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Tuesday, 8 May 2018
Page: 2564

Senator BUSHBY (TasmaniaChief Government Whip in the Senate) (16:36): I also rise to support the motion on the passing and the legacy of the Hon. Jocelyn Margaret Newman, AO, an outstanding and passionate representative in Canberra for all Tasmanians, an eminently capable federal cabinet minister and, above all, a wonderfully compassionate and caring human being.

I follow two of my fellow Tasmanian Liberal senators who have also paid tribute to Jocelyn—Senators Abetz and Colbeck. The three of us all knew her well. I don't believe that Senator Duniam, who is also present, knew her personally, but he has requested that he be associated with the remarks of his fellow Tasmanian senators.

Jocelyn's career as a Tasmanian senator spanned 16 years. During this time she enjoyed some remarkable achievements, serving as the Minister for Social Security from 1996 to 1998 and as Minister for Family and Community Services from 1998 to 2001, both under Prime Minister John Howard. Indeed, for much of that time she was the most senior woman in the Howard government and, if my memory serves me well, the most senior female in any federal government to that time.

Much has been said today of Jocelyn's achievements during that time, but I do note and repeat that, amongst other things, she oversaw the introduction of the family tax package and reforms to child support legislation; she introduced measures to combat domestic violence and to assist victims; and she took particular pride in introducing progressive amendments to the youth allowance. Then Senator Newman also expressed her determination to reduce welfare dependency, to eradicate rorters and to improve children's futures by working to keep families together.

One does not achieve the kinds of results and outcomes as those delivered by Jocelyn in her time in this place without also possessing, as has already been suitably acknowledged, formidability, intelligence, courage and wit, all of which Jocelyn held in spades. In 2005, as we've also heard, she was made an Officer of the Order of Australia for her service to the community through contributions to the development of government policies in relation to social security reform, as an advocate for women's issues—particularly in the health and welfare areas—and as a supporter of local organisations in Tasmania.

Jocelyn's views on the status of women were linked to her belief in the importance of personal responsibility, and she believed in equal opportunity rather than affirmative action. This, I think, encapsulates not only Jocelyn's immense contributions to the Tasmanian community but also her approach to decision-making here in Canberra. I recall her on many occasions making the observation that Liberal governments should constantly refer to our party's 'We believe' statement and filter all decisions made through the principles that it contains, as these beliefs underpin all that good government should entail. I even recall her stating that this statement should be on the wall of all Liberal decision-makers.

Her approach to decision-making certainly reflected her advice. As a champion of social security reform and an advocate for women's issues, she possessed the strength, compassion and empathy needed to deliver the reform that was necessary to the delivery of services to those who needed them most whilst ensuring the integrity of government programs designed to do just that. In accordance with Jocelyn's advice on the Liberal 'We believe' statement, she strongly supported the notions of individual agency, free thought and free action and the notion that, with enough hard work, the right attitude and support from those you love dearly, you will overcome and you will succeed.

I had the great privilege of working as a member of Jocelyn's staff for a time before her retirement and serving for a number of years with her, and also with Senator Colbeck, on the Liberal Party state executive. Through both roles, I was honoured to receive the benefit of her advice, experience and wisdom. Jocelyn was a mentor who I immensely respected, who, in some ways, I was in awe of and to whom I have no hesitation in paying my highest respects. I'm sure that my Tasmanian Liberal colleagues in the Senate today would agree that they all learnt much from Jocelyn—except maybe Senator Duniam directly, although I suspect he's probably learnt a bit from her legacy—and that we're all better people for having known her. Indeed, Australia is a better place for her service. Jocelyn will be dearly missed. I send my best thoughts to her children, Campbell and Kate, and her grandchildren, not just in sadness for her passing but in gratitude for a life well and truly lived with extraordinary commitment, compassion and service.