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Tuesday, 8 May 2018
Page: 2560

Senator PAYNE (New South WalesMinister for Defence) (16:14): It is indeed an honour to join with colleagues this afternoon in paying tribute on this condolence motion to our former colleague Jocelyn Newman, with whom I also had the great pleasure and honour of serving between 1997 and 2002, as Senator Bartlett has observed. Jocelyn Newman was a fine role model and colleague for me, as a then very new senator in 1997, and for many others. I still have the letter she wrote to me that year on the day of my first speech. I valued her feedback and her advice enormously. She was, as anyone who sat with her around the cabinet table or in committee or engaged with her in this chamber will tell you—and as I think colleagues have adverted to in their remarks—a formidable interlocutor. She was smart, quick, witty, determined and immensely focused on the task at hand. In fact she had the most powerful blue-eyed focus I can ever recall, long before that was a thing.

I first met Jocelyn in about 1989 when I was an adviser to the then opposition leader in the Senate, Senator the Hon. Robert Hill. She was the shadow minister for defence science and personnel—speaking of formidable, the then Senator the Hon. Peter Durack was the shadow minister for defence. She was phenomenally committed to her shadow role of defence science and personnel. I learned a great deal from her in that time, which I would like to say—starting with that role of hers and the one she took subsequently—has stood me in very good stead in recent years. But her true passion for matters defence came to the fore as the shadow minister for defence for the coalition between 1994 and 1996. I think it's fair to say that Prime Minister Howard was very honest indeed when he noted at her state funeral that he ultimately knew how much he had disappointed her when he did not make her the Minister for Defence after the 1996 election. The mark of the woman, however, was that notwithstanding that disappointment she took to the ministerial role she was given by Prime Minister Howard in 1996 with enormous application and, as others have reflected, was a true reformer no matter your view or perspective on the reforms that she pursued on behalf of the Howard government. She was a true reformer of the delivery of social services in this country.

She was indeed an exceptionally diligent minister: highly regarded, as others have said, by her departments and by her colleagues. She was also a member of a fabulous team of Liberal Senate women at the time of—it's invidious to start naming names, as I don't want to leave anybody out—then Senator Margaret Reid, then Senator Sue Knowles, then Senator Kay Patterson, who were all able to attend her state funeral, and then Senator Amanda Vanstone. For people like me who had joined the team relatively late in those relationships, it was a real thing to watch. They were an extremely strong and powerful team and a great pleasure to have as friends and colleagues.

Jocelyn was, as everyone has observed and as I know her Tasmanian friends and colleagues will go on to say in greater detail, a passionate Tasmanian. She was also passionate about the role and position of women in Australian society and, in fact, the world. She was particularly passionate, though, about the men and women of the ADF and their families, and she earned their everlasting respect; indeed, the Federation Guard were her pallbearers. Reflected in the extremely moving service that was held for her, the state funeral at the Anzac Memorial Chapel of St Paul at the Royal Military College, was that commitment to the men and women of the ADF and their families—in my humble opinion, taken by her not just because of her own service experience but because of her absolute passion for the men and women who served and those who support them much more broadly.

I acknowledge the very many beautiful words that were said on that day by so many in a service led by the Reverend Sarah Gibson, the senior chaplain at RMC Army—beautiful words of a life so well lived and of great service to our nation and to her state. She was a leader of Liberal women and a much-loved mother and grandmother. I acknowledge her family: Campbell and Kate, their spouses and her grandchildren. I acknowledge her granddaughters Rebecca and Emma, who spoke so lovingly of their grandmother. It's hard to know the difficulties of living with and losing someone to dementia. They painted a beautiful and powerful picture. All the Liberal women who follow in Jocelyn Newman's footsteps owe her an enormous debt.