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Wednesday, 9 November 2016
Page: 3442


Mr ALEXANDER (Bennelong) (10:27): Today I rise to talk about friendship. Nearly seven years ago, my mother rang me rather early, at about 5.30 in the morning, with an incredulous tone in her voice about a ridiculous news report that I was going to enter politics. There was much laughter at this prospect, which was immediately transformed into unwavering support. This mother's love for her children had no boundaries.

A year earlier, while I endured a contest not just at White City, which I was quite familiar with, but for White City, a young man between jobs came to work with me, running the pro shop. He was responsible for handling the cash and the members, some of whom could be most challenging. Josh upgraded our practices to ensure the safe handling of cash, which provided verification, and I observed his diplomatic but firm manner in dealing with certain members. At times he was touched with the wisdom of Solomon. The High Court gave us victory over our adversary, but the centre court was not ours. Josh asked if I would have a game with him and his girlfriend, Karen—quite serious, as he often was—and we played. The score at the start of a tennis game is love all. Karen, shortly after, accepted Josh's proposal. Josh went back into corporate life, and I was left contemplating my next career move.

Later that morning, after my mother's early call, Josh called and said there was something I did not know of him. He confessed that his first love was politics and that he wanted to be my campaign manager for preselection. I did not disclose to him that I did not know what preselection was. He called friends Bill Gough and Craig Brown, and we met at a pub the following night for a discussion. Bill was a fervent conservative and a great legal mind. Craig was a marketing genius—and everyone knows how marketers overstate things. We went to work on our campaign to win preselection for Bradfield, and I now knew what preselection was. I did not win it.

During this process I met with John Howard. Josh's advice was that, if I were unsuccessful in Bradfield, and if John were to suggest that I should run for Bennelong, I should under no circumstances accept that. I met with John. He was incredibly frank. He told me I would not win Bradfield but, in that event, would I contest Bennelong? I agreed. I did not always accept Josh's advice. Josh and John moved onto Bennelong. It was a great trip. Our bond of trust and respect grew. I went to Karen and Josh's wedding and the next day we travelled to Canberra without Karen, for our first week of sitting. Josh is now my senior adviser. Unfortunately I am running out of time, but Josh has moved on. Josh has taken a job with Pfizer—they are lucky—and our friendship will endure.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Ms Bird ): I understand it is the wish of the chamber that constituency statements continue for a further period of 30 minutes. There being no objections, the chair will allow that course to be taken.