The PRESIDENT: I call the Hon. Andrew McLachlan CSC MLC.
The Hon. A.L. McLACHLAN (17:16): Thank you, Mr President. I would like to congratulate you on your election to the presidency and wish you very well in your endeavours as President. It is not always easy; I know how hard it is. I will be thinking of you throughout your term, and I wish you every success. I know I leave the council in good hands.
I would also like to thank you for encouraging me to take the opportunity to speak. For the benefit of honourable members, I was not planning on regaling you with long stories or speaking this afternoon at all, but your wise counsel convinced me to do otherwise. My original plan was to go like the Mexican revolutionary Zapata, in a hail of preselection bullets, and disappear in the dust. It was not to be: I was successful and, God willing, both houses will send me on my way next week.
I would like to thank the Clerk, the Black Rod and the chamber staff for their tremendous support through the time of my presidency. There is much that goes on behind the workings of this council to support all of us as the honourable members, and I sincerely thank them all. I hope I was not too demanding a president and that you think of me kindly when I am gone. It depends how hard the current President is!
I would also like to thank all the honourable members for their support during my presidency. It is a unique role and one which at times is very lonely. I thank you for your friendship and support, and I will miss you in the coming days when I am commuting to Canberra. The price of the presidency, of course, is that you are rendered silent. Please do not have those looks of horror: I am not going to give a polemic on all my political issues. During the course of my presidency, my mother died and I would like to acknowledge her. I had planned to do it in a matter of interest when I was on the back bench. I loved her dearly.
I have not had much of an opportunity to reflect on my, I think, shortish political career in the Legislative Council, but you would not have failed to read in The Advertiser the constant reference to ‘the maverick’ and crossing the floor on the bikie bill. Whilst I was reading all the commentary on the preselection with great interest, I thought to myself, ‘Perhaps that’s the only legacy I will be remembered for: a maverick in the Liberal Party and someone who crossed the floor,’ which brings me to two special mentions I would like to make.
The Leader of the Government alluded to one. I would like to personally put on the record my thanks to the member for Bragg in the other place for placing considerable faith in me as a young parliamentarian—not young in age but a young parliamentarian—to carry her load in this chamber. It was the making of me, and it was really a considerable risk for her since I was not an experienced parliamentarian at the time. She was extremely tolerant given some of my more outrageous speeches that I gave in this place and even more outrageous comments that I gave to the media.
She also was very understanding when I decided that I could not support the then Labor government’s bill in relation to bikies. To this day, I have not changed my view: parliament should never declare any organisation, no matter how abhorrent, without evidence and act like a court. I hope one day that that bill is modified, although I suspect it will take some time for parliament and the political climate to change its view.
On that bill, I would also like to say a special thanks to the Hon. Mr Parnell. At a time I was under considerable stress—it is not easy to split from your party—he gave me great counsel as a friend but also as a lawyer to affirm my views that this was a bill in extremis and did not need to be drafted that way. I thank you very much, the Hon. Mr Parnell. You were a great support to me at the time. You were also my bench partner. Thank you for your mentoring and support. I am a better parliamentarian for it, and I think it owed much to your training. Between you and the member for Bragg, I think I may well be ready for Canberra. We will see. Time will tell.
If there is a measure of success, I suppose it is whether you leave this place with more friends than you came with, and I feel that I am. I leave with mixed emotions, leaving you all to start another adventure in my life, but you have all taught me many things and I will take those lessons and try to apply them in Canberra. It is a privilege to serve the people of South Australia. Of course, I will continue to do that. I have never taken any day in this chamber for granted. I acknowledge my family for their support. I am going to need a lot more support as I start the commute to Canberra, but I know I have the support of Marcia, who will be coming in tomorrow to watch the joint sitting.
For those members who did not have the opportunity to listen to me railing against Labor policy from the backbench, I always tried to inject the odd poem. I know the Hon. Kyam Maher is so excited by this, but I am not leaving you without a stanza of one of my favourite poems because, at the conclusion of this speech, which is coming shortly, I will give the President my resignation and become a stranger amongst you. I bid you farewell and I will leave you with the last stanza from Robert Frost’s poem, one of my favourites, The Road Not Taken. I encourage you to read it. It is about choices in life.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
I will now give to you, Mr President, as you are the one who must receive it, my resignation.
The PRESIDENT: Black Rod, having received the resignation, I now acknowledge that there is a stranger on the floor of the Legislative Council. Please escort the stranger from the chamber.
The Hon. A.L. McLachlan was escorted from the floor by Black Rod.
Debate adjourned on motion of Hon. I.K. Hunter.
At 17:25 the council adjourned until Thursday 6 February 2020 at 14:15.See full session on Hansard