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Wednesday, 9 May 2012
Page: 4437

Mr McCORMACK (Riverina) (12:29): I was deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Judith Adams, on 31 March, after a long and brave battle against cancer. I extend my condolences to her sons, Stuart and Robert; daughters-in-law Anne and Tammy; and her grandchildren, Taylor and Maelle.

I support the emotive and heartfelt words of those who have spoken on this condolence motion earlier but, particularly, those of her fellow Western Australians the members for Forrest and Hasluck. Senator Judith Adams was a champion for regional Australians and particularly for regional Western Australians. The Leader of the Opposition described her as a great fighter for Western Australia. She was born in Picton, New Zealand on 11 April 1943 and went on to train as a nurse before joining the New Zealand territorial army as a nursing sister. She was later posted to Vietnam as a civilian nurse under the Colombo Plan during the Vietnam War.

Judith moved to Australia in 1968 and went on to work for the medical department of Western Australia as a member of the emergency nursing service. This gave her the opportunity to visit many regional towns throughout the vast state. It was in Western Australia that Judith met her husband, Gordon, a pilot for the Royal Flying Doctor Service, and they married in 1970. In 1972 Gordon and Judith purchased a property and moved to Kojonup, three hours south of Perth, to run a farm and to raise family. This is the same property at which, following his passing in 2008, Gordon was buried and where Judith has now joined him in eternal rest.

Judith was an active member of the health community in Western Australia and was a councillor at the Healthcare Association of Western Australia, the Australian Healthcare Association and the National Rural Health Alliance as well as serving as a member of the Rural Health Reference Group. In 1998 Judith was, unfortunately, diagnosed with breast cancer before a secondary diagnosis, which led to extensive chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment in Perth.

Judith was an active member of the Liberal Party and served as West Australian state executive member from 2000 until 2004. In 2004 she was elected to the Senate, having already beaten breast cancer once, and it was her real-life knowledge that she gifted to parliament and policymaking. The Prime Minister acknowledged that Senator Adams brought a depth and breadth of life experience to this place. Despite her illness, Judith's real Aussie spirit shone through and she did not let her condition get in the way of her being the best senator that she could be.

During her time in parliament she served as Deputy Opposition Whip. She vocally campaigned for better defence policies and improved health services for people living in rural and remote areas. She was also a strong advocate for Western Australia. Her colleague Senate Eric Abetz described Judith as an exemplar of grassroots politics. She always ensured that the best interests of her constituents were put first and stood up for their rights if she thought they were being hard done by. I know Judith's presence in the Senate is greatly missed and she is missed in the wider coalition as well. Judith will be remembered as a hard-working and dedicated senator for the people of Western Australia.

Finally, I would like to place on the public record the sentiments of my predecessor in this place, Kay Hull. Mrs Hull was the member for Riverina from 1998 until 2010 and one of Judith's coalition colleagues. 'She was a warm and wonderful friend,' Kay said just this morning. 'Judith made a significant contribution to the parliament and on behalf of Western Australia. She suffered significantly but did not complain; she just got on with the job.' Judith Adams, may you rest in peace.