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Wednesday, 13 November 2013
Page: 235

Mr PYNE (SturtMinister for Education and Leader of the House) (20:52): I do not wish to detain the House at great length tonight, but I do think it is appropriate that, as Leader of the House, I say a few words about the retirement of the member for Griffith. Proverbs has a statement in it, that from those to whom much is given much is expected. The member for Griffith is a highly intelligent individual, a tremendous communicator and a man of great passion and ability, and he could have turned all of those talents to any kind of path in life. He could have been a very successful CEO of a business and earned tremendous amounts of money. He could have been a tremendous academic in one of Australia's many tremendous institutions. But he chose to pursue public life because, for him—as, I hope, for all of us in this chamber—parliament is the highest form of public service.

There are so many things a person of Kevin Rudd's talents could have done, and yet he put his family through, and himself through, what we all know is a very tough life. I am the father of four children, still happily married—after only 19 years, unlike the 32 years of Kevin and Therese. But we all know the extraordinary sacrifices that families make in this place to support their fathers, their husbands, their wives, their partners to pursue public service. It is, in so many respects, a very selfish life, but in so many respects it is a selfless life as well.

So it is important to pay tribute tonight in a public way to a person who rose to the highest office in the land of the 13th biggest economy in the world—a very significant country, not just in our region but in the world. To become leader of a great party, whether it is the Liberal Party or the Labor Party, is a tremendous achievement. To lead that party to victory, to secure the confidence of the Australian people, is a crowning glory. Nobody can ever take that away from the member for Griffith.

While I have called him all sorts of names over the years—some of them more memorable than others—as part of the cut and thrust of this chamber, on a personal basis I have never had a cross word with the member for Griffith. I will reveal a secret tonight, now that he is retiring: he and I were once both members of the same prayer group in this place. Thirteen years ago, when my twins were born—after a very difficult pregnancy and a long period of time getting there—the member for Griffith could not have been more supportive to me as a human being. He was entirely true to his words tonight: 'Take care of each other.' In spite of the argy-bargy that goes on in this place, we are all human beings.

I am so pleased to be able to give Kevin Rudd back to his beautiful family and his wife. I am sure he has decades of contribution to public life, in one respect or another, ahead of him. But I am sure he will also be putting his family first into the future.