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Thursday, 30 November 2017
Page: 9389

Senator JACINTA COLLINS (Victoria) (16:33): I too would like to join in the condolences to Steve's family at his loss. I feel for the loss of Natalie and Xavier and his family because I know the loss we have had in this place. I was in the Senate when Steve joined us here. I didn't know him well from his New South Wales Labor Party days, but he became a very close friend in this place. I regret the lack of opportunity to see more of him since he moved to Melbourne and I regret the inopportunity to attend the funeral yesterday.

'Juanita' was Steve's term for me. It was a very affectionate name. For some reason or another, he did not ever impose on me the trials that he did on some colleagues. Steve loved—

Senator Bilyk interjecting

Senator JACINTA COLLINS: No, Senator Bilyk, I did sit next to him on many occasions. He loved a good lark, whether it was removing people's notes, pulling on their skirt as they were asking a question or any of those types of things. For some reason, Steve decided to leave me free of those types of larks. We had a very affectionate relationship.

Steve was a strong supporter. I would hear debates about internal opportunities within the Labor Party fed back to me and, interestingly, Steve would be sitting on one side saying, 'No, no, Jacinta's going to win.' It would surprise many people that the caricature of Steve Hutchins was as a hard New South Wales Labor man. He could form relationships that were well beyond that caricature. As Senator Brandis said, he was a gentle man. His respect for people went well beyond what most people would assume. Steve worked not only to support Natalie in the Victorian parliament but also worked with St Vincent de Paul—badgering people like me to make a contribution to assist—and yet he still caught up with colleagues for many years.

People have referred to the Holy Grail as Steve's favourite watering hole here. There was many a night that Mark Bishop and I would share many hours with Steve, mostly assisting Mark Bishop deal with the time difference from Western Australia but also debating the politics of the day.

Senator Bilyk interjecting

Senator JACINTA COLLINS: Yes, fortunately those days were in opposition and the responsibilities that we carried weren't quite the same as when we moved into government. Steve, as Senator Farrell has highlighted, made an enormous contribution to this place and to the Labor movement more broadly. I hope his legend in this place lives on in terms of more progress in the many issues he worked on.