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Senator the Hon Kay Patterson.

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As indicated in her statement the Minister for Family and Community Services, Senator Kay Patterson, told me yesterday that she intended to resign from the Ministry.

I express my deep gratitude to Senator Patterson for the huge contribution she has made as a member of the Cabinet over the past four years. She is a wonderful colleague, high in the esteem of all of us.

Senator Patterson has been a fine and compassionate minister, successively in the portfolios of Health and Ageing and Family and Community Services.

She has worked diligently and successfully to promote better family and social policy. The professional background which she brought to the two portfolios she served in was of particular value.

Senator Patterson had a special concern for the disabled in our community. Amongst the many reforms, for which she was responsible, was a recent decision by the Government to make it easier and less costly for trusts to be established to support disabled people.

She also led, on behalf of the Commonwealth, the renegotiation of the Australian Health Care agreements, which have placed Commonwealth/State financial and administrative arrangements for public hospitals on a much sounder footing.

Senator Patterson’s frontbench work also included valuable periods as Parliamentary Secretary in the portfolios of Immigration and Foreign Affairs and Trade.

She is a good humoured person whose contributions around the Cabinet table will be greatly missed.

I speak for all of my Coalition colleagues in thanking Senator Kay Patterson and paying tribute for her ministerial achievements. I know that she will continue, energetically, to represent the people of Victoria in the Senate during the remainder of her term.

22 January 2006