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Thursday, 7 December 2017
Page: 10168

Senator DI NATALE (VictoriaLeader of the Australian Greens) (19:40): by leave—Firstly, let me again acknowledge the Leader of the Government in the Senate, Senator Brandis, and the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, Senator Wong. I know we had a discussion about the pronunciation of my name, so we'll take it one step at a time.

Senator Whish-Wilson interjecting

Senator DI NATALE: Thank you for that, Senator Whish-Wilson—I did know Senator Whish-Wilson had planned that by the way—but it's actually 'Di Na-ta-leh'. It is actually somewhere in between—I'm messing with you now.

Honourable senators interjecting

Senator DI NATALE: I suppose I was taking you through it stepwise, so I took you a little closer to the correct pronunciation. The actual pronunciation is 'Di Na-ta-leh', but I will let you get away with 'Di Na-ta-lee'. The anglicised version is okay.

Mr President, I want to thank you for the important work that you've done in a relatively short period of time. I think your job is a bit like a football umpire: the best ones go unnoticed. You, so far, have gone relatively unnoticed, intervening when you need to. It's a tough gig, a very tough gig, and we make your life pretty difficult. I know Senator Hinch is constantly reminding us of our behaviour—and I think you're right to do that, Senator Hinch.

Senator Hinch interjecting

Senator DI NATALE: We do occasionally make life hard for Senator Hinch, and we'll try to lift our game next year.

Let me thank all of the Senate staff—Richard Pye and all of the team: you do a remarkable job. You've had very big shoes to fill, Richard, and you've done it nobly. You're carrying on a very fine tradition. So thank you for all of your hard work: it's very much valued.

And of course all the Senate staff, the attendants and so on—we often rush through the doors with the occasional nod and hello, but we thank you so much for all of the work you do. It's thankless. I know you're in here before us and you'll be out of here long after we leave. Thanks for keeping our desks tidy, our glasses full, the doors open and a smile on your faces. So thank you for all the work that you all do.

Let me thank the Comcar drivers, the security staff, the cleaners and DPS for all of the services that you provide. I won't go on, but we share your concern, Senator Wong. When you're here bright and early and you know that people have been here overnight working hard, we do hope that their work is valued.

I want to thank my team and my colleagues. It's been a bloody tough year, a really tough year. We had some big changes. We lost Scott and Larissa. They were really outstanding parliamentarians and, more importantly, just wonderful people. They were a huge support to me as deputies, and I wish them well in their future endeavours. I want to thank Adam and Rachel for filling their shoes—thank you—and Rachel obviously, as whip, I think, is the best whip in the Senate, but of course I'm biased. Thank you for the great work you do, but to all of my team: you've done a great job.

One of the good things of course is that we got to welcome two new people. We finally had our Democrats moment—people have been warning about that for a long time—with the arrival of Andrew. So thank you for—

Senator Bartlett: It was better than you thought it would be!

Senator DI NATALE: It was a much more pleasant moment, that's right—and of course Jordon, who is not here with us, but—

Senator SIEWERT: He's off partying.

Senator DI NATALE: He probably is off partying—well he's 23, so he can afford to do that. But Jordon is a force of nature. I've had casual conversations with people and I'm sure, at some point, a 50-year-old will emerge out of that body, because he's wise beyond his years. He will make a great contribution to this place, and watching that ramp being installed in here was one of the proudest moments that I've had in the Senate.

I want to thank all of the staff in my office. It's a tough gig. The pressure is intense. We've always got more work than we've got people, but I want to thank each and every one of you for all of the work that you do. It is very much valued. Thanks to my team—they've done a great job—and of course to all the staff in every other office. I know how hard they work. I know how much commitment they have. They're passionate. They do it for love and because they believe in all of the things that we're fighting for. So please thank all of them. We couldn't function without them.

I want to thank my family. Senator Wong was absolutely right: they make a huge sacrifice. My wife, Lucy, I know, has endured a lot, and I want to thank her specifically. I thank my two boys, Luca and Ben. I missed Ben's birthday yesterday. It's just one of those moments—he tells you what a wonderful day he's had and all of the presents he got at school, and you're not there. It is the sacrifice that many of us in this chamber make. I can't wait to go back and give them a big cuddle—probably not tonight but at least tomorrow and hopefully some time over Christmas. They are the reason I do this job.

And, of course, what a great day to finish the year on! What a great day. It's often very bleak in this place. It's a place where you can sometimes wonder about the choices you've made in life, but today those choices are affirmed. The country is a better place because of the decision this parliament made, not just for us, not just for our kids, but for future generations. It's a remarkable day. We have finally got marriage equality in law and we can now go and celebrate. The nation has taken a huge step forward. I'm so proud of the parliament and I'm so proud of the country.

Let me just finish by signing off, as I do each year. For the benefit of some of the members on my left: have a happy non-denominational, gender-neutral, environmentally sustainable and socially responsible holiday! We don't like using the word 'Christmas'! Perhaps as a tribute to the difficulties we've had through the dual citizenship fiasco that has unfolded this year, let me say Buon Natale a tutti! Happy Christmas, everyone!