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Thursday, 24 November 2011
Page: 13843

Mr PYNE (SturtManager of Opposition Business) (16:49): I will be brief as much already has been said in these valedictories which I agree with—not everything, but I certainly agree with much of it and do not wish to repeat it. I would like to send best wishes to the former Speaker, the member for Scullin, Harry Jenkins. I did not really get the opportunity in the tumult of the earlier debate to put on the record my very genuine affection for the member for Scullin. I am sure the words he put to the parliament today stand on the record. I know that he loved the job of Speaker, and he did it with great aplomb. We will miss him as Speaker, and I will miss him personally for the good relationship that we had. It was always candid and always friendly, never in the least bit acrimonious. I appreciated his often good advice and have a genuine affection for him.

I also place on record my thanks to all the people who make this place work, who make us look good all year round. This has been a gruelling year and next year will be a gruelling year, but the clerks, led by Bernard Wright; the House attendants, led by Cheryl Lane; the Department of Parliamentary Services, led by Alan Thompson; and the PLO all ensure the parliament operates smoothly and well in spite of the frailties of many of its members.

I also wish you the best in your role as Speaker. I look forward to working with you next year to try to bring about a better parliament and a better question time. The beginning of that would be a ministry and Prime Minister who tried to answer questions rather than simply slag and bag the opposition.

I also thank my staff in my office. Some people think I am quite hard to work for. I cannot see that myself. Adam Howard, my Chief of Staff, leads a tremendous team. They do a very fine job. James Newbury works here in Canberra with responsibility for my role as Manager of Opposition Business. It is a very changeable job during the day. I would say that today was probably one that came somewhat out of the blue for me and my staff. All of us have to roll with the punches on a daily basis, but today might have been one of the more exciting days from my perspective as the Manager of Opposition Business.

In thanking my own staff, I would also like to thank some of the members of the Leader of the House's staff: Jo and Moksha, who spent a lot of time talking to my office—and we spent a lot of time talking to them. It is not their fault that their bosses are not always as reasonable, calm and pacific as they should be. Both of them—this year Jo has been replaced by Moksha—and also James and others, in spite of the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune that visit us in this place on a regular basis, certainly do their job very professionally and very well.

I thank the party whip, Warren Entsch, who leads a team that in this parliament have a great deal more to do than they would normally have to do. Warren does it with great friendliness and affability and holds the show together tremendously well.

Also, while it pains me, I would like to thank the Leader of the House for being generally available to me to try to make the place work and also for being mostly candid with me about things that happen in this place. I would like to place on record that I think there was a very unkind cartoon of the Leader of the House in the Daily Telegraph, in the Piers Akerman story about the Leader of the House, because it is not true that Anthony Albanese has such dreadful ties or wears his pants so high. I actually rang the Leader of the House on this occasion; I felt that he might have been rather mistreated by the Daily Telegraph in the cartoon. I look forward to working with him next year as we go toe to toe on a tactical and strategic basis in this place for our respective sides.

I also thank the Leader of the Opposition, Tony Abbott; the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, Julie Bishop; the Leader of the National Party, Warren Truss; and the leadership group in the coalition in general. We have had a good year. It has been a tough year. We have met the standards required of an opposition: to hold a government to account. I think that has been reflected in the field evidence that I receive from the public but also in the published opinion polling. We would much rather be in the position that we are in at the end of this year than the position that the government is in.

Finally, I thank my family, Carolyn, Barnaby, Eleanor, Felix and Aurelia, who are 11, 11, nine and three—well, Carolyn is not, obviously; she is my age. But the others are my four beautiful children, the little small people who do not really understand, I think, why I spend so much time away from them when I could be with them. They are tremendous in their stoicism. All of our families put up with a great deal, and my family is an inspiration to me. I thank them so much for allowing me to do this job, and I wish everyone in the place a happy and safe Christmas.