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Thursday, 3 December 2015
Page: 14740

Mr PYNE (SturtLeader of the House, Minister for Industry and Innovation and Science) (16:44): On indulgence, I am very pleased to rise in the House at the end of the year 2015 to make a few remarks to thank the people in this building who keep the House operating very successfully and smoothly and making us look good every day. However, I should begin by thanking you, Mr Speaker—and also the former Speaker—for the work that you have been doing in the last few month I think it is obvious to everyone that you have taken to the role very well and bring an authority and a knowledge of the standing orders in the chamber and an experience of politics which means question time and the rest of the House is allowed to flow and be allowed to be combative but also respectful and sensible. I thank you and congratulate you on the very good job you are doing as Speaker.

I should also acknowledge the former Speaker, the member for Mackellar, as I nominated her for the role and famously dragged her to the chair with Tony Abbott, who was of course the Prime Minister at the time.

Mr Perrett: How did that work out?

Mr PYNE: It did not work out too well, Graeme; that is the answer to that question. Politics is like that sometimes. The member for Mackellar did a sterling job in the role of Speaker. I think she did a very, very good job. She faced a lot of pressure from the opposition over that period of two years and left the office in circumstances that I am sure she regrets and that I too regret. She is a valued colleague and a very good friend. She is a very good member for Mackellar and I look forward to her continuing in that role for many years into the future.

I would also like to thank my staff first—because often we leave the staff right until the end. My staff have had a very busy year in 2015. They do a wonderful job. They are led by Adam Howard, who is my chief of staff. Before him it was Meredith Jackson—until the reshuffle moved me from Education to Industry, Innovation and Science. I would like to thank all of my staff, led by Adam. I would like to thank John Bathgate and Hannah March. Hannah is the House adviser and before her it was John Bathgate. They have established an excellent relationship with Ewan Kelly, from the office of the Manager of Opposition Business.

What most people do not realise is that the Manager of Opposition Business and I talk to each other a great deal. Certainly, our staff talk a great deal and they all get to know each other pretty well—because, while we do like to be 'hard at the ball' in a political sense, we also have to make sure that democracy in this country works. It is one of the great features of our country over the last 115 years that, because of compulsory voting and the preferential system, we have been dominated by two major political parties—or two major sides of politics. That gives us great stability in government—and the 43rd Parliament was particularly interesting to people because that did not happen. The 43rd Parliament was probably not one of the best parliaments in recent history. Usually, either Labor or the coalition is in power and that does bring a great stability. We work as much as we can together—as much as you can work with the opposition, who want to take your seat—to make sure democracy is working.

I would also like to thank Lisa Paul, the Secretary of the Department of Education and Training, which was my former department, and Glenys Beauchamp, the Secretary of Department of Industry, Innovation and Science, which is my current department. They are both very professional public servants leading very professional teams. Not necessarily every member of the Public Service was a devotee of the government's policies in Education—and that was probably the case in Industry, Innovation and Science but perhaps less so—but they all operated entirely professionally and I never felt that my departments were ever working against me in any respect. They are led very ably by Lisa Paul and Glenys Beauchamp.

I would like to thank the current Prime Minister and my cabinet colleagues, and I would like to thank the former Prime Minister for appointing me to the cabinet and giving me the job of Leader of the House. It is one of the more exciting jobs, for those of us who love the parliament—and I know that the member for Watson does, as did the member for Grayndler before him. Being Leader of the House is to reach the apex of the parliamentary chamber and being Manager of Opposition Business is not a bad consolation prize in opposition. At least it keep you busy in opposition trying to cause me trouble in government!

I would like to thank all the clerks. Led by David Elder, the clerks make sure we keep on track and they make us look good. I thank the Serjeant-at-Arms, Bronwyn Notzon, and her team. I thank the House Table Office, led by Catherine Cornish. I thank the House Parliamentary Liaison Office, led by Annette Cronin, with whom I work closely. I thank Peter Quiggin and his staff at the Office of Parliamentary Counsel, with whom I meet every week as part of the Parliamentary Business Committee—of which the member for Eden-Monaro is now an esteemed member. I thank Anne Dowd, Anne O'Connor and Sue Klammer, who do a lot of legislative work through the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet in terms of the schedule and the sittings and the legislation that comes to the parliament.

I would also like to thank the government whips—the member for Forrest, the member for Herbert and the member for Braddon—and their staff, led by Vicki Riggio and Nathan Winn. And I thank former whips the member for Wright and the member for Berowra for their work over the last two years. Being the whip is one of the hardest and most unpleasant jobs in the parliament, because you have to keep saying no to people's requests. The whip is not usually the most popular person in the government or the opposition. They are always very charming and very nice, and they work very hard to make our colleagues very happy, but it is a tough job. The member for Forrest is leading an excellent team in that role on behalf of the government—as, of course, is the member for Parkes, who has been the Nationals Whip since I can remember. He adds a bit of consistency and stability to the whips team—and I look forward to the other whips doing the same over the coming years into the future. I would also like to thank the Opposition Whip, the member for Fowler. Long may he reign! We on this side of the House are great supporters of the member for Fowler.

Ms Ryan: I'm with him!

Mr PYNE: I am glad that you are with him as well. He leads an excellent team. Like the Manager of Opposition Business and I, the whips also talk to each other on a daily basis to keep the business flowing and to make sure everybody gets a chance to represent their electorate. That is the purpose of a good whips team—to make sure the members who have been elected to this place get the chance to represent their electorates, to put their arguments, to make their speeches and to do what they can to be good members serving their electorates.

I would also like to thank your staff, Mr Speaker, led by Cate Clunies-Ross, a person I have known very well for a very long period of time. They are very competent and I think they have taken over the role very successfully.

I would also like to thank the Manager of Opposition Business, the member for Watson. The member for Watson and I have had quite a challenging year in some respects. We have been thrust together far too often over issues to do with entitlements and family travel. I must say that I think both of us were rather unfairly treated, but we have come through that process and held our families intact and made them understand that this is just the vagaries of politics. I hope that we have a less challenging year next year from a family point of view. I thank him for his good cheer, integrity and honesty in his dealings with me and with the government. It is a very important relationship, and it is a relationship that can only work on the basis of your word being your bond. I have to say that, whether it has been the member for Watson or the member for Grayndler—and I hope they would say the same of me—that has been the case.

I do not think I could finish without mentioning Don Randall and his tragic passing. As the member for Canning, he is the only member we have lost this year. Every now and then a member of parliament does pass away, and it is a very traumatic period for everyone in the parliament, not just the party from which that member comes. Don Randall was a personal friend and a colleague. I spoke on the condolence motion for him when he passed away, but I would like to say in closing that we miss him and we will continue to remember him in this place.

Finally, I would like to thank my family for their forbearance. As Tony Abbott is very fond of saying, we are volunteers for this business; they are conscripts. My children are getting older in the service. My twins are now 15. I have a 13-year-old and a seven-year-old. They have only ever known politics. They are very good and very sensible, and I am very proud of them and very lucky to have them.

I wish everybody season's greetings or a happy Christmas, as I know the Manager of Opposition Business will wish everybody. Happy Christmas!