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Wednesday, 26 June 2013
Page: 4191

Senator NASH (New South WalesDeputy Leader of The Nationals in the Senate) (18:50): What do you say when your best buddy in the Senate leaves? Bye! No, not at all. Eight years ago Barnaby and I entered the Senate together and we now get on extremely well. It was not always the case. When we first came together it was actually for a Page Research Centre inquiry into regional telecommunications, where we both learnt a lot about telco and about each other. Barnaby describes our relationship then as being a bit like two cats in a cage that did not get on. When we were just about to release the report I can remember this absolutely screaming argument we had one day on the phone as I was driving between Boorowa and Yass. It was a very interesting start.

But along the way we did develop a very strong respect for each other. It was not all that long after the eight-year start that we really did develop a very close working relationship and a very strong friendship. There are not too many really strong friendships formed in this place. There are some, and it is always great to see. We are very fortunate to have one. In all this time we have watched each other's back. In a place where often you can have people watching your back one minute and not the next it has been a really extraordinary thing to have that sort of friendship where we know that we really will look out for each other.

He has certainly always been very colourful. Sometime early on after a very long and late passionate discussion dealing with deep policy challenges on all things rural with Dave Toller, Barnaby and Nigel were admiring the recently shaved hedge near the Senate entrance. While the details of why they fell into the hedge are sketchy at best, they both appeared in the Senate the following morning looking like they had been attacked by identical hedgehogs. The two body shapes imprinted in the hedge for several days soon grew back. The mystery of the hedge fairies was eventually solved. They do assure me that they have now both grown up.

The stories from Barnaby are just part of him. There was this one story that Barnaby was telling me that I will relate. He had been away from home—as he indicated earlier, he often was—for quite some time. He was out near Lightning Ridge and was driving home to see Nat. He picked up the phone and he called Nat and he said: 'Nat, I am so looking forward to getting home. I can't wait to see you.' That is the Hansard version. It was a little more colourful. The person on the other end of the phone said, 'Who is this?' Barnaby, of course, had neglected to put '07' in front of the number and rung some random woman and told her how much he was looking forward to 'seeing her' and that she should be looking forward to 'seeing him' too. The colour always associated with Barnaby is legendary. I have a long list of achievements that I was going to read out and I am not doing so. I am really conscious of other colleagues in this place.

Speaking of colleagues in this place, I want to associate myself with the remarks by the leader with regard to you, Senator Humphries. You know the regard in which I hold you. You will be very sorely missed in this place.

I also want to take the opportunity to make some remarks regarding Senator Trish Crossin, who I think has made an extraordinary contribution in this place and who is leaving under very, very cloudy circumstances. We will miss her contribution also.

The achievements that we have seen from Barnaby are long and lengthy. I will save those for another day, actually, and do a specific adjournment speech during which I can spend some time going through all of those things. He has not put them all on the record.

Opposition senators interjecting

Senator NASH: I will indeed. I will do all of those things at that point in time. At the federal council in 2009, in the midst of the ETS debate, Barnaby, as part of his speech, was relating the story of the deeds of Hernan Cortez in 1519 in the conquest of the Aztecs. Cortez ensured the resolve of his troops by burning the boats and in doing so cutting off any means of retreat. The only way his men could ensure their survival was to achieve victory. It struck me that that was exactly what he was doing in terms of leaving this place and going to New England.

I have to tell you that the conversation that we had the night it became very apparent that we were going to need a new candidate for New England was all about the National Party having to win the seat. It was not about Barnaby having to win the seat. I can clearly remember walking down the corridor after we had been to the party meeting at which we had heard the news and saying: 'Do you want to do it? Do you want to put your hand up for New England?' He said, 'I have to. The Nationals have to win the seat.' It was not about him. It is a real measure of the man that it was all about the party and not about him as an individual.

And he took a huge risk, with his family having to make potentially an enormous change to accommodate this. With the percentage that he was up against it, he was on the most difficult campaign trail that you could possibly imagine. And yet he chose to take the risk and do it because he knew that it was the right thing to do. I do not think any of us should ever forget that. We now have some changed circumstances, though: following on in the vein of my good colleague Senator Humphries, I was going to make this great analogy with Hernan Cortez but now it is a little more like Barnaby in a dinghy with a fishing line and a stubby rowing gently to another shore. But he still has to win the seat and I know that he will not back off one spec in trying to win that seat.

Barnaby has taught me a lot. He has taught me how to have courage and how to be determined. He has taught me about having the courage of your convictions. He has taught me that just because you are a girl does not mean you can't be tougher than the blokes. And he has taught me to never, ever give up. One example around at the moment and that Barnaby referred to earlier is the issue of Archer Daniels Midland potentially taking over GrainCorps. I will prove the case that that is not in the national interest and I know that my good colleague Senator Heffernan, who I have to acknowledge as well in this, will be right there with me. For the future of our farmers and the future of this nation, we have to make sure that does not happen. It is not in the national interest.

To Nat, Bridgette, Julia, Caroline and Odette, thank you for sharing him with us. It must have been incredibly hard along the way. But thank you so much. More than just sharing your husband and your father with us in this chamber, you have shared him with the Australian people. For that, on behalf of them, we really thank you. Bridgette, Julia, Caroline and Odette, just remember that your father will have a place in history that nobody else could possibly have. When the history books look back at politicians, your father will be one of the most amazing people who is referred to. While it is hard, I thank you, Nat, and all four of you for sharing your husband and your dad with us and the Australian people.

It is absolutely an honour to be deputy. People used to come to me occasionally and ask whether I could get Barnaby to do something, get him to that, get him to do this. It was not that I had any magic wand; I think that they thought I had some magic power. It was just that I really nagged him a lot—although my wonderful, wonderful husband used to say that that was fantastic, because while I was nagging Barnaby I was leaving him alone! He has been the most extraordinary leader; the most extraordinary friend. He is a great leader, a great fighter and a great friend. We are going to miss you in this place; we are going to miss you terribly. It is not going to be the same. It is going to be a very different place without you, but somehow we will manage.

We think, though, that he has already moved on. We were discussing a little earlier in our Senate party room the makeup of the Senate after the election and Barnaby said: 'Senate? I always wondered what those senators did.' We figure that he has already moved on. We will really miss you in this place. You truly are a great Australian. Thank you for your contribution. Go forth and conquer.