Senator FIFIELD (Victoria-Manager of Opposition Business in the Senate) (15:35):
Judith Adams was one of those people you appreciated more and more as time passed. There are many people for whom familiarity diminishes your view of them. Judith certainly was not one of those. She had a depth and a breadth and also an underappreciated mischievousness, and cheekiness as well. By the time she entered the Senate she already had a lifetime of achievement with the New Zealand territorial army, as a nurse, and as a mother, a pastoralist, a horse breeder and a horse trainer. Few have brought more life experience to this place than Judith, which is probably why she was such a great judge of character. She could sum up people pretty quickly and no-one could hide from Judith the stuff of which they were made.
She was possessed of a formidable work ethic, but she was also very wise. That wisdom found great expression through the Community Affairs Committee and through her role as whip. She could always be relied upon. That wisdom and the pastoral interest she took in others made her a favourite among coalition staff. Many of our staff were especially fond of her, and there is much sadness mongst the ranks of coalition staff about Judith’s passing.
We are all aware of one of her great passions, which was the Australian Defence Force and its service personnel. This was brought home to me again on Anzac Day this year. I was attending a ceremony in Dandenong and a senior ADF officer came up to me and asked whether I served in the Senate. I said I did, and he said, ‘You must know my great mate Judith Adams’. This was a couple of weeks after Judith’s funeral, and so I said, ‘I do, but I am sorry to tell you that Judith died very recently’. This Defence Force officer was genuinely taken aback. He had not heard the news. The first thing he said was, ‘Please tell me that there was a formal ADF representation at the funeral’, and I was able to assure him that there was and that the ADF was very well represented. That instance showed the impact that Judith had had on the ADF and its personnel. She was seen as one of them and she was held in very high regard by them.
It was a great privilege to attend Judith’s memorial service. It was a terrific celebration of a great life. It is appropriate that we do pause for a moment to acknowledge Judith’s staff, the most visible of whom in this place was Trish. All of our staff show to us a commitment, both personal and professional, that goes beyond that which you find in most other occupations. Judith’s staff went even further-and they did so willingly. They too have lost a friend, and they have lost someone that they cared for very much. Those of us who have lost parents would all understand that, no matter what age our parents are, when they die it is always too early. Judith’s sons, Stuart and Robert, are experiencing that at the moment, but they should be very proud of their mum. She was a great woman. I will miss her, as will all her colleagues.