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Thursday, 29 November 2012
Page: 10412

Senator MILNE (TasmaniaLeader of the Australian Greens) (23:12): I rise this evening to join Senator Evans and Senator Abetz on behalf of the Greens in saying to everybody here that I hope they have a happy, healthy and safe Christmas and holiday period and have an opportunity to enjoy some time with friends and family. That is what we are looking forward to, I am sure.

I want to take this opportunity to thank my fellow senators and, in particular, Senator Siewert, who doubles as our whip and manager of business. She does an extraordinarily good job, although I have urged her to try and see if she can account the numbers to get a few more numbers from time to time! Nevertheless, she does very well, but we rarely get past 11. We try very hard and we are encouraging her in this pursuit.

I also want to thank our whips clerk and deputy whips clerk, Emma Bull and Alice Ruxton. They work extremely hard to try to negotiate the smooth running of the Senate in the management of business and try to get good outcomes. They help us to stay sane in the management of the way the Senate works.

I want to also thank the Senate staff and the attendants in particular, and of course the Comcar drivers, Ian and Peter, who are organising the transport.

I also thank Hansard—they do a fantastic job for us. The wonderful thing about all of the Senate staff—the attendants, Hansard, Comcar, 2020 and the Clerk's Office—is it is always courteous, it is always helpful and it is always pleasant. We have a stressful life in this job, and it is so good to come in here where everybody is treated in exactly the same way. People go out of their way to try to make sure that we have what we need and to facilitate that at all times. I am, on behalf of all the Greens, really appreciative of the efforts that everyone makes to make this parliament as good as it can be, from the Clerks right through to the attendants, Hansard, Comcar and so on.

I especially thank the gardeners. Gardening is a passion of mine, and one of the joys of being able to work in a beautiful building like this is to be able to look through so much glass around the place into beautiful nooks and crannies in the gardens. It certainly lifts your spirits. There is a beautiful courtyard just near here which, in the Spring, has the most amazing display of azaleas and rhododendrons, camellias and flowering cherries. For two or three weeks of the year it is magnificent. It is a classic example of a thing of beauty being a joy for ever. As I look around the gardens and watch the changing of the seasons I acknowledge and appreciate the efforts of the gardeners, which are maybe not articulated often. I appreciate what they do in bringing joy to our lives in the way that they keep the building and in enabling us to have those moments of sheer enjoyment.

Thanks to everyone, and I hope you all have a really wonderful Christmas break. I look forward to seeing you all in what will be a very big year for every one of us.