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Members, New and Former

The Hon. R.I. LUCAS (Treasurer) (15:36): 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. R.I. LUCAS: I move:

That this council expresses thanks to former members, the Hon. R.L. Brokenshire, the Hon. G.E. Gago, the Hon. J.M. Gazzola, the Hon. P.B. Malinauskas and the Hon. K.L. Vincent, and welcomes new members, the Hon. C. Bonaros, the Hon. E.S. Bourke, the Hon. F. Pangallo, the Hon. I. Pnevmatikos and the Hon. C.M. Scriven.

In speaking to this motion of expressing thanks to former members I note, particularly for continuing members, that we had valedictory remarks towards the end of the last session where the outgoing members or retiring members and others spoke about their contribution. In particular, I refer to the Hon. Gail Gago and the Hon. John Gazzola, and I will not repeat comments in relation to those two members.

Similarly, the Hon. Peter Malinauskas, albeit in different circumstances, transferring from the Legislative Council to that other place, the House of Assembly, an acknowledgement for his service to this council was also made. The two members, however, who are no longer with us, the Hon. Robert Brokenshire and the Hon. Kelly Vincent, obviously because of the circumstances were unable to make valedictory remarks and valedictory remarks were unable to be made about their contributions.

First, in relation to the Hon. Robert Brokenshire, I acknowledge his service to the parliament, both to the Legislative Council and to another place. Members will be aware that the Hon. Robert Brokenshire was a dairy farmer from the Mount Compass area and he was originally elected as a Liberal Party member in 1993 for the state electorate of Mawson. As he occasionally reminded us, he held ministerial appointments, in particular in relation to the portfolio of police, which he certainly enjoyed. He made clear in his contributions in this chamber the important role he believed police played in South Australia, the services the police provide and the enjoyment he had as a minister for police for that period. He was also responsible for correctional services, emergency services and briefly for gambling and volunteers.

He served as a Liberal member of parliament in the House of Assembly up until March 2006. In March 2008, as members would be aware, he was elected into the Legislative Council under the banner of the Family First Party. He served with distinction in the Legislative Council since 2008. In the very latter period of his time, his party morphed or transformed into the Australian Conservatives and he contested the most recent election as a member of the Australian Conservatives party. He served on very many committees—I will not go through all of those.

First, I acknowledge his friendship: originally, as I said, as a member of the Liberal Party and a colleague of mine in the last Liberal government as a minister but also as a working colleague in the Legislative Council. I acknowledge his commitment to his beliefs, to the Legislative Council and to the community. To summarise, he indicated in an interview how he wanted to be remembered, and I quote him as follows:

I would like to be remembered as a politician with strong conservative convictions who worked hard to protect traditional values, defend the family unit and preserve the Judeo-Christian heritage upon which our nation was founded.

I think all members who listened to the Hon. Mr Brokenshire will agree that he certainly stuck by those particular values and principles in his contributions in this chamber and in the community generally and, on behalf of government members, I thank him for his service to both houses of parliament.

With regard to the Hon. Kelly Vincent, there were contributions made towards the end of the last parliament. Kelly was elected into the Legislative Council on 20 March 2010 under the Dignity for Disability party banner. At that time she was the youngest woman ever elected—I suspect the youngest person ever elected—to an Australian parliament. Whilst I think I can still lay claim to being—and possibly forever—the only Japanese Catholic ever elected to the Legislative Council, up until the election of Kelly Vincent I was the youngest person ever elected into the Legislative Council.

Of course, Kelly was much younger than I was. Up until the mid-1970s, you could be young and foolish and elected to the House of Assembly, but you actually had to be over the age of 30 to be elected to the Legislative Council. It was only in the reforms of 1975 that adults under the age of 30 were allowed to be elected into this august chamber. Until Kelly’s election—and she beats me by some margin—I was the youngest person elected to the Legislative Council.

Kelly’s contribution in her time in this chamber and in the parliament has been acknowledged not only by some members in this chamber but, more particularly, since her defeat or since the final results of the Legislative Council, by many people in the community, in the media and in the community generally. They have acknowledged her fierce advocacy for the views she espoused. As I said, she was originally elected as a Dignity for Disability party member, but eventually that party transformed into the Dignity Party.

She was a fearless advocate for the views she put in this chamber and publicly. She certainly achieved a significant amount in terms of her contribution to debate on many issues in the Legislative Council. As the Governor’s speech outlined, there is a particular bill that is to be reintroduced, as it was not able to be passed in the last parliament when introduced by the former government, that she made a significant contribution to both directly and indirectly. I am sure she will watch from a distance the passage of that legislation, in one form or another, through both houses of parliament.

Kelly served on a significant number of committees, as all members of this chamber do—again, I will not go through all of those. On behalf of government members, I acknowledge her significant contribution not only to debate in the Legislative Council but to debate in the community about issues that were near and dear to her.

I welcome the new members to the Legislative Council; it is indeed a great honour. Each of us, at one stage or another—some more distant than others, some more recent than others—have enjoyed the great thrill of, first, being elected and then sitting in the Legislative Council chamber for the first time. Each of us who have been here before will understand the thrill and the responsibility that you are taking upon yourselves as representatives in this chamber.

Those of us who are continuing members wish you well in terms of your future careers. We wish you well in terms of the contributions that you make, not only to your political party but also to debate in this chamber and to the community generally. As those of us on this side have seen, one never knows how long one sits on one side of the chamber or another. Indeed, in our party we have seen members who were elected, in both houses, in 2002 who never enjoyed the joys of at least being part of the government or a government party. That is for the future. Whatever your contribution is to be, we wish you well.

There are some of you whom I know reasonably well; others I do not. I welcome the Hon. Frank Pangallo. The only word of advice I can give the Hon. Mr Pangallo is that you will not be allowed by the President to put your foot in the door with a camera behind you. That will certainly be beyond the standing orders, and the President will not allow it. I acknowledge your long service in the media, back to the old news days and, I think, almost every television station, except for Channel 9, if I read it correctly. As I have said, many of us have crossed swords, crossed paths or enjoyed an interaction with the Hon. Mr Pangallo over the years.

The Hon. Connie Bonaros: I have worked with her in a different capacity in terms of parliament. I welcome you now on the other side of the fence, if I can put it that way, and I look forward to working collaboratively with you in the future.

I do not know the Hon. Clare Scriven well, but she comes from God’s own country, and, in that case, has much to offer to the parliament, to her party and the community. The South-East of South Australia is well represented on your side of the chamber and on this side of the chamber as well, and I am sure it will not lack for the want of advocates, on both sides of this chamber, in debates in the parliament.

I do not know the Hon. Ms Pnevmatikos or the Hon. Emily Bourke at all. I wish you well in your contributions and your role in the parliament over the coming years. With that, on behalf of government members in acknowledging the contributions of past members, I certainly wish all of the new members well in terms of your contributions to the chamber.

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Leader of the Opposition) (15:47): In seconding the motion, I would like to support many of the points that the Leader of the Government in this chamber made. I wish to thank the contribution made by voluntarily retiring members Gail Gago and John Gazzola. Gail served 16 years in this place. She was an excellent member and a champion for women’s rights, the environment, the dignity of work and many other things across a large range of portfolio areas. She had the distinction, for some time, of being the only minister in this chamber and carrying the workload of every single little bit of legislation that came through. That is a fate I do not wish upon any of you on that side, no matter how much I might dislike you at times.

Also, the Hon. John Gazzola retired, having served the same amount of time in the chamber as the Hon. Gail Gago: 16 years since 2002, rising to serve as President in this chamber for some time. The involuntary retirement of the Hon. Kelly Vincent I note with a great deal of sadness. She was an incredibly strong advocate for progressive issues in this place, particularly for the rights of people with disability. I think it was a very frequent supplementary question she would ask, holding ministers to account for things that she believed in strongly and represented.

I also note the involuntary retirement of the Hon. Robert Brokenshire. I might not have agreed with everything he said, but he genuinely and passionately believed in his causes and went about prosecuting them with a great deal of vigour and a great deal of media savvy. I am sure he will be enjoying his twilight years, spending them in the fine pastures out at Mount Compass, shouting at clouds and trying to vandalise speed cameras, for which he had a particular dislike. I wish all those retiring members the very best in their next phase of life. 

We see the election of a number of new faces—a rejuvenation of this chamber. On this side of the chamber are a lot of people whom I have known for a very long time: the Hon. Emily Bourke, the Hon. Clare Scriven and the Hon. Irene Pnevmatikos. The opposition welcomes you to this side of the chamber. We are hoping that you will only be viewing these paintings for four years, but, as the Hon. Rob Lucas points out, that cannot be promised. 

I also welcome members from SA-Best to this chamber: the Hon. Frank Pangallo and the Hon. Connie Bonaros. I am sure you will serve with distinction in this place and make a great contribution. Let me briefly add that I am also very much looking forward to working with the staff in this chamber: our new Clerk, our new Black Rod and all the staff. 

The Hon. S.G. WADE (Minister for Health and Wellbeing) (15:50): I would like to associate with this motion and honour all of those people mentioned in the motion, but in particular I would like to refer to the service of the Hon. Kelly Vincent. As I had the opportunity to say at the declaration of the Legislative Council poll, in my view Kelly Vincent has changed the conversation in terms of disability and inclusion. Kelly and her team provided very strong advocacy not only for thousands of South Australians but locally, nationally and internationally. 

Kelly appeared not only on national television programs, such as You Can’t Ask That and SBS Insight, but also represented Australia and people with disability at conferences both nationally and internationally. Here, her work was not just in this chamber, but she and her team became extraordinary advocates for people with disability and other forms of diversity. That advocacy was systemic and individual. I do not think Kelly and her team could have appreciated the impact that the NDIS would have had on them, considering that it was a federal scheme, but I know that they got calls from all around Australia in relation to the implementation of that scheme. 

I had the pleasure of working with Kelly on two particular committees linked to people with disability. One was the select committee on access to justice for people with disability, which it was my honour to chair, but there is no doubt that, as we came out of that committee, it was Kelly’s ongoing advocacy and collaboration with the Attorney-General and his department that was the foundation for the success of the Disability Justice Plan. We served together on two other committees: firstly, the select committee on access for education for people with disabilities, and again on the elder abuse committee. Consistently, Kelly Vincent was an advocate for people facing social isolation.

I would like to honour the work that she did in terms of securing funding for mental health and health services in relation to the bank tax bill. My leader has already highlighted her historic achievement as being the youngest woman in an Australian parliament. I will always remember Kelly as someone who lived by her values in this chamber—she did so with integrity and courage. I often found her debate contributions disarmingly intimate, and they were all the more powerful for it. I will remember her as a good friend in the house.

I would hope that we all take something from the contribution that Kelly made; we are a chamber of minorities, particularly of minority parties, but we also have the opportunity to represent the people who will never have the impact of a House of Assembly seat—the small man, the small woman, people with disabilities, people with social disadvantage, whatever their minority status might be. We are a chamber of minority parties, and I trust that we will continue to be the champions for minority people.

The Hon. J.S.L. DAWKINS (15:53): I wish to speak briefly, firstly about the Hon. Robert Brokenshire who, I suppose, I have known for close to 25 years. We were colleagues together in the Liberal Party in the previous government, and obviously I have served in this parliament and this chamber with him in his membership of, firstly, Family First and, more latterly, the Australian Conservatives.

I do remember a number of things about Robert, and his passion has been mentioned. I recall when he was the shadow minister for police and the then Labor government was in the process of selling the Loxton Police Station to allow a developer to turn it into backpacker accommodation. Robert was very passionate at meetings in the Riverland on that particular issue. I was looking after the Riverland at the time, so I got caught up in that effort. He was a supporter of my work in suicide prevention and I was grateful for that support. I wish him well in his agricultural pursuits, but also know that he will have a bit more time barracking for his Mount Compass Football Club as they go for three premierships in a row. 

In relation to the Hon. Kelly Vincent, she was passionate in her support for my work in suicide prevention and particularly in the communities that she represented so well in this place, and I am grateful to her for that. She was also a strong supporter of the number of pieces of legislation that I brought through this chamber in relation to altruistic surrogacy, and I will always be grateful for her support in that regard. 

The Hon. D.G.E. HOOD (15:55): Thank you, Mr President, and I take this opportunity to congratulate you on your ascension. I rise to support the motion. Whilst I certainly would like to take the opportunity to acknowledge the service of the Hon. Ms Vincent and also welcome the new members to the chamber, it will not surprise anyone, I am sure, to know that my remarks will focus on the Hon. Robert Brokenshire and his service to this chamber and indeed the other place over a number of years. 

It is my honour to speak today about my former colleague in the upper house, Robert Brokenshire—formerly honourable, I guess, although I understand because he has done a period of 10 years he will qualify for the title ‘honourable’ for the rest of his days.

I have to admit I was not anticipating returning to the parliament this year without him. I am sure members would agree the chamber will be somewhat different in his absence. It has always been my hope that his departure would be of his own choice when the time should come, but as a seasoned member of parliament who had already experienced a number of elections where the outcome was incredibly difficult to accurately predict, his approach was one of humility with a sober understanding that you could never take your position for granted in this place. Indeed, in my conversations with Robert since he is no longer a member of this chamber, he has been very humble and, I would have to say, quite philosophical in his acceptance of the public’s verdict.

I had the immense privilege of working closely with Robert for 10 years and I can honestly say I regard him not only as an esteemed and highly capable individual but also as a genuine friend. I am pleased our friendship will continue beyond our shared time in politics. Indeed, I have had a great deal of contact with him since the results of the election were obvious.

I do not really believe you can come across many more loyal or trustworthy people than Robert, and I have not in my life. He has always proved to be a man of his word, acting with integrity and with the best of intentions in all of his dealings that I am aware of. In fact, in the time that I have known him—and I think this is something that would be quite unique in parliamentary life—and that is in the 10 years we worked together, I can honestly say that in that entire period not once did we have stern words despite the fact that we were dealing with some very contentious issues on many, many occasions, as members who have been here for a while would know happens all the time.

I think is quite remarkable that over a 10-year period we did not have a single occasion where we exchanged stern words despite the fact that we started from very different positions on a number of issues in particular. 

One attribute of Rob’s I do not think anyone could dispute was his work ethic. He would have to be one of the hardest working and tenacious not only politicians but people that I have ever known. He is also one of the most passionate, as other members have said. Rob lived and breathed politics—not just for power, although power is important because in power one can contribute to the decisions that are made. But it was not for any self-serving reasons. He did it because he genuinely cares about our state and the welfare of South Australians.

Whatever ambition he did have was driven from the belief that he had the ability to effect change for the better. I would argue strongly that he certainly was able to achieve this in his time in this place. Rob has made a significant contribution to South Australia through his work as a legislative councillor and indeed in his work in the other place in standing up for rural and regional South Australia representing his fellow farming community, relentlessly endeavouring to keep the government of the day to account and of course for upholding strong values in all of his legislative pursuits.

He tirelessly championed the ‘right to farm’ legislation. He agitated to ensure our police officers were afforded better workers compensation, to which the government of the day agreed. He introduced legislation for the birth of stillborn babies between 12 and 19 weeks gestation to be recognised. He campaigned for better regional health care. He advocated for victims of domestic violence and also for our emergency services, amongst many, many other things.

He served on a large number of committees, some of which have included the Natural Resources Committee, the Budget and Finance Committee, the Crime and Public Integrity Policy Committee, the Statutory Child Protection and Care in South Australia Committee and the Emergency Services Reform Committee. Of course, these are just a few of the many that he has served on. 

In addition to these efforts, Rob would never turn away any constituent. Those of you who had any dealings with Rob will know that even for me sometimes it was difficult to get an appointment with him because he had constituent appointments back to back over the course of any parliamentary week. People came to him for help with all sorts of things, to see if he could assist them, and he never turned anyone away. He gave value to each person he met and was forever having appointments with people from all cross-sections of the community, appreciating and giving consideration to their unique perspectives and predicaments. 

He would also regularly travel to meet with constituents and people residing in the Riverland, the Barossa, on Yorke Peninsula and Eyre Peninsula and, indeed, right across our state. His primary concern was that the concerns of South Australians were well represented and had a voice in the upper house of our state parliament and, indeed, in the lower house in his time there. No amount of time, energy or personal sacrifice appeared too much for Robert, in my estimation, to ensure that those objectives were achieved. He is well known for his commitment to these regions and for giving them the recognition and support they rightly deserve. 

As you are well aware, Mr President, prior to his time as a legislative councillor in the last decade, Robert had already made an impressive impact in South Australian politics as the member for Mawson for 12 years, both in government and in opposition. Elected to the other place in 1993, the Liberal Party soon recognised Robert’s potential and appointed him as minister—he may have mentioned this—at various points in his career, including as police minister, correctional services, emergency services and the shadow minister for health at one stage. 

He served in various roles with characteristic energy and vigour, developing a solid rapport with interest groups and lobby groups, community organisations, government and non-government agencies, as well as individual constituents. He was certainly highly regarded within his electorate and throughout the wider community, in my estimation, and this is evidenced by the many warm relationships he developed over the years. This was also evidenced by the fact that in developing these relationships he continued to develop other relationships, including with people of the party of which I was a member at that time, when he was not re-elected to the seat of Mawson back in 2006. 

It was actually in that same year that I was first elected to this place myself. After the privilege of working in a team with Andrew Evans for two years in the Legislative Council, it was apparent that Andrew’s retirement was imminent. Andrew, in his wisdom, sought to choose a replacement for himself with careful consideration and appointed someone not only with expertise and capability but who was a person of good character with the right motivation. Robert was an easy choice for Andrew and myself and he not only fulfilled but superseded all of our prerequisites and was the obvious choice for us. I am forever thankful that Andrew agreed that Robert was the right person to take his seat in this place.

Although Robert was not successful in his re-election in March, I have no doubt that he will continue to seek ways of utilising his abundant talent and wealth of experience outside the political realm and perhaps, who knows, one day maybe even within. I will certainly miss working alongside him, but I trust that he will enjoy a new chapter of his life, which will no doubt include spending more time on his Mount Compass dairy farm with his family. I am sure that his wife Mandy and three adult children, Amie, Nick and Elissa, will appreciate more of his company.

I take this opportunity to sincerely commend Robert for his 22 years of service in the South Australian Parliament and for his extensive efforts to promote an economically prosperous state built upon strong families and communities. I also take this opportunity to personally thank him for his valuable support and encouragement to myself over many years. I could not be more grateful. I am sure all members of parliament will join me in sincerely wishing him all the very best and every blessing for the future. He was, indeed, a significant part of my life for 10 years and I am grateful for that.

The Hon. M.C. PARNELL (16:03): I, too, am pleased to support this motion. I am looking forward to working with our three new colleagues, who I do not yet know but will get to know. I also acknowledge the contributions that were made by those who retired voluntarily. One of the problems I guess we have in this place is that those who retire voluntarily go on their own terms. They get to make a speech and people say nice things about them and we do that before the session ends, but those who contest the election and are unsuccessful do not have that opportunity, so it is important that we get the chance to put a few words on the record now.

I am looking at the three members on this side. Of course, our two colleagues from the SA-Best party are most welcome as well, as are those who recontested and were successful. I am delighted to have my colleague, Tammy Franks, back on the crossbench. I have been the only Green in the village for a period and it is a lonely place, so it is great that we have the band back together again.

Turning to the Hon. Robert Brokenshire, the Hon. Dennis Hood said a lot of things about his background. I will not repeat a lot of that, but all of us who were here saw that he had passion. He would stand in the spot where the Hon. Connie Bonaros now sits and make his speeches, and he attracted attention. We paid attention to what he said. He spoke with conviction, he spoke with passion and he brought a great deal of experience. We can no longer play the bingo game that we used to play, which was how long would it take before some of that experience was manifest in his contribution. We all wish him well in his future.

In relation to the Hon. Kelly Vincent, I am not prone to exaggeration, but her contribution was astounding. When you think about it, it was a remarkable contribution. Most of us, at the age of 21, I think she was, were not contemplating legislating for the affairs of state. We were not contemplating the minutiae of bills, motions and regulations, and we also did not have her particular health challenges or have to work from a wheelchair—none of us had that at 21—yet for eight years the Hon. Kelly Vincent conducted herself with great authority, I would say, in this place. She was taken very seriously in the community, in a way that many people of her age just would not be, so I think it is a great loss.

Many of you would have seen the article that Matthew Abraham wrote in the Sunday Mail last week, entitled, ‘The politician we shouldn’t have lost’. I absolutely agree with the headline. I think Kelly is a loss to this place. Most of the rest of what Mr Abraham wrote I disagree with. He has one line in here which is an interesting one. He says, ‘South Australia has been well served by some of its accidental politicians and poorly served by some of its deliberate politicians.’ Of course, you could flip that around the other way as well, but we know the story of the Hon. Kelly Vincent’s entry into this place. She was the classic accidental politician, borne out of the tragic death of her running mate prior to the election.

The rest of Matthew Abraham’s article I will save for another day. He does rail against the lack of ‘serendipity’. I am not sure how serendipity and democracy go well together. We could elect people to this place by pulling names out of a hat, but we do not. That, again, is a debate for another day. I believe, as I know many members do, that Kelly is a real loss to this chamber. I wish her well. It is not often that we see someone departing this place not having yet reached the age of 30. She has a long future ahead of her, a fantastic contribution to make and, who knows, we may see her back here at some stage in the future, but I certainly wish her well.

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS (16:07): I rise briefly to support the motion, to welcome our five new members of this place and to make some very brief remarks on those who have moved on from the red vinyl benches. This is a very intimate parliament; it is a small chamber. I started at the same time as the Hon. Kelly Vincent. We had a mutual friend who put us in touch with each other in those first few weeks because she was contemplating this unexpected elevation to being an elected member of parliament and was not quite sure whether she wanted to go through with it. He put us in touch and I said, ‘Well, what’s the worst that could happen? You could give it a go and if you don’t like it you can move on.’ She gave it a go, and I think she excelled. 

Kelly, before that, of course, was a playwright. She is an artist, she is a writer and she brought those wonderful skills to this place. Certainly, most of her contributions to this council were considered, articulate and utterly compelling. At the time though, the then President, the Hon. Bob Sneath, used to confuse Kelly and myself all the time. He would refer to myself as ‘Kelly’ and Kelly as ‘Tammy’. We pointed it out to him and we took him to task a few times privately over this. At one point, we had both had enough and pointed out that I was the one with the blonde hair old enough to be the mother of the one with the red hair and the wheelchair. After that, he took it a little bit more seriously, and I think neither of us have been confused for each other by a President since.

I would also like to make some reflections on comrade Gazzola who, again, was somebody I think I rubbed up the wrong way when I first came into this place. He found me a little difficult to deal with, but our love for live music brought us together and then we found that we had quite a lot in common in terms of progressive political beliefs, and we have become great friends and allies. I look forward to an ongoing relationship with the Hon. John Gazzola in terms of the advancement of the arts, music and live culture in this state.

My colleague the Hon. Mark Parnell referred to the bingo games that we played. I must remind you all—and mention it for those of you who missed it—of the ‘BingGago’ legend of former minister Gago. When we were ‘whingeing, whining and carping’ in question time, we were sure to be told not once, not twice but possibly about 12 dozen times. She was an admirable woman, a pioneer, a trailblazer, and indeed, when she was the sole minister in this chamber, she obviously had to stay for the duration of an entire question time with an onslaught of both opposition and crossbench questions and then move on to all the legislative load in this place. That was an enormous burden for any one person, and I think she should be remembered for her fine contribution.

I sat directly across from the Hon. Robert Brokenshire when I first started in this place, and you would have to say that he and I were diametrically opposed on many of our beliefs. However, he would make me laugh in the chamber, and I suspect I did for him as well, for all the right reasons, and we had much in common. I pledge I will be reinstating his volunteers charter legislation that lapsed in the lower house. I note that we worked cohesively on those volunteer issues regarding the CFS. The sticker says that you do not mess with the CFS, and you certainly did not mess with Robert Brokenshire either.

There is a diversity of voices in this place and that is to be welcomed. The Hon. Robert Brokenshire and the Hon. Kelly Vincent have been lost to this council. Those diverse voices of just those two members will be a notable loss, and it is certainly a reminder that we need a larger diversity of voices in this place. I hope that we all take on some of that legacy, particularly for the Hon. Kelly Vincent; her star will shine far brighter yet, and I am sure it will not be the last that we hear from her.

The PRESIDENT (16:12): I wish to add my own acknowledgement of the service of the former members and thank them for their service to the council and the people of South Australia. I wish them well in their future endeavours. I congratulate the new members on their election and welcome them to the council. I wish them all the best for their time in the chamber.

Motion carried.

See full session on Hansard