Legislative Council: Tuesday, May 03, 2022



Members, New and Former

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Attorney-General, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector) (15:44): I seek leave to move a motion without notice expressing the thanks of the council to former members and to welcome new members.

Leave granted.

The Hon. K.J. MAHER: I move:

That this council expresses thanks to former members, the Hon. J.A. Darley, the Hon. J.S.L. Dawkins and the Hon. R.I. Lucas, and welcomes new members, the Hon. L.A. Curran, the Hon. S.L. Game and the Hon. R.B. Martin.

On behalf of the government, and indeed on behalf of this chamber, I would like to congratulate all the new members here who were elected at the recent state election and express our very sincere thanks for the contributions of those who have now left this chamber. I guess it is 'out with the old and in with new' so to speak, Mr President.

Before turning specifically to the retiring members and the new members, firstly I would like to congratulate you on your elevation to the chair. You have shown your ability to preside fairly over this chamber, keep some of the more unruly members under control—as I am sure you will continue to do—and protect poor government ministers who are only humbly trying to answer questions and inform the chamber about things.

As the old but again new Leader of the Government in this chamber, we will have our differences in here, and quite reasonably we will come to different issues with different perspectives and different views. I know nearly everyone that I have had the good fortune of knowing in both this place and another place wants the best for South Australia. Sometimes we have different ideas and different policies about how we might get there, but at the end of the day we are all here because we want to see South Australia prosper.

We want to leave a better place for the next generations, and I look forward to working with colleagues on this side and right across the chamber as we pursue doing that in our own ways. It has only been a few months since we last met in this chamber in February. I note that the other place decided not to meet at all this year. It cannot be said that we are not the hardest working of the two chambers of parliament, given recent history. I think if ever we hear that, we have a good defence to that now. They did not meet in February.

I would particularly like to note that when we last met in February, it was an opportunity for some of the retiring members to give their final speeches, their valedictory speeches, in this place. I would like to thank particularly the Hon. Russell Wortley for one of his valedictory speeches, which he delivered in February, noting the Hon. Russell Wortley was greeted back at Government House, where he had a retirement dinner not so long ago. It is quite a remarkable turn of events.

I would like particularly to pay respect to the three members who did not stand for election who were our colleagues last year and for many years before that. Firstly, the Hon. John Darley was a fine example of a member in this place. I did not agree with him personally on every single issue, but there were quite a few where I did agree with the Hon. John Darley. Particularly, there were many social issues where we had very similar views.

Even though we did not always agree, I never doubted that he came to his positions sincerely and after thoughtful consideration. There is one example of this I can remember from a speech he gave in the last parliament. It was quite remarkable to watch him rise on a matter of interest, where in his speech he said the words we very rarely hear from members of parliament. He said in his speech, 'I was wrong.' In that speech, he acknowledged that the views he had had in the past about climate change, he had come to conclude, were incorrect.

After reviewing the evidence and hearing the science, he now came to the conclusion that the climate was changing due to human activity. I think that was a mark of the way the Hon. John Darley went about his business in here. Even if he had held views, and held them strongly and firmly, in the past, upon hearing further evidence and considering it, he was able to change his mind and to be quite open about that.

The Hon. John Dawkins retired after, as he would say, 'a very long time in this place'. He would remind everyone else that they had similarly been here for 'a very long time in this place', even if it was their second year in the chamber, and they ought to know standing orders as well as he knew them. He was a long-serving member of this place and comes from a long family line of people who have given public service to their state. He certainly was passionate for regional communities, sponsoring for many years awards at the regional press association, and he certainly championed very worthy causes. His advocacy for reform of state surrogacy laws, which ultimately did see changes in the last parliament, is very well known.

The Hon. John Dawkins' absolute commitment to the cause of suicide prevention, for which I think most people came to greatly respect him, saw the passing of Australian-first suicide prevention legislation last year, largely as a result of the work the Hon. John Dawkins had done as the Premier's advocate for suicide prevention over a long period of time. He provided a lot of advice and encouragement for those people who, over 25 years, had brought voluntary assisted dying legislation before this house. I admired John Dawkins greatly for his commitment to the things he saw as important and things that were important for this state.

Finally, the Hon. Rob Lucas—it is exceptionally strange to be standing in this place without the Hon. Rob Lucas being present somewhere. I first started working for a minister in the Legislative Council probably 20 years ago this month, and Rob Lucas has been a constant fixture for those 20 years and for 19½ years before that. He has certainly earned his retirement. He is able now to attend to his ponies and drink muscats at dawn at the Adelaide Club without having to worry about coming to parliament at any given time.

I would also like to take this opportunity to welcome the new members who join us for the first time today. These three individuals come to us from different parts of the parliament—from the government, from the opposition and from the crossbench. I would particularly like to acknowledge those two new non-government members in this place. As I have said, while I am sure we will find ourselves expressing different views in some debates, one thing that has struck me since being a member here for 10 years now, and having worked for other MPs in this chamber starting 10 years before that, is that the way we conduct ourselves says very good things about this chamber.

Other members have remarked that we can fiercely debate with passion things in this chamber, but at the end of the day there are only 22 of us and if you cannot step outside here and get on with everyone in here you are not going to have a very happy working life, so that is something that I have always appreciated. For the new members, I would encourage you to strike up friendships not only on your own side but across the aisle. It is very rewarding.

I will mention the Hon. Laura Curran, a new member of this chamber, who joins us as our youngest member. She has just been pipped at the post as the very youngest member of parliament by the new member for Newland, I am told, but not by very much. It is a welcome injection of youth into this chamber, which, if you look at the Hon. Rob Lucas and the Hon. John Dawkins retiring, when I said 'out with the old and in with the new' it could not be more apt in these cases.

The Hon. Laura Curran, having worked for both the Hon. Rob Lucas and the Hon. Terry Stephens during her career, will certainly hit the ground running and I am sure will be making a name for herself in the not-too-distant future. Clearly, her colleagues agree. I congratulate her on her appointment in the opposition role of working on matters in the Attorney-General's portfolio.

One of the newest members of the crossbench is Sarah Game. The Hon. Sarah Game joins us after a nailbiting election result, waiting for that push of the button for those weeks and weeks after the election campaign to now be elected as the 10th out of 11 people elected, and I congratulate her on her election to this place. I look forward to working cooperatively with our newest member of the crossbench, finding common ground when we can and being respectful when we cannot.

The Hon. Reggie Martin—last but certainly not least, I congratulate my friend on his election to this chamber. Anything that anybody thinks the Hon. Reggie Martin has done very well, I will take the credit for, having served with him in ALP head office over many years. If anybody is concerned or disappointed in the Hon. Reggie Martin, that will have been the Hon. Tom Koutsantonis's influence almost exclusively.

I am glad to have the Hon. Reggie Martin as a member of our team. He has overseen many successful Labor election campaigns as campaign director, and I look forward to his contribution on this side of the chamber, taking his talents from electorate by electorate to debating policies and making change in South Australia.

In closing, I again congratulate all new members on their election. I look forward to working with everyone in here. It is an important job we do, but we can also get on well and have a little bit of fun as we do it.

The Hon. N.J. CENTOFANTI (Leader of the Opposition) (15:54): I rise on behalf of the opposition to thank the Leader of the Government in this chamber for moving this motion and to congratulate you, Mr President, on your election to the chair. On behalf of the opposition, we look forward to working with you throughout your term as President. We assure you of our willingness to cooperate and we thank you for accepting this esteemed and important office in this chamber. I am confident that you will keep us in order in this place by exercising fairness, impartiality and diligence, and I wish you well in your term.

It is with mixed emotions that I make this contribution. Whilst it is an exciting time in welcoming our new members, it is also a time of reflection on those members who no longer share this chamber with us. I would like to acknowledge the contributions made in this place by the Hon. Rob Lucas and the Hon. John Dawkins, both of whom voluntarily retired. I note the valedictory remarks made towards the end of the last session in this chamber, when members spoke about their contributions, so I will keep my comments somewhat brief.

I think many of you share my feelings when I say that this place feels somewhat strange today, and the Leader of the Government has also acknowledged that. It feels this way because for the first time in almost 40 years we are not sharing these red vinyl chairs with the Hon. Rob Lucas. It is difficult to imagine this parliament without him. He leaves a significant void, having been a member of parliament since 1982, the year that I was born. Indeed, several of us in this place, myself included, have not known a parliament without the Hon. Rob Lucas in it. It is a void that only a true legend can leave, and his leadership, knowledge and expertise will be sorely missed. I will certainly miss his calm, considered and collaborative approach to all matters we considered in this place.

I would like to also acknowledge his contributions as a minister in the Brown, Olsen, Kerin and Marshall governments. I congratulate him on his public service to both the Liberal Party and the community that he served, and recognise that he served with integrity, diligence and reliability. I would also like to just simply thank him for his kindness, support and enduring friendship.

I wish him well in his retirement as he enjoys time with his lovely wife Marie, his children and his grandchildren. As a long-suffering St Kilda and West Adelaide Football Club supporter, he now has plenty of time to enjoy watching their games live, although he is probably enjoying watching the Saints a little more than the Bloods so far in season 2022, except perhaps for Saturday night's game against Port Adelaide.

The Hon. John Dawkins served in this place for 24 years, and I congratulate him on his service, particularly his strong and passionate contribution to suicide prevention. He was the inaugural chair of the suicide prevention council and a key proponent of the Suicide Prevention Bill. I am sure his passion and advocacy will not wane in his retirement.

John was always very encouraging of me putting up my hand to serve in the Legislative Council, as I know he was with others on our team, and this is something that I will never forget. When you are considering making the leap into parliament, the words of encouragement that people give you during that time stay with you, and John's words have certainly stayed with me during my time in this place. I wish John and Sheila all the best for the future.

I also note the retirement of the Hon. John Darley. The Hon. John Darley is someone I am fortunate enough to have served with on a number of committees. In fact, I developed a bit of an appreciation of the intricacies of the Valuation of Land Act 1971 whilst serving with the Hon. John Darley, and I have to say that his questioning of the Office of the Valuer-General always made for interesting listening.

I found him to be incredibly knowledgeable and approachable at all times. He is someone who is deeply committed to the people of South Australia and will be very missed from this place. I thank him for his service in the Legislative Council and to the community, and extend my best wishes to him and his family for the future.

Finally, the Hon. Russell Wortley. It was only a few short months ago that we were in this place acknowledging his 24-year career in parliament, noting his service to the chamber, including his service as President and his service to the Labor Party. There were many recognitions of his strong character, his fair and reasonable manner and his always having the best interests of the people he represented at heart. We wished him a long and happy retirement.

I would like to echo those comments today and, as I turn to welcome the new members to the Legislative Council, I would like to start with a warm welcome to the Hon. Russell Wortley: welcome back and I hope you enjoyed your very brief retirement! In all seriousness, however, it is a time of renewal and change in this place and I do extend a very warm welcome to the new members of the Legislative Council.

It is a privilege and a great honour to serve in this place. Every member in here today has enjoyed the thrill of being elected and then the thrill of sitting in the Legislative Council chamber for the first time and enjoying that moment. I wish all new members well in terms of your contributions to the chamber. Serve with honour, dignity and diligence.

Some of the new members, like the Hon. Laura Curran, I know well and I am confident that Laura will be a fearless advocate for all South Australians and I look forward to working with her over the coming term. Laura has had more life experience in her short life than most people have had in a lifetime and I have no doubt that she will bring strength of character and diversity to this chamber.

Whilst I do not know the other new members as well, in the Hon. Sarah Game and the Hon. Reggie Martin, I look forward to having the opportunity to get to know you both very well over the next term. In closing, to all of those continuing members, I wish you all well in terms of the contributions that you will make to this chamber.

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS (16:02): Thank you, Mr President, and I congratulate you on your elevation to the role. I just wanted to rise very briefly on behalf of the Greens to support the motion and to join in the sentiments of all the speakers in congratulating and welcoming the new members to this parliament. Might I, in particular, reflect on the remarkable achievement of the Hon. Ms Curran. To be elected at 25 is a real achievement and I congratulate you on that.

I also want to recognise the contributions of the departing members, the Hon. Rob Lucas, the Hon. John Darley and the Hon. John Dawkins, all of whom have been long-serving members of this chamber and who have made enormous contributions over many years. Watching the events that have occurred over the last few hours today, it really is time to reflect on how lucky we are to live in a democracy where we can have a peaceful transfer of power and where we can treat each other with respect and adhere to those important democratic traditions.

I wish all members well for this term of parliament on behalf of the Greens, and might I also reflect on the incredible achievement of the Hon. Russell Wortley. He has had more farewells than John Farnham, but he is here again and I wish him all the best.

Motion carried.