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Wednesday, 26 June 2013
Page: 4194

Senator BOSWELL (Queensland) (18:59): Strange things happen when you are in politics. I campaigned with Barnaby the first time, and he did not get close. I campaigned with him the second time, and he did not get close. But he had the tenacity to keep going, and the third time he got there. I remember going into the counting room. The computers were going around and around in circles and spitting out various names, and I saw his name come up—number 5. I had the great satisfaction of picking the phone up, and I remember these words: I said, 'Barnaby, you have won; go down to your church and thank God, because you have won.'

We did not start off too well. In fact, it was a tussle over whose way was going to take precedence in the Senate, and it was a huge battle. But I believe we have both learnt from each other. I have certainly learnt from Barnaby. I was a bit backward in coming forward on right-to-life issues, but I saw him stand out there and run up the flag and not take a backward step. I saw him stand up for what he believed in, and I learnt a lot from him. I remember counting the votes. We were taking bits and pieces off, and we came to the one where you give your preferences out. I found one guy, and I asked, 'Who do you represent?' He said, 'I'm a sort of right-wing Catholic', and I said, 'Well, give your preferences to Barnaby.' That guy got to the extreme left-hand side of the ticket and got a donkey vote of 8,000. And that went to Barnaby.

I believe he was anointed to go into this place. I remember he went through one gate—with three million votes out there or whatever it is—with 167 votes. He then picked up and became the fifth senator from Queensland and gained the majority in the Senate. Then he made a statement: 'I am for the bush'. And what bigger statement could you make? He said, 'I'm going to open my office in St George', and everyone said, 'Barnaby, you can't get there, you can't get away, you'll drive yourself made trying to get to places—don't do it.' But he ran that flag up and said, 'I'm for primary industry, I'm for regional Australia, I'm for rural Australia, and there is no better way to say it than to go and find myself a position and a home and an office in the middle of the bush.' That is where his love is.

My time is nearly over. I will be exiting this place in 12 months time. But I know Barnaby loves the National Party. He loves what it stands for, he loves its history, he loves what it can do for people. And he has defended that National Party for the six or seven years that he has been on central council. We stood shoulder to shoulder to defend the National Party and keep it as the National Party, and in the end circumstances moved differently. I remember the debate we had on regional universities. His view was that they had to be protected, that we had to provide playing fields, and if we voted for this legislation we would not be able to do it. I could not understand why the Liberals were getting so excited. But to them, the bill was their single desk, and they would die for it. That was the highest priority of the Liberals. I could not understand it, but that is what they wanted. So, we had a diversion of views on that. But over the period of the last six or seven years we have become very close friends. I know as I go out that he will carry that banner for the National Party. I believe we will see Barnaby Joyce in the lower house, and he will be holding, in time to come, one of the highest positions in this land. He goes with my blessing, and I wish him all the best.

To Gary: you were the right fit for a senator for the Australian Capital Territory. I do not think you would fit in Queensland, but you certainly fit like a glove in the Australian Capital Territory. And yet you married a National Party girl! And she could not bring you over! I had a function the other night. A lot of people came, and they said it was a wonderful function. I said, 'You've seen politics at its best, but politics can be cruel, and it can be vicious.' Gary, you have experienced that. You do not deserve it; we think you deserve better. But that is the game we play, and we willingly play it.

I wish you all the best. To Barnaby and Gary, good luck, and God bless you both.