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Tuesday, 7 February 2017
Page: 60


Senator WONG (South AustraliaLeader of the Opposition in the Senate) (16:31): I rise on behalf of the opposition to acknowledge the passing of former senator Russell Brunell Trood, who passed away last month at the age of 68. At the outset I convey our condolences to his wife Dale, his children James and Phoebe and to all of his relatives and friends. I particularly extend my sympathies to those in this chamber who served with Professor Trood, as I did, and who are feeling this loss personally. I know Senator Brandis mourns the loss of a trusted confidant and one of his closest political friends. I extend my personal condolences to Senator Brandis.

Russell Trood served as a senator for a single six-year term from 2005 to 2011 and, as Senator Brandis has outlined, he was elected from the third place on the Liberal ticket in 2004 and as the last of the six senators from Queensland. His arrival, as the Leader of the Government has outlined, brought to this chamber a majority for the Howard government. It was the first time since 1980 and since the size of the Senate increased in 1984 that this had occurred. I recall that development; it was not a welcome development for those on this side of the chamber. However, we can be grateful that the Senate gained a learned member who had a reputation as a courteous and decent person as part of that change.

Russell Trood entered the Senate, in his own words, as someone who had 'received a good and some might even say excessive university education'. Born in Melbourne in 1948, his studies took him to New South Wales, the United Kingdom and Canada in pursuit of qualifications in law, strategic studies and international politics, including a doctorate. It was appointment to a position as a lecturer at Griffith University, via a stint at the Australian National University, that saw him finally settle in Queensland. I understand that Professor Trood's great grandfather had been a Queensland delegate for the 1891 Constitutional Convention and so, perhaps, this was something of a return. It was with some apparent delight that he told the Senate in his first speech that Queenslanders now outnumbered Victorians in the Liberal party room.

Professor Trood remained at Griffith until his election, advancing understanding of international relations with a particular focus on Asia and the Pacific. He was author, editor or contributor to over half a dozen books and a number of other publications. The focus of his work was international affairs in the Asia-Pacific. From 1990 to 2001 he served as director of the Centre for the Study of Australia-Asia Relations. He was an associate professor of international relations from 1997 to 2004 and a visiting fellow at the Lowy Institute from 2005.

Senator Claire Moore, also a Queenslander, enjoyed a good friendship with Professor Trood. She highlights 'his gifted and acclaimed work as an academic, particularly in international relations, which inspired many researchers and students because he was a great teacher as well as a researcher'. Senator Moore notes that 'he inspired students with a passion for constitutional law and governance, as well as economic relations'.

With this background, it was no surprise that Russell Trood used his first speech to enunciate clear views on foreign policy and Australia's place in the world. He gave an intelligent assessment of Australia's view of the world that was to set the tone for his Senate career, which included service on the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade committees of both the Senate and the parliament; the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties; and the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security, amongst others.

He, in his first speech, remarked on the challenges and opportunities of globalisation, describing it as 'the phenomenon of our times'. He saw that amidst its contradictions, globalisation promoted an interdependent world, 'where countries and communities are increasingly interconnected'. His view was that Australia's response had to be engagement. For as much then as now, it is in our interest to, as he said, 'play an active and constructive role in world affairs'.

Professor Trood also reflected on the importance of education. He said: 'Ideas and education matter, not just for the prosperity they promise but because free and open societies depend on them.'

Professor Trood also acknowledged the role of the Senate as a means of 'ensuring the accountability of the executive arm of government' whilst, in the context of a governing party majority of which he was part, noting that an enduring source of the Senate's political legitimacy is that it is popularly elected.

It was these three elements—foreign policy, education and the institution of the Senate—that were to be dominant themes in Professor Trood's career as a senator. The journalist Matt Price reflected in The Australian that:

Professor Trood entered the Senate at the same time as another more outspoken senator elected from Queensland in 2004.

Senator Brandis has spoken about this. Price described Professor Trood as 'the antithesis to' Senator Joyce, noting that Professor Trood 'embraces globalisation and supports most Coalition policies. He also noted that Professor Trood recognised his role as a senator was not just to represent Queenslanders, but to fulfil 'a national responsibility to govern for all Australians'—a duty all of us should maintain at the forefront of our work.

In his post-political career, Professor Trood returned to work in academia and also for his country. He took up a professorship in international relations at Griffith University in addition to being appointed by the Gillard government to serve as Australia's special envoy to Eastern Europe, the Balkans and the Caucuses. He also held academic positions with the United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, sat on the board of the Australian American Fulbright Association and, in 2015, became director of the Griffith Asia Institute.

I wish to return briefly to Professor Trood's contribution to foreign policy. He had well developed views about our public diplomacy and engagement with our region. He believed Australia could confidently play our part on the diplomatic stage. To do so, in his view, we need only draw on our enduring strengths. I return to his first speech in the Senate because he identified the essence of this tradition to be: strong but not uncritical support for allies; robust bilateralism; a willingness to use military force when strategic necessity demands it; a respect for international law; an instinct for problem solving; and a commitment to effective and creative multilateralism. He characterised this as 'middle-power realism'.

Professor Trood's assessments were informed by a body of work that framed Australia's relationship with our nearest neighbours, our place in Asia and the Pacific, and our enduring alliance with the United States. He was fortunate to be writing at a time when significant geopolitical shifts were beginning to occur, and we are fortunate to benefit from his insights and analysis. He saw that East Asia was critically important to Australia's long-term future prosperity. He described himself as 'a long-time enthusiast for Australia's closer engagement with the region, noting that Australia must shed the 'mendicant mentality of a people transplanted from their European roots and desperate to discover an identity'. This was a statement about our ability to be 'clear-eyed about our national interests and confident that those interests are inextricably fused with the region's future.

With China, he believed we could 'aspire to an increasingly constructive relationship across the full range of our political, economic and strategic interests', whilst also moving closer in our strategic partnerships with Japan. In South-East Asia, he recognised the mutual interests that are served by a 'healthy, expanding, cooperative relationship' between Australia and Indonesia. With India, he forecast how our relationship could be much deeper and broader than a shared interest in cricket and historical roots in the Commonwealth. Overall, he advocated for engagement with Asia as a national priority.

Professor Trood made his contribution to foreign policy as an academic and as a senator over more than three decades. South Australian Andrew Hunter recognised how Professor Trood 'contributed much understanding to international relations, including reflections on public diplomacy and middle-power diplomacy'. Mr Hunter particularly noted Professor Trood's warning that pragmatic, self-interested diplomacy about economic outcomes should not be the focus of Australia's international engagement. Foreign policy development in this country is richer for the contribution made by Professor Trood.

I noted earlier that a number of people in this chamber served as senators alongside Russell Trood. In excess of 30 senators, I understand, served concurrently with him. I know many will have their own personal memories on their encounters and experiences. I acknowledge the very moving speech by Senator Brandis. I also wish to thank Senator Moore for providing me with her kind and generous reflections. She told me how she enjoyed his intellect, and his quiet and sharp humour. She described an entertaining and cooperative team member who really loved his work in the Senate and appreciated the real value of committee work. These thoughts are consistent with those of many others who described Professor Trood as decent and courteous.

Russell Trood may have only served one term as a senator but his contribution to Australian and international public policy was much broader. With his untimely and sad passing, the nation is deprived of the continuing contribution of a servant who sought to expand our understanding of the region and our nation's place in the world. I again extend the opposition's deepest sympathies to his family and friends.