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Thursday, 24 June 2004
Page: 31778

Mr HATTON (12:09 PM) —Mr Deputy Speaker Mossfield, it is lucky that you happen to be in the chair, because I want to take a little time to say thank you to the Labor members of parliament who will not be continuing as federal representatives after the coming election. I want to express my appreciation for those people who served here in this federal parliament, including you as the member for Greenway for the past eight years—along with me: I just finished eight years service on 15 June. I thank Janice Crosio, the member for Prospect, who came into this House in 1990 after initially serving a mayoralty in her home city and then going into state parliament, where she became a minister. Here Janice has served on a broad number of committees and is now the Chief Opposition Whip.

We also have Leo McLeay, who yesterday celebrated 25 years in the federal parliament, and Laurie Brereton, the member for Kingsford Smith, who was a state member several times over and a state minister who was willing to take really tough decisions—the most difficult of which was the `beds to the west' decision to move hospital facilities to the western part of Sydney. This provided services to where the majority of the population of Sydney was living and would in the future live—people in areas such as Greenway, which is the area the Deputy Speaker represents, as well as other areas.

The commonality of all of those members is the fact that they are Labor members, but there also a commonality in their length of service to the Labor movement both inside and outside the House. The member for Greenway has given distinguished and long service to the trade union movement in New South Wales. The member for Watson—previously the member for Grayndler—Leo McLeay, has had a distinguished service within ALP head office.

Two of these people had a particular significance for me eight years ago when I came into this place. Two people usher you forward when you present yourself to the Speaker, and Leo McLeay and Janice Crosio were my federal sponsors into this House. They mirror two different traditions within the New South Wales branch: one came through from local council and state government and then to the federal level; the other came in through service directly to the party in its organisational wing as well as in local council, and then into the federal parliament.

It has been a great privilege for me during the past eight years. I was a bit of a latecomer, arriving three months after everyone else in 1996. They put me in the departure lounge, so I was sitting just behind Clyde Holding and Barry Jones and right next to me was Bobby Brown, the then member for Charlton. After some time—about 18 months or so—Leo, who was then whip, came to me and said, `Would you like to move closer to the action?' I said I was actually quite comfortable for this parliament to be in the departure lounge, because you can learn an enormous amount, as I had been doing already, from those people who had served so long in the parliament. It was a rare opportunity, day by day in question time, to be able to talk to them and to draw on their experience, and I hoped to use that knowledge to some effect in the years ahead.

Longevity in this game is something that does not come to everyone. Many people come through and do not serve very long in the parliament. The distinguished service that Laurie Brereton has given at state level and as the member for Kingsford-Smith, that Janice Crosio has given in the state and federal parliaments and that Leo McLeay has given in serving here for 25 years, reaching what is effectively ministerial level as Speaker during the Hawke-Keating government and then serving as Chief Opposition Whip, is pretty hard to do year in year out. But what it has meant for the electorates of all those people is that there has been a continuity of service and a continuity of commitment. And it means that the fundamental connections between the electors and the elected remain very strong. I want to compliment all of those people who have given so much of their lives to the labour movement inside and outside this House and wish them the very best in their retirement. I hope that their spell in the paddock is long. (Time expired)