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Tuesday, 7 February 2017
Page: 70


Senator McGRATH (QueenslandAssistant Minister to the Prime Minister) (17:18): I wish to add my condolences to those expressed this afternoon in this chamber in remembrance of former senator Russell Trood from Queensland. I did not serve with Russell, but I was the campaign director in 2010 who failed to see get him re-elected—a failure which, I am happy to report, he did not hold against me personally. Looking up at former senator Mason there, in relation to the story of the preferences from the Sex Party, which has become either the truth or an urban myth about how we got Senator Mason over the line, I wish that perhaps the Sex Party had got more votes and we could have got Russell Trood over the line.

Russell was a great servant not just to the Liberal National Party and the former Liberal Party, which he served a branch chair, but to the public at large. More importantly, he was a great servant to thinking. He was one of those rare creatures in this zoo—someone who actually thought before he spoke. Sometimes when I speak I wish I had his patience to slow down my tongue so my thoughts manage to catch up with me.

Senator Williams: So do I!

Senator McGRATH: I think Senator Williams is seconding that motion. I had the privilege, and it was a privilege, of going to the Queensland Conservatorium of Music last Friday and listening to some great speeches honouring Russell Trood, sitting there with his family and friends, his former staff and party stalwarts. I was trying to remember the first time I met Russell. It was in 2009. I had waddled out to his office in Springwood. I went in there, and being a campaign director I was talking about what we needed to do. He had all these books. I remember sitting there looking at all these books and thinking, 'I wonder if he has read all these books.' I was thinking, 'This is actually what I think a senator is.' I had not met a senator before. 'Lots of books—this is pretty cool!' He was an unabashed intellectual. I think sometimes in Australia we do have a race to the bottom, but it is good when you have people like Russell Trood who are not just a speed bump or handbrake, but try to turn the car around and take us back up in the pursuit of intellectual honesty.

He was a liberal with the moderate views of the broad church that is the Liberal National Party. He was decent, he was honest, he had an evil sense of humour and a twinkle in his eye when he was trying to tell a story or listening to someone tell an even better story. His departure from this place in 2011 was a loss to parliament, but his death last month is a loss to all of us, whether family, friend or foe.