I rise on behalf of the Coalition to briefly respond to the final speech from Senator Crossin.
As we know, Trish has been a Territorian, as we call it. To achieve that, you actually have to live in the Territory for some 30 years.
As she has indicated, she was the first woman to come to federal parliament from the Northern Territory and the first to come to the Senate.
If you want to know something about a parliamentarian, you can go to Google and find their maiden speech. I did that.
But Trish and I—and I will relate this in a moment—had quite an interesting relationship on the way here.
I remember how impressed I was, when I read her first speech, that she was the first to use Yolngu Matha in this place.
She made a public undertaking to the people of not only her home town at that stage of Yirrkala but also North-East Arnhem Land, saying
among other things, in Yolngu Matha, that she would work hard to represent them and continue to respect and acknowledge their rights.
If you look back you will find that wherever Senator Crossin has gone she has done just that. Good on you, mate.
Senator Crossin is currently the chair of the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee.
I think it is reasonable to say that she has had a brilliant career in her work through the committee processes of this place.
A lot of people think that this place is all about the theatre of this chamber, but a lot of the work of the Senate and of the parliament is
actually conducted through the committee process.
It is a really important process in ensuring that we get the legislation right. Trish, you have done an absolutely unbelievable job in that regard.
They say that the world is run by the people who turn up. That is something I live by and I can recall that, wherever I was, Trish was turning up.
As a parliamentarian, as a politician, it was terrific, particularly in the Territory. You are out and it had rained lightly in the morning and you
are screaming down a dirt road: ‘There hasn’t been anyone here. Great! Labor aren’t here. I can just go and talk to them on my own.’
You would scream into a place, the dust would settle, you would get out and say: ‘How are you going?’ They would say, ‘Hi, Nigel. Get up here,’ and I
would go over and they would say, ‘Trish is here. Come on!’ Fair dinkum! Off we would go: ‘Hi, Trish, how’s it going? What are you doing here?’
We would glare at each other and sit down with the community and jointly listen. I do not think many of the communities actually understand a lot of the differences and nuances in parliament. They think we are both to blame for everything and we are both trying to take the credit for everything.
Those are some of recollections of Trish; she was just everywhere.
We share a passion for the Territory, we are the same age and we share the same address, seat 1A, on the way down from Darwin to Canberra.
I have to reflect on the difficulties, which I appreciate, of how far away you have been from the mob up there behind
me in the gallery—it is terrific to see them all here.
I remember one of the first times I met Trish on the hustings. There was a meeting on a radio station where Trish was flogging me for being
an idiot—and I was. I was actually such an idiot. I was on the way home from England trying to get rid of my British passport.
I had done everything except drop-kick a corgi. I had managed to get home just in time after having gone through that process, for those who can
remember. Trish was explaining what an idiot I was, and I managed to get in there in time. On the radio, she checked mine and read it out
saying, ‘Yeah, I suppose that’ll pass.’ That was the start of a great relationship.
The next time I met Trish I was annoyed in the morning. It was typical of an Aboriginal community:
we had to go hunting. I said, ‘It’s supposed to be election day today. Oh, all right.’ Off we went. It was fairly standard.
We were in a white Falcon station wagon.
Part of the suspension on the front had gone. It had never been registered, I suspect. The results of the morning’s hunt were on the roof and there
was claret running down onto the windscreen. Perhaps they had not knocked all the chips off me—I was dressed in a Hawaiian shirt.
I said goodbye to my mates and stepped out and there was Trish. Straightaway—she was supposed to be my mortal opposition, and I was not
really sure what was supposed to happen—she came over and said, ‘Nige, how are you, mate? Good to meet you. Come on, I’ll show you around.’
I think the relationship has stayed pretty much that way. I often think we in the Territory are very different.
There are only two senators in the Territory, so there really is an obligation to work together. We have been very close colleagues and have worked
We have worked together on both sides; we have worked together when I was in government and when Trish has been in government. I think that any future Territorians who are considering this place will find that such a relationship is an essential part of getting things done for Territorians.
The circumstances under which you leave this place are going to be more controversial and annoying than Amanda Vanstone, although I know that everybody here was mightily impressed. I have to reflect again that my personal view is that I do not understand it.
I do not think many of us will understand. Maybe in their memoirs someone will throw some light on the fact that we have an Aboriginal woman—a traditional woman—who has spent 10 years as a Labor minister in the Northern Territory and we have Trish, who has spent 15 years as an outstanding senator, both standing for preselection in quite a reasonable preselection process.
Trish was sharing with me that she was a bit nervous because Marion Scrymgeour is a very, very good candidate.
Then I saw Trish in Sydney.
It was very distressing. Out of the blue these things had happened. It was really a reflection on the Prime Minister’s judgment.
I say that not in a political sense. It is a great sadness to me.
It is sad that Kevin still is not here at this stage. I am not sure about the machinations of the next week and I do not wish to pour any porridge on your day—
Various senators: Don’t mention the war!
Yes, don’t mention the war!
But, Kevin, if you are listening and you are going to do something, there is still time to undo a great wrong. On
behalf of the coalition and the Territory, Trish: thank you.
Download media release:
130618 hansard Crossin farewell response.pdf