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Wednesday, 24 March 2021
Page: 59

Mr McCORMACK (RiverinaDeputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development and Leader of the Nationals) (15:35): on indulgence—Christopher Patrick Hayes—I can say that without actually referencing his electorate, but I will: Fowler—is a good De La Salle boy! He's had his road to Damascus moment and he's coming to regional Australia! It's fantastic that you are. It's fantastic that you're going to see the light and spend more time in the country. We need good people in regional Australia just like you, Chris.

Just picture this: at a suburban cricket ground in Canberra, Chris and I opened the batting against the pesky fourth estate, the press gallery. We were as one. We had a formidable opening partnership. There we were, Chris and I, none for eight after nine overs. The member for Hume and the member for Moreton were yelling out, 'Run, run.' I'm not so sure whether they were yelling for Chris to run me out or for me to run Chris out! But we batted on—struggled on, I should say—for a few more overs, and then both of us ended up getting out and sharing a moment back at the pavilion. Chris then went out afterwards and wicket kept for the full 40 or so overs. That bloke is a dynamo.

He never gives in and he never lets much past either—but he certainly did when he fell off his motorbike. I can't believe that you're going riding again in regional Australia this weekend. Bernadette, you might have to sort him out. My wife, Catherine, said to me when she first met Bernadette, 'She's a lovely person.' I said, 'If you think she's a lovely person, you should meet her husband.' You are a great bloke. The National Party pays every due respect that you deserve and that you've earned. You have been a mentor, a friend, a true patriot to all of us. On behalf of the National Party, we wish you and Bernadette all the very best for the future.