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Thursday, 9 February 2017
Page: 592

Mr PYNE (SturtLeader of the House and Minister for Defence Industry) (11:03): I would not say I have great pleasure in rising on the occasion of a parliamentary discussion about the role of former senator Russell Trood, but it is my privilege to stand and talk about Russell Trood, who was a very good friend of mine, a very distinguished member of the Senate and the parliament, and a very distinguished and accomplished person outside the parliament.

It is worth placing on the record a number of Russell's achievements. As colleagues would know, he passed away this year, taken all too young by a particularly unpleasant cancer—and that could happen to any one of us. It is a great sadness to me and, I know, to George Brandis and many other people in this place who knew Russell very well. Of course, it is a much greater sadness to his wife, Dale, and his children, James and Phoebe. I know that they are appreciating all the support and condolences that they have been receiving about their remarkable husband and father.

I would like to talk a little bit about Russell today on the occasion of this parliamentary debate. There are lots of ways you could describe Russell Trood. He was certainly very charming. He was an engaging personality. He was good-humoured. He was good company. He was a proud small 'l' liberal in our party. I was quite surprised when Russell was preselected by the Queensland Liberal National Party.

They have not always sent a lot of small 'l' liberals to Canberra, although they seem to increasingly be doing so. Russell came to Canberra and never changed his principles about what he believed in. He was a proud liberal in the Deakinite tradition, and he was a good friend.

He was also very passionate about what he believed in. He was very accomplished. I have a list of some of the things that Russell did in his life, and it is worth putting them on the record, because it is quite remarkable. Not everybody who comes into this place has the expertise and the erudition in a particular area that Russell did in foreign affairs. He was director of the Centre for the Study of Australia-Asia Relations. He was director of the Griffith Asia Institute. He was an adjunct professor at the University of Sydney. He was an adjunct fellow of the ANU's Department of International Relations. He was a visiting fellow at the Lowy Institute for International Policy. He was an adjunct professor at the US Studies Centre at the University of Sydney. He was on the board of the National Library, the Australia-Indonesia Institute and the Australian-American Fulbright Commission. He was active on the Council for Security Cooperation in the Asia Pacific. He was a driving force in the Queensland branch of the Australian Institute of International Affairs. He was president of the United Nations Association of Australia. He was on the council of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute. He was the Prime Minister's special envoy for Eastern Europe.

Of course, he was a Liberal senator for Queensland for six years and had the distinction of winning the last spot in that particular election in 2004—the credit for which went to Barnaby Joyce, in fact, but it was not Barnaby Joyce who won the last spot. Ron Boswell rushed out and said that Barnaby Joyce had won the last spot, and that became the fact. It was actually a myth. Russell Trood was the last person to win in that particular election, and that gave us an unprecedented and never repeated four senators out of six from Queensland in that election and, of course, gave John Howard a majority in the Senate, the first time that any government had had a majority in the Senate since the Fraser period. So it was quite a remarkable achievement. Of course, quite a few people wish we had not had a majority in the Senate! 'Be careful what you wish for,' I think, is the expression. When he was in the Senate, of course, he was the deputy chair of the Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade and he was the chair of the Select Committee on Reform of the Australian Federation.

So Russell brought amazing experience and knowledge about foreign relations to this place, and he never tired of talking about it if you wanted to know anything about foreign policy, particularly if you wanted a different view from the government line, for example—although Russell was never ill disciplined in public about his views. But he was a questioning member of the parliament and the party room who did not just always accept whatever he had been told by DFAT, the Minister for Foreign Affairs or whoever it might be, particularly a bureaucrat. He would be asking questions and testing your thesis like a true academic. But he was not just an academic; he was also a very passionate politician. He was a longstanding Liberal in Queensland; we did not pluck him out of academia and bring him into the parliament. He had been a member of the Liberal Party in Queensland for decades, working tirelessly—as so many people in this place do themselves and know that others do—for the election of other people. I was very glad when he got the chance to be a senator. He shared a house briefly with me in Kingston, but he found my digs not suitable for his very high standards, and he very politely told me that he, at his age and station, expected something better. That never seemed to worry Robert Hill, I must say; he was happy to live there for many decades.

So Russell lived with me briefly, but I will tell one story about Russell before I finish—which is at my own expense, actually, and his as well. In 2007, his parliamentary colleague from Queensland Senator Santoro, if you remember, stood down from the ministry, and I was the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Health and Ageing, Tony Abbott, and Russell was a Queensland senator but a very new one, obviously. I had been in parliament, at that stage, for about 14 years, but I had never been promoted to the ministry under Prime Minister Howard, so I was, I think, the longest serving parliamentary secretary since Federation. I always used to say, 'I do that job so well that John Howard thinks I should stay in it.'

I happily did it. I did things like mental health. I really enjoyed the role, but I was in it for a very long time. So I did not do what we all do when there is a vacancy, which is wait by the phone expecting a call. I had given up on that many years before. I was actually painting a bathroom door at home at my house, which I had taken off the hinges, and somebody told me—I think George told me—that Russell had been made the Minister for Ageing, which I thought was a remarkable achievement having been only in the parliament for a few years, when I was the Parliamentary Secretary for Health and Ageing. But, I rang him and congratulated him—as you would do—and Russell said, 'But I haven't been called by the Prime Minister.' I said, 'Really?' He said, 'No.' I said, 'But everyone says that you are the new minister for ageing. I think it's been in the media.' He said, 'Well, I haven't been rung,' and then my phone rang and I was made the Minister for Ageing. Russell took it very well, I must say, because I thought people would think that I was being arch, you see—but not Russell because Russell knew that I liked him very much and I was genuinely happy about his promotion. Then I ended up in the job that I thought he had got. We stayed very good friends and we were friends right up until his death, and it has been a great sadness to me. I pass on my condolences to his wife, Dale, and his children, Phoebe and James. We have lost a very good soul in Russell Trood, the likes of which we do not often see in this place.