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Thursday, 30 November 2017
Page: 9394


Senator IAN MACDONALD (Queensland) (16:55): I don't want to interrupt the TWU contribution, but I want to briefly make a contribution in recognition and remembrance of Steve Hutchins. Perhaps this isn't the right time to say this, but there aren't a lot of people in this chamber that I would bother to have a beer with, but Steve Hutchins was one of them. That's unusual for me, because I usually keep my distance from members of the Labor Party but Steve was a great guy, never vicious that I saw. Perhaps he might have been in the TWU, but he was never vicious in his arguments and his approach to the work that we do in this Senate.

I'm sorry circumstances yesterday—timing and place—prevented a lot of people attending his funeral, which I would have liked to do, had circumstances been different. But I want to simply place on the record the very high regard I had for Steve Hutchins. Michael Forshaw was one of his mates. Occasionally, after a lunchtime meeting, a visiting delegation or something, there'd be three of us left in the lunchroom making sure that none of the alcohol went back into the cupboard. Steve and Michael and I would then solve all the problems of the world, including some in the Labor Party, I might say, and they probably gave me a bit of advice about how to solve the few problems the Liberal Party might have had at any particular time. But he was a great guy.

I understand from what Senator Gallacher has said and from what others have said—and I have been listening to the debate whilst meeting with other people—that Steve was very loyal to his cause and very loyal to the Labor Party. But I know he was at times disappointed that the party in those days—not those currently here—weren't quite as loyal to him. I remember in one of his early bouts of illness I went to see him in the hospital when he was here in Canberra and he said to me: 'You know, Ian, it's strange. I've been a life-long member of the Labor Party. I've done everything I can for them. I've remained loyal, but the only people who have come to see me in hospital are three Liberals.' I think they were the late Jeannie Ferris, Bill Heffernan and me. He was clearly disappointed, because he mentioned that a group that he had done so much for and been so loyal to hadn't recognised the difficulty he was in right at the beginning—this was many years ago when he was in the Senate. I appreciate that many of those in the Labor Party now were not in the Senate when Steve Hutchins was here. I was for all of the time he was here. He was a great man. I never really knew his wife and family, but I extend to them my condolences. Can I just say that I want to be associated with the condolence motion. Steve, rest in peace. Have a few beers up there in the big palace in the sky or wherever you are. I'm sure we all look forward to perhaps catching up with Steve again sometime in the future, in another life.