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Wednesday, 15 June 2011
Page: 2919

Senator FIFIELD (VictoriaManager of Opposition Business in the Senate) (18:05): I want to speak briefly about my three departing colleagues. Senator Barnett might not remember this, but we first met in about 1988 or 1989 on a spiritual retreat which had been organised by our mutual good friend Ross Cameron, who was in the gallery earlier today. At the time I was a callow youth, just a young party member, and Guy was a very senior member of the Tasmanian division. I was very impressed with Guy's wisdom and with the integrity that he had and maintains. It was a real delight in the years ahead when I got to work with Guy as a Howard government staffer and then as a colleague.

Senator Barnett has been a good and faithful servant of his state, his party and the nation. I have particularly valued and appreciated his passion and commitment from a portfolio perspective in the voluntary sector. He has had a lot of great policy ideas and I look forward to trying to execute some of those in the years ahead. He has been a thorough, diligent and effective colleague, as Senator Brandis has so eloquently said, and I will certainly miss his contribution in this place. But, Guy, we will certainly stay in touch.

I turn now to Senator Troeth, who has faithfully served my state of Victoria. Senator Troeth is one of two colleagues in this place around whom I always feel that I have to enunciate correctly. Around Senator Troeth and Senator Payne I am always very aware that I should make sure that my elocution is correct. Senator Troeth is the sort of person who is always proper. Senator Troeth has, as they say, a great backstory. She has always been a robust contributor in this place. With her, I took particular delight in the election of Russell Broadbent; we both made a particular contribution in that vein, and that was a great time.

As has been commented on already, Senator Troeth is independent of mind. She has done something which I also have done in this place, and that is to move to the other side of the chamber, or 'cross the floor', as it is put. I might not have agreed with Senator Troeth in the exercise of that right, and she would not have agreed with my exercise of it in relation to the ETS debate; nevertheless, I always respected her right to do so. It is a right which our party jealously guards, and I think that is an important distinction between this side of the chamber and the other. I certainly wish Judith well in the years ahead.

I do particularly, however, want to make comment on Senator Professor Dr Russell Trood. I do not think that is the longest title that anyone in this place has ever had; I think that honour goes to Senator the Hon. Dr Kay Patterson. But both are indeed distinguished. Senator Trood and I were bench buddies for many years. In fact, when I first came into this place, shortly before Senator Trood, I was sitting on my own. Russell was my first bench buddy. You do tend to move around this chamber from time to time, but whenever there was a need to change seating arrangements in this place, Russell Trood and I said that we were happy to sit anywhere in the chamber as long as we were sitting next to each other—that is no reflection on our colleagues, but it certainly served us well. Those years that I had the privilege of sharing the bench with Russell I will remember very fondly.

Russell is the very model of a senator. He is the senator from central casting. He is thoughtful, deliberative and widely read. He has a passion for good policy. He is curious, inquiring and independent of mind. Senator Trood is—and I think this is the highest tribute that I can pay to a colleague—one of the substantial figures of the Australian Senate. It is my hope that Russell's absence from this place will, in line with his academic heritage, prove to be a mere sabbatical. Senator Trood—Russell—we will see you soon, my friend.