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Tuesday, 7 February 2017
Page: 68


Senator FIFIELD (VictoriaManager of Government Business in the Senate, Minister for Communications and Minister for the Arts) (17:08): I rise to associate myself with the contributions of colleagues, and by the number of contributions that have been made it is clear that Russell Trood touched a lot of people and that there was a great deal of affection for him. When I first arrived in this place in 2004 I was sat on my own—I thought someone was trying to send me a message. Fortunately, not long after I arrived here Russell Trood was sat next to me. We were bench buddies for a number of years. We got on fabulously. From time to time people are moved around this chamber, but Russell and I entered a pact—no reflection on our colleagues, but we said that we were happy to sit anywhere in this chamber as long as we were sitting together. That served us very well. I could not have wished for a more agreeable colleague to spend time with. That period as bench buddies is a time of my life that I will always look back on with great fondness.

Russell and I did not always agree on issues. We took different sides in the VSU debate; in leadership ballots sometimes we were voting together and sometimes we were not. With Russell you could always have a good and civil discussion, probing the reasons for each other's thoughts, but never was there even the slightest degree of tension—there was always a great deal of respect. One of the marks of Russell was that you could debate anything with him, take any position, and the friendship would only be stronger as a result of that interaction. Some of us in this place did on occasion refer to Russell as 'Red Russell' because he was moderate in outlook as well as temperament. That was a little unfair to Russell, because he was fairly and squarely in the mainstream of the liberal tradition. A number of colleagues have said, and I agree, that Russell was the model of a senator. He was the sort of person that I think the voting public would like to think occupies this chamber. He was, as we all know, thoughtful, deliberative and widely read. He had a passion for good policy. He was curious, inquiring and independent of mind. He always had a dignity about him, and his contributions were of such a quality that it always made you want to be a better senator and a better contributor in this place yourself.

When I spoke in the valedictory address in 2011 when Russell was leaving us I said that it was my hope that Russell's absence from this place would prove to be, in line with his academic heritage, a mere sabbatical. Unfortunately that was not the case, and I think the Senate was the poorer for his absence and for the fact that the opportunity for him to return did not present itself. But Russell did continue to make an important contribution in public policy.

The longer we spend in this place and the more we work with colleagues, and particularly those with whom we have become close and have an affection, when they leave this place a little part of you leaves with them. It is comforting to ponder that hopefully they have appreciated taking a little bit of each of us with them, and I hope that was the case with Russell. We miss him; he should be remembered as one of the substantial figures of the Australian Senate. Russell and Russell's family are very much in my thoughts and in the thought of all of us at this time.