Senator FIFIELD (Victoria-Manager of Opposition Business in the Senate) (18:05):
I want to speak briefly about my three departing colleagues. Senator Barnett might not remember this, but we first met in about 1988 or 1989 on a spiritual retreat which had been organised by our mutual good friend Ross Cameron, who was in the gallery earlier today. At the time I was a callow youth, just a young party member, and Guy was a very senior member of the Tasmanian division. I was very impressed with Guy’s wisdom and with the integrity that he had and maintains. It was a real delight in the years ahead when I got to work with Guy as a Howard government staffer and then as a colleague.
Senator Barnett has been a good and faithful servant of his state, his party and the nation. I have particularly valued and appreciated his passion and commitment from a portfolio perspective in the voluntary sector. He has had a lot of great policy ideas and I look forward to trying to execute some of those in the years ahead. He has been a thorough, diligent and effective colleague, as Senator Brandis has so eloquently said, and I will certainly miss his contribution in this place. But, Guy, we will certainly stay in touch.
I turn now to Senator Troeth, who has faithfully served my state of Victoria. Senator Troeth is one of two colleagues in this place around whom I always feel that I have to enunciate correctly. Around Senator Troeth and Senator Payne I am always very aware that I should make sure that my elocution is correct. Senator Troeth is the sort of person who is always proper. Senator Troeth has, as they say, a great backstory. She has always been a robust contributor in this place. With her, I took particular delight in the election of Russell Broadbent; we both made a particular contribution in that vein, and that was a great time. As has been commented on already, Senator Troeth is independent of mind. She has done something which I also have done in this place, and that is to move to the other side of the chamber, or ‘cross the floor’, as it is put. I might not have agreed with Senator Troeth in the exercise of that right, and she would not have agreed with my exercise of it in relation to the ETS debate; nevertheless, I always respected her right to do so. It is a right which our party jealously guards, and I think that is an important distinction between this side of the chamber and the other. I certainly wish Judith well in the years ahead.
I do particularly, however, want to make comment onSenator Professor Dr Russell Trood. I do not think thatis the longest title that anyone in this place has ever had; I think that honour goes to Senator the Hon. Dr Kay Patterson. But both are indeed distinguished. Senator Trood and I were bench buddies for many years. In fact, when I first came into this place, shortly before Senator Trood, I was sitting on my own. Russell was my first bench buddy. You do tend to move around this chamber from time to time, but whenever there was a need to change seating arrangements in this place, Russell Trood and I said that we were happy to sit anywhere in the chamber as long as we were sitting next to each other-that is no reflection on our colleagues, but it certainly served us well. Those years that I had the privilege of sharing the bench with Russell I will remember very fondly. Russell is the very model of a senator. He is the senator from central casting. He is thoughtful, deliberative and widely read. He has a passion for good policy. He is curious, inquiring and independent of mind. Senator
Trood is-and I think this is the highest tribute that I can pay to a colleague-one of the substantial figures of the Australian Senate. It is my hope that Russell’s absence from this place will, in line with his academic heritage, prove to be a mere sabbatical. Senator Trood -Russell-we will see you soon, my friend.