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Tuesday, 15 March 2005
Page: 99

Senator KNOWLES (7:18 PM) —I rise tonight to join the valedictory comments about JT, as I have affectionately called him since he has been here. I recall speaking on the valedictory for your predecessor, Senator Peter Baume. It is a bit disturbing to think that I have outlasted both of you. When I heard that Senator Tierney was leaving I thought, ‘Why on earth would he be leaving so early?’ And I heard that you had some fantastic, you-beaut job. But I thought, ‘No, it’s got nothing to do with that; he’s just trying to get out of another round of estimates!’ Your cover was blown, but I do realise that you are moving on to bigger and better things.

You came into this place with great credentials, and I think it is fair to say that you will be leaving with even greater credentials. Your contribution in this place has been absolutely outstanding. Apart from making a contribution as a parliamentarian, a policy maker and a decision maker, you have made a contribution as a good bloke. It is a testament to anyone who comes into this place if they can mix the lot. Senator Tierney has certainly been able to do that—he has been a thinker, he has been a doer and he has been a mate to a lot of us. Such attributes make the Senate and the parliament a better place. If we could all leave having achieved that measure of success, we should all be very satisfied.

This is interesting. I have not served on too many committees with Senator Tierney, but one that I did serve on fairly early in the piece was the Senate Select Committee on Community Standards Relevant to the Supply of Services Utilising Electronic Technologies. Some called it the smut committee, I have to say, because it used to look into various issues of pornography, film censorship and things like that. As Senator Hill said this evening, Senator Tierney took a second string to his bow and took on the communications interest. Here was this relatively new chum coming into the community standards committee talking about computerisation and this thing called the information superhighway that was going to come storming down to greet us. I remember Senator Denman and I looking at each other, raising our eyebrows and grimacing, thinking: ‘At least he knows what he’s talking about. I wonder what this superhighway is. What truck is going to come trundling down and run us all over?’ John had really grasped the whole issue of computerisation while we were still using typewriters.

It was a very interesting committee—for a number of reasons, I might add. I did not realise there was so much smut on TV until I would go to the committee meeting the next morning and learn from other colleagues how much smut had been on TV the night before. But I thought John’s contribution was very interesting, from the point of view that he had grasped not only what the information superhighway was going to do to the world but what impact it was likely to have on children and on the issue of pornography. It is very interesting to think that here we are, probably 12, 13 or 14 years on, and Operation Auxin has made the biggest bust of child pornography on the internet that has ever happened in Australia, and this was an issue that Senator Tierney was warning the parliament about all those years ago.

As a fellow departee—you have beaten me to the gun—I have to say to Senator Tierney and to Pam that you have been a great political team over many years. The contribution that you have made to the party, to many marginal seat campaigns and to policy outcomes does not come about by sitting around and watching. As I said, you have been a thinker and a doer, and I acknowledge the work that you have done not only in the parliament but also in the organisation. Your motto has always been ‘press on and never give up’, and you have certainly lived by that motto.

You have been faced with what some would consider a disability but, having played tennis with and against John Tierney, I have to say that he has no disability, believe me! When you play with him he makes you do all the running; when you play against him he makes you do all the running. I think it is a very interesting sideline, and he is a very good tennis player, despite what some would call a disability. I have never looked at you, Senator Tierney, as someone who has a disability. Thanks for the friendship and thanks for the contribution to the Australian parliament. For and on behalf of the people of New South Wales, good luck to both you and Pam. I hope to see you on a continuing basis in the future.