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Thursday, 1 March 2018
Page: 2567

Mr HART (Bass) (11:44): I rise today, two short days before a state election to be held on 3 March in Tasmania and, of course, a further state election in South Australia two weeks later. Governments will be formed as a consequence of democratic processes in these two states. We, of course, in this place will be facing electors in the next 12-18 months. There is a lot of cynicism associated with politics. We see that here in Australia and elsewhere where there have been reactions against the status quo and the election of candidates who at least at first blush appear not to represent mainstream orthodoxy. What the public does not see is the day-to-day work, sometimes across ideological boundaries, always seeking to address the concerns of constituents who turn to their elected representatives for assistance with dealing with government. Even the most organised, best-intentioned elected representative cannot deal with the flood of constituent inquiries, particularly where there are issues that may generate significant publicity.

Against this background, there is the bread-and-butter constituent work, seeking to assist constituents in their dealings with government such as pensions and entitlements, immigration or simply allowing somebody's voice to be amplified so that they may be heard as part of some greater process. The role of political staffers and volunteers in this activity cannot be underestimated. People who empathise with the concerns of ordinary Australians, people who pay attention to detail, people who are prepared to listen—these are the people who staff the backrooms of political offices across Australia and, quite frankly, do their best to ensure the concerns of constituents are addressed whether we are Liberal, Labor, Green or otherwise. These are the people that actually do the work.

Sometimes these people volunteer in the community because that's within their character. They sense that they should give back to the community and use their skills to assist the community. There are numerous community organisations, RSLs, bowl clubs, cricket clubs and school associations that benefit from time volunteered by these community-minded volunteers. Invariably, these people assume the roles within those organisations and also within political party branches for which there is rarely an election given the reluctance of people to put their hand up, for example, to assume the role of treasurer or secretary.

I would like to speak today of one such person—a person with an eye for detail, a person who empathised with people seeking assistance and always strived to ensure that the best was done for every constituent. Greg Philp lost his battle with oesophageal cancer on 22 February 2018. He served my good friend Michelle O'Byrne, state Labor member for Bass, as a part-time electoral officer. He was secretary of the West Launceston branch of the Australian Labor Party. His many friends and colleagues were shocked to learn of his diagnosis in early December 2017. It is always difficult to distil the essence of a person. Most of us do not know enough of our colleagues that we're able to sum them up in a few words. However, with Greg Philp there was always a very quiet, self-assured, friendly manner which endeared him to his work colleagues and made him someone who could be instinctively trusted in his dealings with others.

I am very sorry that I am not able to attend his funeral. It started at 10.30 am this morning. I'm sure that he will receive the send-off that he deserves and that all who attend will be able to provide support and love to his family, especially his wife, Deborah. Greg and I shared a birthday. We also shared a love of trivia. He fought his last battle in a quiet and dignified manner. He died surrounded by his family. His departure leaves a hole in the family which is the Tasmanian ALP. He will be greatly missed by all. I send my deepest condolences to Deborah and the family.

I would like to remind all in this place that there are many people like Greg Philp who assist us in our day-to-day work. They are often unrecognised but nevertheless are always content to remain unrecognised and working behind the scenes. They do need to be celebrated. They are all respected for what they do to enable us to do our jobs to the best of our abilities.