I would like to thank the people of New South Wales for letting me represent them for 12 years. It is a privilege to be here that comes to very few people, and I have been so honoured to have been the recipient of that privilege.

Honourable senators—Hear, hear!